Court-mandated alimony, or spousal support, is common in Colorado. However, whether you’ll receive alimony (or how long you’ll pay for it) depends on different factors, such as the length of the marriage, each spouse’s income, and the number of children in your care.
The goal of the alimony proceedings is to allow both spouses to meet their financial obligations, including the lifestyle that they had during their marriage. Different types of alimony also exist to fill different needs, so how long you will have to pay alimony can differ.
Statutory maintenance is the only type of alimony that a Colorado judge can mandate during the divorce proceedings. While the duration of statutory maintenance can vary, Colorado statutes suggest that it be paid for up to fifty percent of the length of the marriage.
However, said statute only addresses marriages between three and twenty years, and that percentage starts low and rises as the term increases.
This statute is only a suggestion, meaning the judge doesn’t need to adhere to it when deciding what to do. For example, the judge may decide to mandate alimony payments for marriages as short as one or two years, depending on the needs of the couple in question.
In marriages longer than 20 years, a judge can also decide to award alimony for life. This practice is more common among elderly couples who may be too advanced in age to find a job and maintain their current lifestyle without spousal support.
In some cases, a judge might decide that one party owes the other reimbursement alimony. For instance, if one spouse helped pay for the other's education during their marriage, they might be entitled to reimbursement.
You can often repay this type of alimony as a lump sum to minimize the time spent making payments. However, if you can't afford a lump sum, you can make regular payments until you settle the debt as well.
In the state of Colorado, it's relatively difficult to revise spousal maintenance after it's agreed upon. As long as the spousal maintenance is modifiable, all you need to do is petition the court for a change. However, for that modification to go through, you must prove that the current terms of the spousal maintenance are "unfair."
Unfortunately, since the wording of this law is rather vague, it can be challenging to prove in court that your circumstances are indeed unfair. A judge will examine the financial situations of both spouses to determine whether the spousal maintenance is still relevant or not.
In some cases, an alimony agreement cannot be modified once established. This may seem like a bad arrangement, but it can be well-suited to some individuals. While you won't be able to negotiate a payment modification if you lose your job, your ex also won't be able to fight for higher payments if you receive a pay increase, for example.
Having trouble navigating Colorado’s alimony laws? Reach out to our Colorado alimony lawyers at McCoy Family Law by phone at (720) 741-7442 or online today for a free initial consultation.