Maintenance Modification In Colorado

 

“Colorado Maintenance Modifications…”

 

 

Maintenance modification analysis are complicated and detailed. The most important analysis before any step is making sure you have the right law firm representing you. Burnham Law regularly receives the highest ratings from clients and fellow attorneys. See Avvo Reviews that show we are who we say we are.

                                      Todd Burnham, The Burnham Law Firm, PC

 

Call Now To Speak With Colorado Family Lawyers About Modification: (303) 990-5308

 

Contractual vs. Non-Contractual Maintenance

STEP 1:The first question to ask when deciding whether you can seek a maintenance modification is whether you have the legal standing to do so. If you agreed to contractual and non-modifiable maintenance then you are stuck; however, there are other options available under different legal theories if you believe your former spouse failed to accurately disclose all finances in your divorce.

 

Significant and Continuing Change in Circumstance

STEP 2: If your maintenance is modifiable by the Court (because it is non-contractual or your prior divorce went to a final divorce hearing without an Agreement) you may seek a modification upon a showing of changed circumstances so substantial and continuing as to make the terms unfair Minor changes such as temporary annual income decreases or short-term unemployment are generally not enough to qualify as they are not substantialor continuing.

 

I.      The Statute:

C.R.S. §14-10-122(1)(a): [T]he provisions of any decree respecting maintenance may be modified only as to installments accruing subsequent to the motion for modification and only upon a showing of changed circumstances so substantial and continuing as to make the terms unfair…..

C.R.S. §14-10-122(2): Unless otherwise agreed in writing or expressly provided in the decree, the obligation to pay future maintenance is terminated upon the death of either party or the remarriage of the party receiving maintenance.

 

Call Now To Speak With Colorado Family Lawyers About Modification: (303) 990-5308

 

II.      Case Law:

  1. In re Marriage of Weibel, 965 P.2d 126 (Colo. App. 1998). Wife was receiving $800 per month in maintenance. Wife was able to live frugally and contribute to her savings every month. Husband filed a Motion to Modify Maintenance claiming that the original award was unfair because Wife did not need maintenance. Husband did not argue that he was unable to afford the maintenance. A party seeking modification of an existing maintenance order bears a heavy burden. When determining a motion for modification, the trial court should not consider whether, based on the current circumstances, it would have awarded a different amount of maintenance. The correct inquiry is whether the original award has become unfair. The fact that recipient of maintenance has increased his or her income, does not, by itself, make the original award unconscionable.
  1. In re Marriage of Swing, 194 P.3d 498 (Colo. App. No. 07CA1269, Sept. 4, 2008). Husband decreased his working hours and income as he approached retirement. Trial court reduced his maintenance obligation to reflect Husband’s reduced income. A Colorado court should not consider an obligor to be voluntarily underemployed if the decision to reduce income was a good faith decision (meaning not motivated primarily by a desire to reduce maintenance) and was objectively reasonable given the obligor’s age, health and practice in the industry. Court must consider the interests of both parties in determining whether the original order has become unfair.
  1. In re Marriage of Folwell, 910 P.2d 91 (Colo. App. 1995). A trial court may retain jurisdiction over maintenance pursuant to C.R.S. §14-10-114 if, at the time of permanent orders, an important future contingency exists which can be resolved in a reasonable time, and, if the court explicitly states its intent to reserve jurisdiction. If there is not an express reservation of jurisdiction, a motion for modification of maintenance must be governed by C.R.S. §14-10-122(1)(a). Jurisdiction can be reserved to modify maintenance under the standards of 14-10- 114 to address the future contingency of retirement.
  1. In re Marriage of Caufman, 829 P.2d 501 (Colo. App. 1992). Husband appealed order of the District Court extending his maintenance obligation to wife. The Court of Appeals, held that: (1) trial court may specifically reserve maintenance jurisdiction under general maintenance statute (C.R.S. 14-10-114) in cases in which important contingency exists and is based upon ascertainable future event within reasonable and specific period of time; and (2) if trial court decides to reserve jurisdiction over maintenance it should state its extent to do so on record and briefly outline its reasons for doing so and if it fails to do so, further review of maintenance will be governed by unconscionability standard in C.R.S. 14-10-122.
  1. In re Marriage of Ebel, 116 P.3d 1254 (Colo. App. 2005). C.R.S. 14-10-114(3) does not allow for a post-decree award of maintenance if the court had personal jurisdiction over both parties at the time of the decree and there was not an initial award of maintenance or a reservation of jurisdiction over maintenance.

 

For more information about Colorado maintenance modifications, contact The Burnham Law Firm today or request an initial matter evaluation or divorce consultation in Denver Metro.

 

Call Now To Speak With Colorado Family Lawyers About Modification: (303) 990-5308