In Colorado, alimony is called spousal maintenance. It is possible that the outcome of a divorce will involve one spouse making maintenance payments to the other, particularly in situations where there is a financial imbalance between the spouses. The goal of spousal maintenance is designed to offset the imbalance by, for example, having the higher earning spouse make payments to the other spouse.

Who Decides If There Will Be Spousal Maintenance?

Many divorces are resolved through negotiation. The spouses work together, often with the help of an attorney or through a mediator, to reach agreements on all pertinent issues. As part of these negotiations, spouses can decide whether there will be spousal maintenance payments and determine how much they will be. 

If the spouses are not able to reach an agreement, the divorce may go to trial. There, a judge will decide the outcome on all issues, including spousal maintenance.

How Much Will Spousal Maintenance Be?

In recent years, Colorado issued guidelines for calculating spousal maintenance. In marriages over three years where the spouses make no more than $240,000 annually, the guidelines state essentially that maintenance payments will be 40 percent of the higher earning spouse’s income minus 50 percent of the other spouse’s income.

However, these are merely guidelines, and judges are not necessarily required to follow them, nor are spouses negotiating outside of court.

Different Types Of Spousal Maintenance

There are actually different types of spousal maintenance. Perhaps the most common type is temporary, which one spouse pays the other while the divorce is in progress. This is referred to as pendente lite maintenance. Courts are growing much less likely to award permanent spousal maintenance in a divorce. In the end, every case is unique and the outcome will be based on the specific circumstances.