Property division is one of the key issues discussed during a divorce case in Colorado. Property refers not only to the family home, but also income earned, bank accounts, savings and retirement funds. If you are getting a divorce, you may wonder how much of your income – if any – a judge will award your ex-wife. You may not realize, however, that your ex could also be eligible to claim money you make after a divorce. It is not always possible to cut your ex-spouse off financially, even after the finalization of a divorce.
Colorado Property Division Laws
Any money earned among spouses becomes marital property in the eyes of the law during a divorce case. In Colorado, the courts require equitable division – property division that is fair but not necessarily equal. Rather than splitting marital property down the middle, the courts in Colorado will assess the situation and rule on division according to what is fair for each spouse. If one spouse gave up a career to care for children, for example, that spouse may receive a larger portion of marital property than the other spouse.
A judge will look at several key factors when determining how to split marital property, including each party’s income, economic circumstances, which spouse gets the family home and child custody. Marital property includes all assets, income and debts the couple acquired during the marriage. Anything brought into the marriage by each spouse will remain separate property and will not become part of property division. Any money earned by one person during the marriage, however, may end up split between both spouses in a divorce. High asset divorces are especially complicated and you should speak with a high net worth divorce attorney to ensure the assets are fairly divided.
Spousal Maintenance in Colorado
A judge may award your ex-wife a portion of your income even after a divorce if she qualifies for spousal maintenance (alimony). Spousal maintenance orders one spouse to pay another a monthly or one-time sum. The goal of spousal maintenance is to keep both spouses’ quality of life the same as it was before the divorce. If you can afford to pay alimony and your ex-wife needs financial support, you may end up paying her monthly in maintenance.
Spousal maintenance levels the playing field between you and your ex-spouse post-divorce. It may not seem fair to have to pay your wife money you earn after the divorce, but if a judge deems it necessary, you will have to comply until the term of spousal support ends. A judge may give your ex-wife a set amount of time to acquire job training or experience that will allow her to support herself, or else make you pay alimony until your ex-wife remarries. Alimony could be permanent if the marriage lasted over 10 years and the judge deems it appropriate.
Calculating Spousal Maintenance
A judge in Colorado will look at certain factors when deciding whether to award alimony. The two most important are each spouse’s income and the length of the marriage. Although a judge will have the ultimate discretion in awarding spousal maintenance, Colorado law suggests an equation to come up with a fair amount: 40% of the parties’ combined adjusted gross income, minus the lower-earning spouse’s monthly adjusted gross income. When the couple’s joint income is $10,000/month or less, the formula will use an 80% multiplier. If it is higher, the judge will use a 75% multiplier.
For example, if you and your ex-wife earned $14,000 together before the split, a judge may multiply this by 40% (0.40) to get $5,600, then subtract the lower income. If your wife earned $4,000 per month, your spousal maintenance amount would be $1,600 per month. The judge would then apply a 75% multiplier against $1,600 for a final amount of $1,200 in maintenance. Depending on you and your ex-wife’s income, the equation may look slightly different in your divorce case. Speak to a Fort Collins divorce attorney to find out whether your ex-wife will be able to claim money after the split.