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Alimony or spousal support
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"Alimony," also known as "spousal support" or "spousal maintenance," refers to financial payments made by one spouse to the other to prevent the recipient from experiencing severe financial hardship after the divorce. The purpose of alimony is to enable the recipient spouse to maintain a comparable standard of living to what they enjoyed during the marriage. It can be awarded either temporarily during the divorce proceedings or permanently after the divorce is finalized. In Colorado, couples typically need to be married for at least 3 years to receive maintenance. 

 

Spousal Maintenance - C.R.S. § 14-10-114

In Colorado, eligibility for alimony requires a minimum marriage duration of three years, although exceptions may apply. The duration of spousal support payments is influenced by the length of the marriage. Importantly, fault in the divorce does not affect the potential award of alimony in Colorado. When determining the appropriate amount of alimony, the court considers various factors, including:

  • the gross monthly income of each spouse;

  • the division of marital property;

  • the financial resources of each party; 

  • the financial needs established during the marriage;

  • age of the parties;

  • potential income;

  • all other sources of income (e.g., rents, royalties, dividends, bonuses);

  • employment history;

  • potential earning capacity;

  • education;

  • contributions to the marriage;

  • age;

  • physical and emotional condition; 

  • the length of the marriage; and

  • the standard of living maintained during the marital relationship.

What is the Purpose of Alimony

Alimony holds significance in various circumstances, exemplified by the following scenarios:

  1. Supporting a financially dependent spouse: Alimony serves as a support system for a spouse who may have foregone career opportunities to prioritize household duties or child-rearing responsibilities. It assists them in transitioning back into the workforce.

  2. Addressing unequal earning potential: In cases where one spouse possesses significantly higher earning potential than the other, alimony helps rectify the financial disparities that may arise after divorce, ensuring a more balanced situation for both parties.

  3. Maintaining the standard of living: Alimony safeguards the recipient spouse's ability to sustain the lifestyle they had during the marriage, mitigating any drastic changes in their financial well-being.

  4. Paying for education or training: Alimony payments can be allocated towards educational pursuits or vocational training for the recipient spouse, empowering them to enhance their future earning potential.

  5. Providing financial stability: By offering a steady stream of income, alimony fosters financial stability for the recipient spouse, easing the adjustment process to their new financial circumstances.

  6. Aiding in debt repayment: Alimony payments can contribute to the repayment of joint debts accumulated during the marriage, alleviating the financial burden on both individuals.

  7. Supporting elderly or disabled spouses: Alimony assumes a critical role in cases where one spouse is elderly or faces disabilities that hinder their ability to achieve financial independence.

These examples underscore the importance of alimony in promoting fairness and equity during divorce proceedings. By addressing the unique needs and circumstances of each spouse, alimony ensures a just outcome that supports their well-being and future prospects.

How to get out of Spousal Support 

                      How to avoid paying spousal support

While it's important to approach spousal support (alimony) matters ethically and in accordance with the law, there are legal strategies that individuals can consider if they believe they have valid reasons to modify or terminate their alimony obligations. Here is the list of reasons to get out of alimony pursuant to C.R.S. § 14-10-122(2): 

(a) Unless otherwise agreed in writing or expressly provided in the decree, the obligation to pay future maintenance is terminated upon the earlier of:

  1. The death of either party;

  2. The end of the maintenance term, unless a motion for modification is filed prior to the expiration of the term;

  3. The remarriage of or the establishment of a civil union by the party receiving maintenance; or

  4. A court order terminating maintenance.

 

(b) A payor spouse whose income is reduced or terminated due to his or her retirement after reaching full retirement age is entitled to a rebuttable presumption that the retirement is in good faith.

(c) For purposes of this subsection (2), “full retirement age” means the payor’s usual or ordinary retirement age when he or she would be eligible for full United States social security benefits, regardless of whether he or she is ineligible for social security benefits for some reason other than attaining full retirement age. “Full retirement age” shall not mean “early retirement age” if early retirement is available to the payor spouse, nor shall it mean “maximum benefit retirement age” if additional benefits are available as a result of delayed retirement.

 

How to Modify Spousal Support

Pursuant to C.R.S. § 14-10-122(1)(a), Spousal Support can only be modified upon a showing of changed circumstances so substantial and continuing as to make the terms unfair. Furthermore, spousal support can only be modified dating back to the day that you file your Motion to Modify Maintenance. Meaning, if you want alimony modified as of today, you need to file your motion today. Similarly, if you want alimony modified 1 year ago, you need to have filed your motion 1 year ago, etc. If the court eventually does modify spousal support, the modification of payments will be effective as of the date of the filing of the motion, unless it would result in an undue hardship on the recipient spouse. 

Here are some key steps to explore when seeking changes to spousal support. 

  1. Review the Divorce Decree: Begin by carefully examining your divorce decree, which outlines the terms of alimony. Ensure that you understand the specific conditions and duration of the spousal support order.

  2. Change in Circumstances: To have a chance at modifying or ending alimony, there usually needs to be a significant change in circumstances. Common factors might include a substantial change in either party's income resulting in a 10% change, employment status, or health.

  3. Open Communication: Discuss your situation with your ex-spouse. Sometimes, mutually agreeing to modify or terminate alimony can be the most straightforward and amicable solution.

  4. Mediation: If communication with your ex-spouse doesn't yield a resolution, consider mediation. A neutral third party can help facilitate discussions and potentially reach a compromise.

  5. Consult an Attorney: Consult with an experienced family law attorney who specializes in spousal support cases. They can provide legal guidance, assess the validity of your case, and help you navigate the complex legal process.

  6. Collect Evidence: If you believe you have a compelling reason for modifying or terminating alimony, gather evidence to support your claim. This may include financial documents, medical records, or other relevant information.

  7. Petition the Court: If negotiations fail and you have a legitimate case, your attorney can help you file a petition with the court to modify or terminate the alimony order.

  8. Court Hearing: Be prepared for a court hearing where both parties present their cases. The court will evaluate the evidence and decide whether to grant the modification or termination.

  9. Comply with Court Orders: Until the court formally modifies or terminates the spousal support order, it's crucial to continue making payments as required. Failure to do so can result in legal consequences including interest, liquidating assets, and even jail.

  10. Finalize the Modification: If the court grants your request, ensure that the modification is officially documented and adhered to.

It's essential to emphasize that attempting to avoid spousal support should be done through legal channels, with honesty and fairness as guiding principles. The success of any modification or termination request depends on the specific circumstances and the guidance of legal professionals.

 

How Many Years of Alimony

In Colorado typically does not have a fixed duration of "how many years." Instead, it varies from case to case and depends on several factors. Courts consider the length of the marriage, the financial circumstances of both parties, their individual needs, and other relevant factors when determining the duration of alimony payments. Some alimony arrangements are temporary, designed to provide financial assistance for a set period, while others may be long-term or even indefinite, especially in cases of lengthy marriages or significant disparities in income. Therefore, the specific duration of alimony can vary widely and is determined on a case-by-case basis by the court.

When Court-Ordered Spousal Support goes Unpaid

It can lead to serious consequences for both parties involved. The recipient may face financial hardship, struggling to meet their basic needs and maintain their quality of life, while the delinquent party may encounter legal penalties such as fines, wage garnishments, or even potential contempt of court charges, ultimately impacting their credit and legal standing.

What States do not Enforce Alimony

 

All states enforce alimony. A person can be held in contempt of court and face penalties, including jail time, for nonpayment. 

We understand the emotional challenges that often accompany divorce proceedings. To ensure your rights are protected, it is crucial to seek the guidance of a knowledgeable spousal support attorney. At our firm, we have the expertise and experience to guide you through this challenging time.

String Bridge

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Temporary vs. Permanent Alimony: Knowing the Duration of Spousal Support

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Modifying Alimony: When and How Can Spousal Support Orders be Changed

Gain insights into modifying spousal support orders, focusing on justifying circumstances and necessary steps. Emphasize gathering evidence, considering alternative dispute resolution, and seeking legal representation for a successful process.

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