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How Is Spousal Support Calculated?

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Colorado courts calculate spousal support using statutory guidelines. Based on how long the couple has been married, the income of each spouse, and other specific factors, the Court will decide how much the higher-earning spouse may have to pay.

For help understanding how spousal support is calculated during a divorce, contact Shapiro Family Law. Our family law attorneys know how spousal support agreements are drafted, and we can help you understand what to expect during this process. Call 303-695-0200 today to get started.

How Does Colorado Calculate Spousal Support?

Under state law, the Court calculates spousal support using a formula. Under this formula, the amount of spousal support equals:

  • 40 percent of the higher-earning spouse’s monthly adjusted gross income; minus
  • 50 percent of the lower-earning spouse’s monthly adjusted gross income.

For example, if one spouse earns $6,000 a month and the other spouse earns $2,000, the spousal support would be $1,400 a month. The amount cannot exceed 40% of your combined incomes. This formula will change based upon federal tax law changes.

If your combined annual gross income is particularly high, this formula might not apply. Navigating a high-asset divorce can be challenging, so we recommend contacting an attorney as soon as possible.

How Does the Length of a Marriage Impact Spousal Support?

These guidelines apply to marriages that have lasted between three and 20 years. If you have been married for more than 20 years, the Court may award spousal support for a specified amount of time or for an indefinite period of time.

If your marriage has not yet lasted three years, you might still be able to get spousal support even though the guidelines do not apply to short-term marriages. If you ask the Court for spousal support and can prove your financial need, the Judge may order this award.

Can Couples Decide Spousal Support on Their Own?

Yes, they can. Couples can negotiate spousal support as part of their divorce settlement. They can also agree which spouse will make the payments and the amount and duration of those payments. If a couple cannot come up with their own plan, the Judge presiding over their divorce will calculate the spousal support.

Can I Receive Spousal Support Before My Divorce Is Final?

Yes. Couples who have filed for divorce have regular financial responsibilities and might need money immediately to pay their bills. However, an unemployed spouse or one with a low-paying job might not be able to meet their financial obligations. In this situation, a spouse may ask the Court for temporary spousal support.

If you are not sure how to ask for spousal support while your divorce is pending, contact Shapiro Family Law. Our lawyers can answer your questions and determine if you qualify for this type of immediate assistance.

What Factors Does the Court Consider When Determining Spousal Support?

The Court considers several relevant factors before awarding spousal support. Some of these factors include:

  • The financial resources of the spouse asking for support;
  • The financial resources of the spouse paying support;
  • The paying spouse’s ability to meet their own needs while paying spousal support;
  • The couple’s standard of living during the marriage;
  • The duration of the marriage; and
  • The age and health of both spouses.

The Court also considers cases where a spouse asks for support until they can obtain additional training or education that would help them get a job to support themselves.

Is Spousal Support Awarded in Every Divorce?

No. Spousal support is considered only if a spouse requests financial assistance. Even so, it is up to the Judge to determine whether they receive support. The Court might award spousal support if it finds that the lower-earning spouse:

  • Cannot provide for their own needs, even after receiving a portion of the marital property;
  • Is employed but still cannot support themselves; or
  • Takes care of a child whose condition or circumstances prevents the spouse from working outside of the home.

At What Point Do I Stop Receiving Spousal Support?

Some couples agree on a date of termination. Maintenance terminates on the death of either party or remarriage of the recipient. Additionally, you can request a termination of a spousal support order:

  • If you did not agree to contractual maintenance;
  • If you can prove a continuing and substantial change in circumstances; or
  • If you can prove that the recipient is married via common law marriage.

Either spouse may also ask for a modification of spousal support order when changes occur in their circumstances. If the higher-earning spouse loses their job or the recipient finds high-paying work, for example, a Judge might allow a modification.

If your situation has changed or your ex-spouse’s circumstances have shifted, we can help you request a modification or termination.

How I Get Help Understanding Spousal Support?

If you have questions or concerns about spousal support, Shapiro Family Law can help you. We have assisted many couples in Colorado obtain a divorce, file for legal separation, determine child support, and decide on other family law issues. Call us today at 303-695-0200.