Divorcing couples will face dramatic changes — and significant uncertainty — related to alimony after a new state law goes into effect on Jan. 1.
“It’s groundbreaking legislation,” said Heidi Culbertson, director of client development at the Harris Law Firm, which specializes in family law. “For the first time, Colorado will have a formula for maintenance.”
It’s part of a national alimony reform movement, with many state legislatures seeking to either limit or standardize spousal maintenance payments. In particular, the focus has been on the lack of consistency in maintenance orders, which resulted in perceptions of unfairness and the inability to predict outcomes.
“I had a friend who was married to a very wealthy man in Aspen, and she had a very similar case to someone in Denver,” Culbertson said, “but the maintenance awards were night and day.”
A growing number of states — including Maine, Texas, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma and New Jersey — have switched to the use of maintenance formulas, similar to those used to determine child support, to calculate payments.
Now, after more than two years of work, including a comprehensive task force and judicial training, Colorado will join these states with a formula of its own.