Denver Colorado, Family Law Attorney Jeff Alter

Colorado Spousal Support Attorney | Metro Denver

Temporary Spousal Support

Sometimes it is necessary to ask for spousal support while the case is pending. A court can order financial support from one spouse to the other during this time. However, temporary maintenance must be requested through a motion or at the initial status conference depending on your particular court. In either situation, spousal support must always be requested in the initial petition.

Permanent Spousal Support

"Permanent" here does not mean forever. This is support that is ordered at the final hearing of the case (or through an agreement filed with the court). The court enters this order as part of its final or permanent orders. This type of support will continue after the case is closed for the time specified in the court order. This type of support must be asked for in the initial petition.

Location Location Location

I practice Colorado Spousal Support law in the entire Denver Metro area including:

Denver • Adams County • Arapahoe County • Boulder County • Broomfield County • Douglas County • Elbert County • Jefferson County

Also, I sometimes practice in Colorado Springs.

The court is required to make certain findings and address certain factors when considering an award of spousal support ("maintenance").

The reality though is that sometimes not all findings or factors are actually addressed. Still it is important to know what they are.

Step One - Initial Findings

To begin with the court must make findings concerning:

  • The parties' gross incomes;
  • The marital property given to each party;
    • This means that marital property must be divided before maintenance is calculated - It's been my experience that some courts will divide the property in a way so that maintenance is not needed.
  • The financial resources of each party (including separate or marital property); and
  • Reasonable financial need as established during the marriage.

Courts are usually pretty good about addressing all the above here.

Step Two - Term and Amount

The Guideline Term
The maintenance statute provides the maintenance term for a marriage between 3 and 20 years. It is roughly half the marriage. If the marriage is longer than 20 years, the court could order maintenance indefinitely.The Guideline AmountIn general, the calculation is 40% of the higher earner's monthly income minus 50% of the lower earner's monthly income. The result is the monthly maintenance amount. The caveat here is that the recipient cannot get more than 40% of the parties' combined income.
The guideline amount is just that - a guideline, and the court can and should look at other factors including:

  • The financial resources of the parties;
  • The parties' lifestyle during the marriage;
  • The distribution of marital property;
  • Employment and employability;
  • Past income;
  • Duration of the marriage;
  • Term and amount of any temporary maintenance;
  • Age and health of the parties; and
  • Contributions to the marriage.


Step 3 - The Threshold Test

This threshold test must be passed before the person seeking maintenance is eligible to receive it - Why this is "Step 3" instead of Step 1 is beyond me. The prior statute made this Step 1 so that if this test was not met, nothing else needed to be considered. So, a court could go through Step 1 and Step 2 making all the findings only to not award maintenance based on Step 3.  Anyway, here it is:

Threshold Test: The person seeking maintenance must

  1. lack sufficient property to provide for her or his reasonable needs (this is based on the standard of the marriage); and
  2. be unable to support himself or herself through appropriate employment.

Some Spousal Support Considerations

Modifiable Maintenance

A maintenance order is always modifiable unless there is a specific agreement that maintenance is contractual and non-modifiable. The party wanting to modify must show that there is change of circumstance so substantial and continuing as to make the existing order unfair.

Contractual Maintenance

If the parties agree, maintenance can be non-modifiable in term and amount, and specific language must be used to ensure the non-modifiability. There is a risk and benefit to both sides here - Discussions with your attorney are vital here.


If a party does not properly ask for maintenance at the permanent orders hearing (I think it should basked for in the petition), then maintenance is waived forever, and the party can never come back later and ask for it no matter what happens. Because of this, I sometimes ask for maintenance of one dollar a month (depending on who I'm representing) just to preserve the right to modify it later if needed.


In general, the party paying maintenance can deduct it from his or her income and the party receiving maintenance must claim it as taxable income. Parties can agree otherwise however. and specific language referencing the appropriate IRS code should be used. Additionally, the payments must be made pursuant to a court order,  end upon the death of the payee and not be fixed as child support.

Colorado Divorce Law Attorney Practice Locations - For Search Engines

  • Maintenance Attorney | Denver, Colorado.
  • Aurora, Colorado Maintenance Attorney.
  • Maintenance Attorney | Centennial, Colorado.
  • Greenwood Village, Colorado Maintenance Attorney.
  • Maintenance Attorney | Highlands Ranch, Colorado.
  • Parker, Colorado Maintenance Attorney.
  • Maintenance Attorney | Arapahoe County, Colorado.
  • Douglas County, Colorado Maintenance Attorney.
  • Maintenance Attorney | Jefferson County, Colorado.
  • Adams County, Colorado Maintenance Attorney