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Colorado General Assembly Considers Bill for Presumptive Maintenance at Permanent Orders

Bloch & Chapleau Apr 11th, 2013 Family Law

Spousal maintenance, or alimony, has become a hotly debated family law issue across the country in recent years. Now Colorado is taking its turn as the General Assembly is currently debating a bill setting forth a formulaic calculation for maintenance awarded at permanent orders, which “suggests” both the amount and duration of the maintenance award. If enacted, this statute would have considerable clout in determining maintenance awards. As we have already seen with the presumptive guidelines for temporary maintenance, courts seldom deviate from the presumptive amount. Thus, for those who have found the temporary maintenance formula to be onerous, using the same formula for maintenance at permanent orders may not be a welcome change.

One positive aspect of the proposed Bill for maintenance payers is that it would allow for suspension, retroactive application, or modification of maintenance if the recipient of the maintenance award has co-habituated with another person “as a couple” for a period of 6 months or longer once a maintenance order is in place. Many maintenance payers have long argued for such a provision in separation agreements. Thus the new statute would allow the suspension, retroactive application, or modification of maintenance under such circumstances as a matter of law.

Maintenance is not, to use the political buzzword, an “entitlement.” Recent Colorado laws have affirmed that a maintenance award is rehabilitative in nature. It is therefore meant as an incentive for the receiving spouse to improve his or her financial situation. “Permanent” maintenance actually operates as a disincentive. Colorado lawmakers have noticed and are accordingly reviewing this spousal maintenance statute for potential revisions.

Bloch & Chapleau specializes in all family law matters, including divorce, maintenance, child support, parenting time, and division of property/debt.

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