(Photo: Creative Commons)
For years, where a couple filed for divorce could have had a big impact on how much the court required one partner to pay the other, according to advocates for a new law that takes affect this month.

So-called maintenance payments -- what used to be called alimony -- varied significantly by jurisdiction within Colorado, and even between courtrooms in the same place, advocates say. 

The new law aims to change that: Starting this month, the law sets guidelines for judges to follow when determining payment amounts and duration, aiming to make them fairer and more consistent statewide.

The guidelines apply to couples who make less than an annual combined income of $360,000 and have been married for three to 20 years.

Courts can follow an equation to determine a payment amount: Take 40 percent of the higher income earner's monthly income and subtract 50 percent of the lower earner's monthly income.

The law also considers other factors like marital property, children and monthly expenses in determining payment amounts.

The period of support is based on the length of the marriage but these guidelines aren't mandatory and judges will still have a lot of discretion.

The bill was passed in April and signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper in May.