BILL SUMMARY for HB13-1058
HOUSE COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY
|Votes: View--> ||Action Taken: |
|Adopt amendment L.002 (Attachment C). The motion p|
Refer House Bill 13-1058, as amended, to the Commi
|Pass Without Objection|
01:40 PM -- House Bill 13-1058
Representative McCann, prime sponsor, presented House Bill 13-1058 concerning guidelines for the determination of spousal maintenance. The bill creates a process for the determination of the award of spousal maintenance in proceedings for dissolution of marriage, legal separation, or declaration of invalidity and establishes guidelines for the amount and term of spousal maintenance in cases involving marriages lasting at least three years and parties with combined incomes, in most cases, of less than $240,000 per year.
The courts retain their discretion in domestic relations cases in determining spousal maintenance, within the process created by the bill and in consideration of the guidelines and other specified information. The bill creates no presumption for maintenance in domestic relations cases and maintains the existing standard of need for the court to order spousal maintenance. The bill applies to proceedings filed on or after January 1, 2014. Key provisions are described below.
Initial findings of fact. The bill requires courts to enter initial findings of fact when a party requests maintenance, including each party's gross income, marital property apportioned to each party, the financial resources of each party, and reasonable financial need as established during the marriage.
Maintenance amount. The guideline amount for maintenance (for parties in marriages lasting at least three years and who are below the income limit) is equal to 40 percent of the higher party's monthly adjusted gross income, less 50 percent of the lower income party's monthly adjusted gross income. Maintenance to the recipient may not exceed 40 percent of parties' combined income.
Term of maintenance. The guideline term of maintenance is set along a continuum based on the duration of the marriage, ranging from 11 months of maintenance (equal to 31 percent of a 3-year marriage) to 13 years of maintenance (equal to 65 percent of a 20-year marriage). For marriages of more than 20 years, the term of maintenance may extend indefinitely.
Modification of maintenance orders. Under the bill, permanent orders for spousal maintenance entered into after January 1, 2014, may be suspended, reduced, or modified based upon the recipient spouse cohabitating with another person as a couple for 6 months or more. The court may order the reinstatement of maintenance, not to exceed the original term, if cohabitation ends.
Security for the payment of maintenance. The court may require the payor spouse to maintain life insurance or other security payable to the recipient spouse in the event of the death of the payor spouse. The court must take into account factors such as the age and insurability of the spouse and cost of life insurance, among others.
Other awards of maintenance. The bill also provides, under certain circumstances, for an award of maintenance in short-term marriages lasting less than three years and for temporary maintenance.
01:46 PM -- Tracy Ashmore, representing herself, testified in opposition to the bill. Ms. Ashmore spoke about her experience in a contested maintenance proceeding several years ago. She expressed her opinion that current law is adequate and allows judges to use their discretion. She responded to questions from the committee.
01:53 PM -- Michael DiManna, representing the Colorado Bar Association (CBA), testified in opposition to the bill. Mr. DiManna spoke about the family law section of the CBA and discussed the history of spousal maintenance in Colorado. He expressed his opposition to a formulaic approach to a determination of maintenance. He stated that the bill will not accomplish its stated goals of increasing the predictability of maintenance awards or being consistent across judicial districts. Mr. DiManna distributed a document illustrating different maintenance scenarios under the bill (Attachment A). He discussed the various scenarios in detail. He responded to questions from the committee.
Committee discussion with Mr. DiManna continued.
The committee took a brief recess.
The committee returned to order. Committee questioning of Mr. DiManna continued.
02:40 PM -- Steve Lass, representing himself, testified in opposition to the bill. Mr. Lass expressed his opposition due to the cohabitation clause in the bill, which he indicated is a dramatic departure from current law. He stated that the bill is also generally bad public policy. He commented that there is more to justice than speed.
02:46 PM -- Jason Savidge, representing himself, testified in opposition to the bill. Mr. Savidge spoke about his experience as a pro se litigant in a divorce proceeding. He expressed his opinion that awarding child support and spousal maintenance to one party is fundamentally unfair when that party is unemployed and unambitious. He discussed the inequities of long-term spousal maintenance awards. He commented that not all courts award maintenance in a fair and equal manner, leading to abuses of the system.
02:55 PM -- Rick Nicoletti, representing himself, testified in opposition to the bill. Mr. Nicoletti spoke about his experience as a family law attorney. He expressed his opinion that the bill attempts to establish a "cookie cutter" formula for situations that are fundamentally different.
03:03 PM -- James Keil, representing himself, testified in opposition to the bill. Mr. Keil stated that the intended goal of the bill is outweighed by the unintended consequences. He expressed his opinion that a needs-based approach is the proper way to go. He indicated that there is no empirical data to support the formula proposed by the bill. He commented that bad legislation causes litigation and raised concerns about the cohabitation clause. Mr. Keil responded to questions from the committee.
Committee discussion with Mr. Keil continued.
03:21 PM -- Jordan Fox, representing himself, testified in support of the bill. Mr. Fox expressed his opinion that there is currently a large amount of injustice and inequity in Colorado family law. He commented that the choices the parties to a divorce make about how to spend income should not be taken into account when awarding maintenance because they are choices, not needs. He stated that judges have expressed to him the need for guidance in this matter. He responded to questions from the committee.
03:38 PM -- Chaer Robert, representing the Women's Lobby of Colorado, testified in support of the bill. Ms. Roberts expressed her opinion that the bill establishes fairness and consistency in divorce.
03:41 PM -- Brett Zachman, representing himself, testified in support of the bill. Mr. Zachman spoke about his work as a financial coach. He discussed his personal story as a pro se litigant in a divorce. He provided information about the average cost of a divorce in Colorado.
03:47 PM -- Gina Weitzenkorn, representing herself, testified in support of the bill. Ms. Weitzenkorn spoke about her professional background. She discussed the child support guidelines in Colorado, which are partially mandated by the federal government. She indicated that the guidelines in the bill are not mandated, but are true guidelines.
03:55 PM -- Helen Shreves, representing herself, testified in support of the bill. Ms. Shreves spoke about her professional background in family law. She discussed the temporary maintenance formula currently used in Colorado, which was the model for the formula in the bill. She talked about her experience as a divorce mediator. She stressed the importance of consistency and fairness. She responded to questions from the committee.
04:07 PM -- Denise Mills, representing herself, testified in support of the bill. Ms. Mills discussed the difficulty of determining maintenance in a divorce. She expressed her opinion that judges need guidance in order to consistently and fairly award maintenance.
04:16 PM -- Cassandra Rogers, representing herself, testified in support of the bill. Ms. Rogers spoke about her experience as a party to a heavily contested divorce and discussed her need to provide nursing care to her youngest child, who is disabled.
Representative McCann read a letter of support from Judge Angela Arkin (Attachment B).
04:26 PM -- Theresa Spahn, representing the Colorado Women's Bar Association, testified in support of the bill. Ms. Spahn spoke about her experience as an Adams County District Court magistrate who dealt with pro se litigants in family law cases. She indicated that her former colleagues on the bench want guidance for the award of maintenance. She responded to questions from the committee.
Representative McCann distributed prepared amendment L.002 (Attachment C) and explained its effect.
Representative McCann wrapped up her presentation of the bill and asked for a favorable recommendation.
|TIME: || 04:46:26 PM|
|MOTION:||Refer House Bill 13-1058, as amended, to the Committee of the Whole. The motion passed on a vote of 7-4.|
Final YES: 7 NO: 4 EXC: 0 ABS: 0 FINAL ACTION: PASS