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New alimony guidelines in January for Colorado divorcing couples

Sweeping alimony changes are taking place in Denver, Colorado, and around the country. Many states are still in the debate stage, but in May of this year, Colorado's governor signed a new spousal maintenance bill that will take effect on Jan. 1, 2014. The hope is that alimony will be fairer than it is now and that it will standardize spousal support - similar to the way child support is set up.

The new formula used to determine spousal support will take into account a number of factors, including how long a couple was married, each spouse's income, how many children the couple has and marital assets. The basic formula is calculated by "taking 40 percent of the higher income earner's monthly income and subtracting 50 percent of the lower earner's monthly income."

Because this new formula can mean a significant increase in alimony payments for some in high asset divorces, one family law attorney has advised those couples to file for divorce this year instead of in 2014. However, most family law attorneys are somewhat nervous as to how the new alimony laws will actually work out. There have been rumors that some judges are not going to use the new guidelines. That's actually within their right, as the amount of alimony will still be in the judge's hands. The formula is only a guideline.

The bill was introduced by Representative Beth McCann last year. She withdrew it after opposition from the Family Law Section of the Colorado Bar Association. The bill was reviewed and then reintroduced. It passed in April.

Rep. McCann had help from a couple of judges, one of which said that "many judges have traditionally struggled with what is fair for divorcing families in the maintenance area." The judge went on to say that determining alimony was difficult for many judges because they haven't had a lot of experience in family law before they became a judge.

Alimony is just one area of divorce that can be contentious. The new alimony laws may help some spouses, but could create a hardship for others. An experienced Colorado family law attorney can provide advice as to the best way to proceed.

Source: denverpost.com, "New law changes alimony landscape for divorcing Colorado couples" Colleen O'Connor, Oct. 28, 2013

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