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Colorado Legal Group Divorce Attorneys

Alimony or Spousal Support

What You MUST Know About Alimony

Go to any law firm’s website, and you will see a laundry list of factors listed as the criteria for how a judge will decide alimony, things like lifestyle, educational background etc. What is often ignored are two essential questions: (1) what is the need of the person requesting alimony, and (2) what is the ability to pay of the person being asked to pay spousal support.

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A Quick Look at Alimony

Alimony, is commonly referred to as maintenance by lawyers and judges. It is an amount of money awarded by the court from one spouse to the other as continuing support after the marriage has ended. Many Colorado lawyers will give you long-winded explanations about whether maintenance is appropriate in your case. A quick way to assess this is to look at some of the most important factors judges weigh in determining spousal support, such as length of marriage, incomes, ability to pay, and need.

Colorado Legal Group recognizes the importance of comprehending the complexities of alimony and our attorneys strive to provide their clients with clear guidance and support throughout the process.

Factors Considered in Determining Alimony

When determining whether alimony is appropriate in a particular case, judges in Colorado consider several key factors:

  1. Length of Marriage: The duration of the marriage often plays a significant role in determining the need for and duration of alimony payments.
  2. Income Disparities: Differences in income between spouses are carefully evaluated to determine the financial need for support.
  3. Financial Resources: The financial resources of both spouses, including dividing assets in divorce, liabilities, and earning capacity, are taken into account.
  4. Employability: The employment history and ability of each spouse to gain employment or acquire necessary job skills are considered. (This often a worry of the earning spouse).
  5. Standard of Living: The lifestyle enjoyed during the marriage may influence the amount of alimony awarded.
  6. Tax Implications: Tax considerations, such as whether alimony payments are taxable or tax-deductible, are also taken into consideration.

How Our Attorneys Review Maintenance

Our firm takes a proactive approach to alimony cases, aiming to provide our clients with comprehensive support and advocacy. Here’s how we help our clients get an accurate picture of their income and their expenses to determine what those numbers are going to look like after their divorce:

  1. Financial Analysis: We conduct a thorough review of our client’s financial situation, including income, expenses, assets, and debts, to ensure a clear understanding of their financial needs.
  2. Opposing Party’s Ability to Pay: We assess the other party’s financial capability to pay alimony, ensuring that our clients’ interests are protected and their rights are upheld.
  3. Dispute Resolution: We strive to resolve disputes related to alimony through negotiation and mediation whenever possible, seeking amicable solutions that benefit our clients.

Types of Spousal Support

When facing a divorce in Colorado, there are different types of spousal support arrangements that can be court-ordered based on the circumstances of the divorcing couple.

  1. Temporary Alimony: When a spouse asks for financial support during the divorce process, it’s called temporary alimony. This support lasts until the divorce is final. Once the divorce is done, whatever the judge decides about spousal support becomes official.
  2. Rehabilitative Alimony: This is the most common type. It’s about giving financial support for a set time until the receiver can support themselves. This might mean until they finish school or get training for a job.
  3. Reimbursement Alimony: When one spouse helped pay for the other’s education or training during the marriage. This support is like paying back the money spent on improving the other person’s skills. The receiver has to pay it back over time.
  4. Permanent Alimony: While some states have stopped giving permanent alimony, Colorado still does. If you’ve been married for a long time, like 20 years or more, or if you’re older or have a disability, you might qualify for lifelong spousal support.

Receiving Alimony in Colorado (Or Paying Your Fair Share)

If you are seeking spousal support in Colorado, or worried about overpaying, it’s essential to understand your rights and the legal process involved. Here are some key steps to consider:

  1. Consult with an Attorney: A qualified family law attorney can provide personalized advice and guidance based on your specific circumstances. They can help you understand your rights and options regarding alimony and represent your interests in court if necessary.
  2. Gather Financial Documentation: To support your maintenance claim, gather relevant financial documentation, including income statements, tax returns, bank statements, and expenses. This information will help demonstrate your financial needs and capabilities to the court.
  3. Negotiate with Your Spouse: If possible, try to negotiate an agreement with your spouse outside of court through attorney-guided divorce mediation or collaborative law. This approach can save time, money, and emotional stress compared to litigating spousal support issues in court.
  4. Consider a Prenuptial Agreement: If you’re getting married or already married, consider creating a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that outlines provisions in case of divorce. A well-drafted agreement can provide clarity and predictability regarding maintenance arrangements.
  5. Work with Legal Professionals: Work closely with your attorney and other legal professionals to navigate the alimony process effectively. They can provide valuable advice, negotiate on your behalf, and represent you in court proceedings to ensure your rights are protected.

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How Maintenance is Determined

What Judges Look At

There are multiple factors that judges weigh when determining what amount is appropriate. In addition to the set criteria specified in the Colorado Revised Statutes, Colorado has a maintenance calculator that is used to make a rough estimate on what the maintenance will look like. The calculator provides a guideline, but the parties can agree to a different amount and ultimately, the judge has the power and discretion to make the determination based upon the language of Colorado maintenance statutes. Factors that the judge will look at can include length of marriage, ability to pay, lifestyle, educational background and other factors.

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Length of Marriage

The longer your marriage, the more likely it will be that alimony or spousal support is awarded in your case. The 20 year mark is considered a “long term” marriage. Marriages over 20 years could qualify for permanent maintenance/spousal support.

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Ability to Pay

Even if you have a long term marriage, the spouse being asked to pay maintenance must have the actual means to do so. Even in a long term marriage, the maintenance award may be non-existent or small if earnings are not high enough.

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The spouse asking for maintenance must have a true need for such payments, meaning, among other things that the receiving spouse must not be able to earn enough income on his or her own and not have sufficient property to meet his or her reasonable needs.

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Spousal Support Calculators and Guidelines

How to Prepare for Maintenance

These guidelines are not binding in any court, however, it may be useful during maintenance negotiations to look at these guidelines. You can download the maintenance guideline worksheet. However, these guidelines only provide the Court with a possible scenario for maintenance payments and are not appropriate in every case.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do alimony payments work?

Alimony, also called maintenance, is an amount of money awarded by the court from one spouse to the other as continuing support after the marriage has ended. These payments are usually made on a monthly basis from one party to the other.

How long do alimony payments last?

Under the family laws of Colorado, spousal support is often paid for a set term and can be awarded on a temporary basis. Spousal maintenance may also be modifiable or non-modifiable by agreement of the parties. The duration of maintenance depends on a number of factors, including the length of the marriage. Alimony can also be paid at once in a lump sum, or on a continual basis.

Is alimony modifiable?

In Colorado, maintenance is modifiable by the court unless the parties enter into contractual maintenance. The parties can contract on the amount and/or term of maintenance. If maintenance is modifiable it stays modifiable (unless later on it is terminated or the parties agree to something else). After 20 years of marriage the maintenance term is a minimum of 10 years, but parties could agree to something else.

Is alimony the same as child support?

Maintenance and child support payments both support the needs of a family, but are based on two different legal constructs. Each payment is individual of the other but the amount paid for one can influence the amount of the other.

Can you avoid alimony in Colorado?

While avoiding spousal support entirely may not always be possible, skilled legal representation can help negotiate favorable terms or explore alternative solutions to minimize the financial impact.

Am I exempt from alimony if I have a common-law marriage?

Whether you are exempt from alimony in a common law marriage depends on various factors, including the duration of the relationship and the financial circumstances of both parties. Consulting with a knowledgeable Denver divorce attorney can provide clarity on your specific situation.

Is alimony taxable in Colorado?

Maintenance payments are taxable income for the recipient and tax-deductible for the paying spouse under federal tax laws. However, it’s essential to consult with a tax advisor to understand the tax implications fully.

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