The family court may award maintenance, formerly known as alimony, to a spouse in a proceeding for dissolution of marriage, legal separation or declaration of invalidity of marriage pursuant to C.R.S. § 14-10-114 only if it is requested.  To make an award of maintenance, either on a temporary basis while the case is pending or at the time of entry of the decree, the court must find “that the spouse seeking maintenance lacks sufficient property, including marital property apportioned to him or her, to provide for his or her reasonable needs and is unable to support himself or herself through appropriate employment or is the custodian of a child whose condition or circumstances make it inappropriate for the spouse to be required to seek employment outside the home.”  Whether the court makes an award of maintenance is a decision solely within the court’s discretion after considering a number of factors primarily concerning the financial circumstances of the parties.  Fault is not something the court may consider in making an award.

Maintenance, although it may be made by a lump sum payment, is typically awarded in the form of a monthly payment from one spouse to the other.  The duration and amount of maintenance to be paid varies from judge to judge and case to case.  In 2013 the Colorado legislature made changes to the statute to include a schedule of the amount of maintenance to be paid and a schedule of how long it is to be paid.  The amendments to the statute only apply to cases filed on or after January 1, 2014, and the guidelines are only “advisory” (not mandatory).  The determination of whether to award maintenance is left to the court’s discretion.  The court, however, is required to “consider all relevant factors” and make findings supporting either its award or denial of maintenance.

If maintenance is awarded by the court, it may be considered taxable income to the receiving spouse and an income tax deduction to the paying spouse.  The specific income tax requirements are discussed in IRS Publication 504.  Maintenance paid by one parent to the other is either added to or subtracted from gross income when computing the amount of child support to be paid. The ability to shift income from one spouse to the other was repealed for awards after 12/31/2018.

Whether maintenance is appropriate or not is frequently litigated.  How much maintenance and when it is paid may be negotiated between the parties.  Martin Law Firm can assist in reaching a just, fair and equitable settlement and is experienced in litigating maintenance claims.

The information provided above is general in nature, is not intended as legal advice for your particular situation and should not be relied upon without first consulting with legal counsel.