New Spousal Maintenance Law by Dennis H. Babiniec, P.C.

The Colorado legislature has passed new legislation to address the issue of spousal maintenance.  The new legislation amends C.R.S. 14-10-114 effective as to any new case for the initial establishment of spousal maintenance filed on or after January 1, 2014.  The new statute establishes "advisory guidelines to be considered as a starting point for the determination of fair and equitable maintenance awards".

The statute is designed to make the award of spousal maintenace more uniform by using a formula for the amount and length of maintenance awards.  As an attorney practicing divorce and family law in the Denver metro area for over 30 years, I view this as a substantial development in this area of law in Colorado.  

It will be interesting to see how judges apply the "advisory guidelines" as a starting point to consider the amount and length of spousal maintenance.  Will the starting point end up being the ending point for most cases, similar to the child support guidelines?  Or will the judges adopt the full framework of the statute and fine tune the guidelines based on the individual circumstances of each case?  

The full framework of the statute consists of a threshold, findings and factors, in addition to the advisory guidelines. It requires the court to first, make a threshold finding 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."  If the court makes the threshold finding that the party asking for spousal maintenance is unable to provide for their reasonable needs, the statute then instructs the court to make four additional findings as to the income, resources and needs of the parties and then to consider twelve additional factors in determining the amount and length of time for maintenance.  

The new statute allows the judge to consider even more factors in the award of maintenance than the current statute.  There is a likelihood especially in the beginning stages of the application of the new statute, for very complex rulings by the court in trying to apply the new statute to make maintenance awards more uniform, yet tailor them to the specific circumstances of each case.  

If you have a case where the issue of spousal maintenance is involved, I would like to help.  Just Call 303-451-9110 for a free intial consultaton.

Dennis Babiniec
Attorney at law
10701 Meldoy Dr., Ste 350
Northglenn, CO 80234
303-451-9110    posted: July 23, 2013 - Dennis Babiniec - Divorce Lawyer - Blog

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