Colorado’s maintenance statute previously set out factors for the
court to consider, but then left the term and amount up to the discretion
of each individual judge. In an effort to streamline the orders and have
some consistency across the state, new maintenance guidelines were put
into effect in January 2014. The guidelines were “advisory”
rather than presumptive, but our Northern Colorado courts have been following
them pretty closely.
The formula for maintenance is 40% of the higher income earner's income
minus 50% of the lower income earner's income, with a cap of the lower
income earner having a total of 40% of the parties' combined incomes
(C.R.S. 14-10-114.) The duration is then based on the term of the marriage.
The court was still directed to review the original factors to determine
whether maintenance was appropriate, and those were all reasons the court
could deviate from the advisory calculation.
A case just published by the Colorado Court of Appeals reiterated that
neither the guidelines formula, nor the 40% of combined incomes "cap"
in the statute, are binding on courts (In re: the Marriage of Vittetoe, 2016 COA 71). Maintenance still is up to the discretion of the court,
after consideration of all of the factors and review of the advisory amount.
This ruling makes it all the more important that any person arguing for
or against a maintenance award be prepared to address all of the relevant
issues, and show the court the financial impact of any such award.
If you have questions about maintenance,
contact our Longmont family law attorneys for a free initial 30-minute consultation.