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In re Marriage of Stradtmann.

2021 COA 145. No. 20CA1536.  Retroactive Spousal Maintenance—Retroactive Child Support—Required Factual Findings.

December 2, 2021


Father moved out of the martial home in February 2019 and filed a dissolution petition the next month. The parties entered into a stipulated temporary order specifying father’s financial obligations to mother from July 2019 through the date of permanent orders. A decree dissolving the marriage was entered in 2020 that ordered father to pay monthly child support and monthly maintenance for two years. He was also found to owe retroactive child support and maintenance for the months of February through June 2019.

On appeal, father argued that the district court erred by awarding child support and maintenance retroactively to February 2019 because the court did not obtain personal jurisdiction over him and mother until March 28, 2019. Mother conceded this argument. CRS § 14-10-115(2)(a) allows the court to order child support “for a time period that occurred after the date of the parties’ physical separation or the filing of the petition or service upon respondent, whichever date is latest.” Here, the latest date was March 28, 2019, when mother waived service of process. Accordingly, the district court erred in awarding child support before that date.

Father similarly argued that the district court erred in awarding retroactive maintenance beginning in February 2019. However, the legislature intended to impose different starting dates for child support and maintenance awards, and the current version of the maintenance statute authorizes district courts to enter retroactive temporary maintenance awards for a term commencing before filing of the dissolution petition. Here, once the court acquired personal jurisdiction over the parties, it had authority to award mother retroactive temporary maintenance beginning in February 2019. Therefore, the district court did not err.

Father also contended that the district court made insufficient factual findings and conclusions of law to support its permanent maintenance award. Here, the district court was required but failed to make factual findings on the federal tax implications of the maintenance award and the advisory guideline amount and term of maintenance. Further, there was no indication that the court considered the stipulated temporary order on maintenance and child support.

The portion of the judgment awarding permanent maintenance was reversed. The portion of the judgment awarding retroactive child support was vacated and the case was remanded for further proceedings. The judgment was affirmed in all other respects.

Official Colorado Court of Appeals proceedings can be found at the Colorado Court of Appeals website.

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