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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 alimony.

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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 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.

How Our Attorneys Review Maintenance

To help our clients navigate their cases, early on we get an accurate picture of their income and their expenses to determine what those numbers are going to look like after their divorce. In addition, we review the other party’s ability to pay. This helps us successfully resolve disputes and set expectations.

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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, alimony or spousal support is often paid for a set term and can be awarded on a temporary basis. Alimony or 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.

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.

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