Under Colorado law, the primary purposes of spousal maintenance is to “assist a spouse needing support when the other spouse has the ability to pay support.” See In re Marriage of Morton, 369 P.3d 800, 804 (Colo. App. 2016). The amount of spousal maintenance depends on the income and needs of both the payor and the recipient. Factors for determining whether maintenance is paid, and how much, include income, employability, historical income, and expenses for both parties. Expenses are determined based on expenses parties’ marital standard of living. For example, if you have always taken a European vacation, you can include that expense in your post-marriage expenses, If you have never taken one though, you cannot include it in your expenses for creating a basis for maintenance.

How long a party might pay maintenance depends primarily on the length of the marriage. Maintenance is not typically awarded in a dissolution where parties were married less than three years. It is possible though if “given the circumstances of the parties, the distribution of marital property is insufficient to achieve an equitable result.” C.R.S. § 14-10-114(3)(h). For parties who were married more than 20 years, maintenance may be awarded for an indefinite term, or for a term of years. If maintenance is paid after a 20-year marriage, it is common for it to be paid for ten years or more. Whether maintenance is paid at all ultimately depends on income and expenses for both parties.

It is helpful for parties to know how maintenance would be calculated if the issue was given to a judge because it provides some guidance for settlement. Parties can reach agreements though without giving the issue to a judge and in doing so, they can maintain control over the financial future for their family. We can be creative in structuring spousal maintenance plans to ensure both parties can feel financially secure moving forward after the divorce.