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(Otherwise knows as Alimony or Spousal Support)
In Colorado, neither spouse has an automatic right to maintenance. The court may award maintenance only if it finds that the spouse seeking maintenance lacks sufficient property to meet their reasonable needs and, in addition, is either unable to support themselves through appropriate employment or should not be required to seek employment because of child care responsibilities.
In Colorado, if maintenance is awarded, the amount and duration will be based on:
- The length of the marriage,
- The age and health (mental and physical) of both parties,
- The standard of living enjoyed by the couple during the marriage,
- The respective earning capacity of each party, and
- How the marital property was allocated.
One of the threshold issues in determining whether maintenance is appropriate is whether the spouse seeking maintenance can obtain and maintain employment to support themselves and their children. Therefore, if you are claiming maintenance, it is extremely important to determine your actual employability in this employment market. Even if you are highly educated and previously had a great job, you might find it nearly impossible to obtain and maintain appropriate employment if you left the labor market six years ago to stay home and raise your children. In this case, maintenance might be very appropriate.
Once it is determined that you are entitled to maintenance, the next issue is the amount and duration. The amount will be determined by your ability to obtain and maintain some type of employment and meet your reasonable needs. The duration, however, can be based on a number of factors. If you have young children, maintenance might continue until all of the children are in school full time. Or, if you need additional education or training to obtain employment, maintenance might be awarded for the time necessary to get additional education and training. If you have health problems that prevent you from working and you were involved in a long term marriage, you might be entitled to maintenance for life.
In addition, once maintenance is awarded by the court, it can be modified. Therefore, if either party has undergone a change in circumstances, one of them can request the court to modify the maintenance award.
Each maintenance case is different. Therefore, it is extremely important to look at all factors that the court will consider in determining whether maintenance might be awarded in a particular case. There is no easy or predictable formula when it comes to maintenance.
Glen B. Goldman
Emily T. Roberts
Douglas A. Thomas