How Long Does Spousal Support Last
In order to terminate spousal maintenance in Colorado, one of the following must occur.
When Does Alimony End?
- In cases of Rehabilitative support the paying spouse only needs to continue making alimony payments until the other spouse is able to receive training and get a job that allows them to support themselves
- If the recipient of the alimony payments remarries at any point, the alimony payments may be ended
- In cases where the recipient has been awarded long-term or permanent spousal support, the paying spouse is able to terminate payments upon the death of the recipient
How Long Do You Have To Pay Spousal Support In Colorado
If a family court judge deems spousal maintenance appropriate in a divorce case, he or she may order temporary maintenance or permanent award to one spouse. Temporary alimony awards are very common. Temporary awards dont last for the rest of the recipients life. A temporary spousal support order may last until the divorce case is finalized, especially if one party requested spousal support during the divorce process. Other times, a family law judge may include a temporary order as part of the divorce decree. Colorado has lengthy and detailed guidelines of how long alimony will last if the couple was married at least 3 years but less than twenty years.
- If you have been married for 3 years, the alimony duration becomes 31% of the duration of the marriage, which means youll pay alimony for 11 months.
- If you have been married for 5 years, the maintenance term becomes 35% of the length of the marriage, which means youll pay alimony for 21 months.
- If you have been married for 10 years, the maintenance term becomes 45% of the length of the marriage, which means youll pay support for 54 months.
- If you have been married for 15 years, the alimony duration is 50% of the length of the marriage, which means youll pay support for 90 months.
- And if you have been married for 20 years, the maintenance term is 50% of the length of the marriage, which means youll pay support for 120 months.
Guidance For State Judges
If maintenance is requested by a party in a divorce proceeding, the Colorado maintenance statute requires the judge to engage in a complex and lengthy analysis aimed at determining whether the party seeking maintenance actually requires it and whether the party from whom maintenance is sought can afford to provide the maintenance in the amount and duration requested.
First, a judge in Colorado must determine:
- Each partys gross income
- How the marital property will be divided
- Each partys financial resources
- The reasonable financial need of the party requesting maintenance
Second, a judge determines whether maintenance is appropriate and what amount and term would be fair and equitable by considering:
- The guideline amount and term
- All relevant factors, including 12 factors enumerated in the statute itself
- If the potential recipient lacks sufficient property to provide for his or her needs and is unable to support him/herself through appropriate employment
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History Of Alimony In Colorado
Historically, judges were allowed a tremendous amount of discretion when considering permanent alimony in a Colorado divorce. Such latitude resulted in unpredictability. The amount and length of maintenance awarded by a judge would seemingly hinge on an arbitrary factor such as the likability of a party. The result was a political push towards a system where maintenance allocations are easier to predict.
The Alimony Reform Act of 2011 in Massachusetts was used as a model. After a number of failed attempts using various formulas and language on how a court should apply the formulas, the Colorado General Assembly finally settled on the advisory guidelines of House Bill 13-1058 in 2014. These guidelines were updated in 2018 with House Bill 18-1385 due to the change in the tax treatment for maintenance.
Does Asset Division Affect Spousal Maintenance
Colorado is an equitable distribution state and that means material possessions and other assets are divided in a fair and equitable manner, but not necessarily with a 50/50 split.
Judges have the discretion to adjust how assets are divided based on several factors, including contributions to the marriage as a homemaker and parent, each spouses economic circumstances, how income and debts were acquired, dissipation of assets .
The court must also decide whether assets are marital assets or should remain separate. For example, gifts and inheritance given to one spouse are separate. But pensions, 401k accounts, and other retirement assets may be considered property of both spouses. However, this generally only applies to value that was accrued during the marriage and not before or after marriage.
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Does Child Support Affect Spousal Maintenance
It can. This is one of the factors judges must take into account when determining the amount and duration of maintenance. Its important to note that spousal maintenance is considered income for the party who receives it, impacting the calculation of child support. Higher income for the party receiving child support results in lower child support.
Read More:The Ultimate Guide to Child Support
Modern Family Lawcolorado Spousal Support
At Modern Family Law our goal is to find the best solution for you and your family. Our family law attorneys take their time to listen to your case and handle it as effectively as possible. We understand that child custody cases can be scary, stressful, and devastating. With that in mind, our attorneys approach each case with empathy and integrity to help guide our clients through these difficult times.
Spousal support is often called either maintenance or alimony. Spousal support is money thats owed from one spouse to the other, above and beyond a property division. It may be temporary, or it may be permanent. Its usually ordered in a fixed amount, for a fixed period of time. For example, a judge could order $1,000 per month for the next 5 years.
Failure to pay support payments can result in stiff penalties. Those penalties may include jail time or loss of your drivers license, depending on the amount owed and reason for a failure to pay. Its better to make arrangements than get a court involved.
Our attorneys are ready to listen to the specifics of your case and to help you understand your best course of action. or schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced family law attorneys.
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What Is Spousal Support
Though commonly known as alimony, spousal support in Colorado is legally known as maintenance. Maintenance is money owed for the spouse him or herself to live on, in contrast to child support, which is intended to contribute to the costs of raising a child. After a marriage is dissolved through divorce, legal separation, or annulment, courts will make a determination whether a spouse needs financial support for themselves apart from the distinct issue of child support payments for the children.
The logic behind maintenance is that in many marriages duties are divided between spouses with one spouse being the primary earner and the other the primary caregiver. Because this division of responsibilities places the primary parent at a disadvantage in advancing their career, monetary support may be justified to offset the differences in future income once a marriage is dissolved.
Need Help With Spousal Maintenance
Even though there are statutory guidelines in Colorado for the payment of spousal maintenance, strict adherence to the guideline amount is not required and Judges have a great deal of discretion in this area when determining the amount and the term of spousal maintenance.
So, it is rarely a simple case of punching numbers into a formula.
The amount of alimony is often a point of dispute between spouses. Factors such as recent redundancy, consideration of earning potential or employability/non-employability, and the age and health status of both spouses may need to be considered.
The judge will treat each case individually and there is plenty of room for discretion.
For a clear picture of your rights and responsibilities with spousal maintenance, start with a free case evaluation.
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Introduction To The Colorado Maintenance Guidelines
The Colorado Maintenance Calculator makes Colorado guideline maintenance calculations with one click of the mouse. However, because the Colorado Maintenance Calculator allows you to select from two different versions of the Colorado maintenance guidelines, you must first understand the different versions before you can effectively use the Colorado Maintenance Calculator.
The Advisory Guideline Calculation
If maintenance is awarded after the court has addressed the foundational issues above, the court will look to the advisory guidelines if two things are true:
- The parties were married for at least three years.
- The parties combined annual adjusted gross income is below $240,000.
The new guidelines enacted by the Legislature are based upon a complex formula for courts to use when calculating the guideline amount of a maintenance award.
The formula for calculating the guideline amount of an award asks judges to calculate 40 percent of the higher earning partys monthly adjusted gross income and subtract from that 50 percent of the lower earning partys monthly adjusted gross income. The difference will be the guideline amount, unless this amount, when added to the recipients gross income, is more than 40 percent of the parties combined monthly adjusted gross income.
Unlike the amount of maintenance, the guideline duration of a maintenance award, or term, is set out in a table in the statute itself. The table includes marriages ranging from three years to 20 years. The table calculates a term by applying a different percentage value to different marriage durations. For example, the guideline term of maintenance for a three-year marriage would be 11 months .
Again, however, the guideline amount and term of spousal maintenance are simply guidelines for the court to look to. The court may order amounts and/or terms above or below the guidelines, within its discretion.
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What Counts As Income For Alimony
Colorado courts consider a number of factors when awarding alimony including how much each spouse makes. Determining your income can be quite complex since courts take into account income from most sources, not just your paycheck. In this article, we explore what counts as income to determine alimony, called spousal maintenance in Colorado.
What Is Spousal Maintenance
In Colorado, some people are entitled to receive spousal maintenance. Maintenance is the term used by Colorado courts to describe what is called alimony or spousal support elsewhere. This is the financial support provided by one spouse for the other. This is frequently a contentious aspect of a divorce because of the emotional component of paying maintenance. Regardless of right or wrong, divorcing spouses often hate paying maintenance from a philosophical and emotional point of view.
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Modifying A Support Order
Courts have the discretion to modify spousal maintenance when a material change takes place with either spouse. A job loss, protracted illness, or other financial setbacks may be viable reasons to adjust payments.
Maintenance payments also end with the recipient remarries or either person passes away.
Either spouse can ask the court to modify or terminate spousal maintenance, but a judge will only change or end the award if the requesting spouse demonstrates a substantial change in circumstances since the previous order.
Who Is Eligible For Spousal Maintenance
Eligibility for spousal maintenance is determined based on the earnings of the respective spouses, as well as their future prospects and the length of the marriage. Generally speaking, a spouse who earns less than the other may be eligible for a maintenance award when the marriage is longer than 36 months. Spousal maintenance is viewed mostly as a way to provide support until a spouse gains the training, education, or experience they need to have sufficient earning power. For this reason, most awards only last for a specific period of time or until a paying spouse shows that a termination is appropriate.
Generally, the longer the marriage, the more likely the court is to award alimony in your case. However, it is important to remember that there are always exceptions, every case is different, and there are a number of factors to consider this is not necessarily a given. Your case may involve unique circumstances.
A court can award maintenance if it finds the following are true:
- The spouse requesting payments does not have sufficient income or property to cover their reasonable needs
- The spouse does not have the ability to quickly obtain employment that will help them become self-supporting. This includes caring for a child which makes it unsuitable for the spouse to seek additional employment
What if my spouse requests the Judge to order alimony while the divorce case is still pending?
How much am I going to have to pay and for how long after I am divorced?
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Equal Partners Under Colorado Law
It is important to understand several factors of Colorado divorce that heavily influence spousal maintenance. First, Colorado is a no-fault divorce state. What this means is that there does not have to be blame awarded or a justified reason for the dissolution of marriage. One, or both parties, can simply request a divorce. Maintenance is awarded after Colorado has awarded property distribution from the marital estate. This means that regardless of how long a couple is married, assets that were obtained during the relationship should be divided fairly. While this does not necessarily mean evenly or equally, it does mean that division should not favor one party over the other.
After the property division, awarding and calculating spousal maintenance awards will include many different factors that include, but are not limited to:
- Financial resources available to each spouse
- The lifestyle of the marriage and ability to retain that in divorce
- Distribution of the marital property in the divorce proceeding
- Both parties income, employment, and ability to seek employment
- Custody of children
Is It Just A Calculator
Determining spousal support or alimony in a Colorado divorce is not simply about plugging numbers into a spreadsheet and applying a formula. There is a significant amount of Colorado case law that opens up strategic arguments for each case involving maintenance.
We have represented less affluent clients seeking support to help them meet their needs. We have also advised clients who are concerned with limiting their financial exposure on a monthly alimony obligation that can add up over time.
As a team, we leverage cutting-edge software to analyze the financial issues involved in a case where maintenance is involved. For example, they can calculate the tax effects of maintenance/alimony, budgets depending on inflation or investment returns and provide detailed reports with various scenarios so their clients can intelligently decide if they should settle or go to trial.
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Can I Modify Colorado Spousal Maintenance
Colorado courts can modify spousal maintenance orders when one of the parties can demonstrate changed circumstances so substantial and continuing that the terms of the original order are unfair. If a judge finds that circumstances have changed substantially enough, the modification will be effective as of the date the motion was filed, unless that date would cause undue hardship or substantial injustice. .)
To request a modification of or termination of maintenance, you must file with the court a Motion to Modify or Terminate Maintenance .
The Harris Law Firm Difference
The Colorado alimony attorneys atThe Harris Law Firm have over 250 years of combined experience, are skilled negotiators, and have a sound understanding of how maintenance is calculated in Colorado. Our grasp of family law and spousal support makes us an invaluable resource to any spouse filing for divorce..
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How Alimony Is Determined In Colorado
Alimony in Colorado is determined by a family law judge. Thomas A. Ramunda Jr. is a family lawyer based in Parker, Colorado who can help those undergoing divorce navigate through alimony law. Read on to learn more about alimony, Colorado alimony law, how alimony is determined in Colorado, and how South Denver Law can help you.
How Is Alimony Calculated In Colorado
Despite a lengthy maintenance statutory guideline that governs the criteria for qualifying for alimony, and the factors courts must consider when determining both the amount and duration of alimony, the two most crucial factors are the duration of the marriage and the spouses monthly incomes.
While recognizing the importance of these issues, the Colorado legislature passed maintenance guidelines that apply to alimony cases whereby the decree of dissolution of marriage occurred after January 1, 2014. However, its essential to note that these guidelines arent binding, or even presumptive, as child support is, but they create an alimony formula, which is only advisory:
The maintenance guidelines dont create a presumptive amount or term of alimony. Colorado family courts have the discretion to determine a maintenance award thats fair and equitable for both spouses based upon the entirety of the circumstances. The family law judge must make specific written or oral findings to support the alimony amount and term of maintenance granted to the alimony recipient. The judge must also make an order denying maintenance.
Another provision is that the maintenance formula only applies to alimony cases where the spouses combined incomes are $240,000/yr or below .
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Factors That Determine Spousal Maintenance Amounts
Spousal maintenance is gender neutral and will be awarded to either husbands or wives as appropriate. The court is only concerned that support is fair and equitable to both parties.
Most Colorado courts only consider spousal maintenance in marriages lasting more than three years. For marriages less than three years, the court can take into account how a property division is proposed and may award maintenance if that part of the divorce isnt equitable.
Courts also consider several other factors as well, including:
After the court determines that support is appropriate, the judge then determines the amount and duration.
Colorado law is different from other states in that judges are offered an advisory guideline formula to determine the support amount.
Courts use what is known as presumptive alimony when the parties combined income is $75,000 or less. In those cases, there is a presumption in favor of an award of temporary alimony to be calculated by taking 40% of the higher income partys income minus 50% of the lower-income partys income. If the remainder is zero or less than zero, then the presumption is that no alimony is appropriate. If the remainder is positive, then the positive amount is what the presumptive alimony would be.
In other instances, this formula is used as a starting point for most maintenance negotiations when spouses have combined gross incomes of up to $240,000 or less , and the marriage has lasted at least three years.