There are some significant changes coming to Colorado’s Family Laws in 2014. The biggest news will be the implementation of CRS Section 14-10-114, entitled, “Spousal Maintenance-guidelines”
The statute will allow a judge to make a determination, whether a party in a dissolution of marriage, legal separation or declaration of invalidity of marriage proceeding, has to pay Spousal Maintenance, based upon a formula. Any such determination by the judge, “shall be in an amount and for a term that is fair and equitable to both parties and shall be made without regard to marital misconduct.”
Before an award of Spousal Maintenance can be made, the judge shall be required to enter initial written or oral findings concerning the amount of each party’s gross incomes, the marital property to be apportioned to each party, the financial resources of each party (including but not limited to actual or potential income from separate or marital property and the reasonable financial need as determined during the parties’ marriage.
This new law will be tested in many divorce and legal separations that are filed after January 1, 2014. A judge must be fair in determining the amount and duration of any Spousal Maintenance award. If the judge determines that Spousal Maintenance is to be awarded, the judge must find that the marriage is, “one of duration of at least 3 years and the parties’ combined, annual adjusted gross income does not exceed the greater of $240,000.00 or the uppermost limits of the schedule of basic child support obligations . . .”
Here’s an example of how the new law may work: Husband works as a plumber fulltime and earns $82,000 a year, and Wife works as a teacher earning $38,000 a year. The parties decided to equally divide their bank accounts, IRA’s and furnishings and do not have any other sources of income. Both parties have worked in their current jobs for all 10 years of their marriage. Wife filed for Divorce and is seeking Spousal Maintenance from Husband. They appeared in Court and the judge has the authority to award Spousal Maintenance, using the new law guideline term of maintenance.
Step One: Husband’s Gross Monthly Income calculated as follows: 82,000 divided by 12, equals: $6,833.33
Wife’s Gross Monthly Income calculated as follows: 38,000 divided by 12, equals: $3,166.66
Step Two: 40% of Husband’s Monthly Gross Income, equals: $2,733.33
Step Three: 50% of Wife’s Monthly Gross Income, equals: $1,583.33
Step Four: Subtract higher amount of $2733.33 from lower amount of $1583.33
Step Five: Calculated Presumed Spousal Maintenace from higher wage earner to lower wager earner is: $1,150.00
Step Six: With a 10 year marriage, the guideline term of maintenance would be for 21 months;
Because of the implications of this new law on the hundreds of divorce and legal separation cases filed in Colorado every year, it is important to obtain solid legal and effective legal representation from a qualified Family Law Attorney who can advocate on your behalf, no matter which side of the Spousal Maintenance question you may be on.