Alimony in Colorado (Spousal Maintenance)
Temporary & Permanent Alimony / Spousal Maintenance Information
Neither spouse has an automatic right to alimony, also known as spousal maintenance in Colorado. The court will award maintenance only if the spouse seeking maintenance cannot meet their reasonable needs and, in addition, is either unable to support themselves through employment or should not be required to seek employment because of childcare responsibilities. It is important to note that spousal maintenance can be awarded to either party, regardless of sex. If a man has been the stay-at-home dad, for instance, and does not have an income of his own, he may be granted spousal maintenance from his spouse if she is financially able to support him. All in all, spousal maintenance will be awarded to the spouse with less or no income.
If spousal maintenance is awarded, the amount and duration will be based on:
- The length of the marriage,
- The age and health of both parties,
- The standard of living enjoyed by the couple during the marriage,
- The respective earning capacity of each party, and
- How the marital property was allocated.
One of the main issues in determining whether spousal maintenance is appropriate is whether the spouse seeking maintenance can obtain and maintain employment to support themselves and their children. Therefore, if you are seeking maintenance, it is important to determine your employability in the current market. Even if you are highly educated and previously had a great job, you might find it difficult to obtain and maintain employment if you left the labor market six years ago to stay home and raise your children. In this case, maintenance would be very appropriate. The expert spousal maintenance attorneys at Divorce Matters will be able to guide you through this process and help determine your employability, as well as if you are likely to be granted spousal maintenance.
Once it is determined that you will get spousal maintenance, the next issue is the amount and the duration. The amount will be determined by your ability to obtain and maintain some type of employment and meet your reasonable needs, just like the granting of spousal maintenance was determined. The duration, however, can be based on a number of factors. If you have young children, maintenance might continue until all of the children are in school full time. Or, if you need additional education or training to obtain employment, maintenance might be awarded for the time necessary to get additional education and training. If you have health problems that prevent you from working and you were involved in a long-term marriage, you might be entitled to maintenance for life.
The bottom line is that spousal maintenance is intended to balance out the difference in income between the dependent spouse and the supported spouse until the dependent spouse is on their feet and able to be independent.
Why Divorce Matters?
To determine the duration and amount of spousal maintenance that you might be entitled to, it is incredibly important to have the expertise of a lawyer. The attorneys at Divorce Matters have all of the expertise to help you determine how much you might be entitled to and how to argue for what you deserve in court. Without an attorney, the court process can be overwhelming.
An attorney’s assistance is also important because once spousal maintenance has been officially awarded by the court, it can be modified. This means that if either party has had a change in circumstances, one of them can request the court to modify the maintenance that had been awarded.
Divorce Matters has a Colorado Spousal Maintenance and Child Support Calculator App, which can be used to calculate expected child support or maintenance. You can input your information into the calculator, which will then use a formula similar to what the Colorado court system uses. To download the app, search Divorce Matters Spousal Maintenance and Child Support in the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store.
Supporting vs. Dependent Spouse
Spousal maintenance is paid by the “supporting spouse” to the “dependent spouse.” The spouse who earns less money is called the “dependent spouse.”
The amount of time it is likely to take a dependent spouse to become self-supporting is factored into the decision regarding how much maintenance is paid and for what period of time it is paid.
Negotiation and Mediation
Maintenance is something that is usually worked out through negotiation between the parties or by mediation. This usually means that a great deal of discretion is allowed. For example, in the case of a long-term marriage, where one spouse has been the primary breadwinner, spousal maintenance could continue for many years, if not life. On the other hand, if the couple has only been married a short time, maintenance might not be agreed upon at all during mediation or payments may continue for a very short time.
If spousal maintenance is something that will be negotiated, as it would be in the case of a stay-at-home parent, the parties will usually agree to a temporary maintenance amount that will be paid by the supporting spouse while the divorce proceedings are taking place. This is so that the parent staying home with the children will have enough money to support both themselves and the children.
Call Divorce Matters® today at (720) 542-6142 to schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys.
If the court has ordered you to pay spousal maintenance and you have not been paying, then your ex-spouse can file paperwork that will allow the court to garnish your wages. Once this paperwork is approved, money would be taken directly out of your paycheck to pay the required spousal maintenance. However, there is a limit as to how much money can be taken directly from your paycheck. To find out this exact amount, you should consult an attorney.
While a divorce case is pending, the court can impose temporary orders regarding spousal maintenance and child support. This means that spousal maintenance can be ordered to be paid before the divorce is final.
Under Colorado law, the spousal maintenance you pay reduces your overall income and increases your ex’s overall income. This means that, for child support calculations, you will have lower income and therefore, lower child support payments.