According to statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, about 243,000 people received alimony in 2016. In a typical divorce situation, spousal maintenance, formerly known as alimony, is usually awarded to the lower-earning spouse or the one who has been out of work during the marriage and requires financial support from their estranged partner following the divorce.
If you need help understanding your options regarding alimony in a divorce, it is important that you consult with experienced Colorado family law attorneys. At Snodgrass Family Law, we are committed to offering knowledgeable guidance and advocacy to individuals and families in complex divorce issues and alimony matters. Our attorneys will review your situation, educate you about your possible legal options, and guide you through every phase involved in establishing or modifying spousal support agreements.
Our team at Snodgrass Family Law proudly serves clients in Lakewood, Colorado, and the surrounding communities of Arvada, Frisco, Golden, Littleton, and the greater Denver area.
Alimony, also known as spousal support, is a court-ordered arrangement in which the higher-earning spouse in a divorce provides financial assistance to the lower-earning spouse for a period during or after the divorce. The purpose of spousal maintenance (alimony) is to eliminate income disparity and ensure the lower-earning spouse isn't left destitute.
Colorado recognizes different types of alimony during and after a divorce. These include:
Temporary alimony or "pendente lite support" is a financial provision from one spouse to the other party during the divorce process. This financial provision will help the supported spouse with attorney fees and daily living expenses while the divorce process is ongoing. Temporary alimony ends once the divorce has been finalized.
Rehabilitative alimony serves as a financial provision from the higher-earning spouse to help the lower-earning spouse become self-supporting. These alimony payments will continue until the supported spouse completes their education, earns a college degree, secures a new job, or acquires additional job skills and becomes self-supporting. This is the most common type of spousal support in Colorado.
At times, one spouse may fund the other spouse's education or job training during their marriage. In such situations, the court may award reimbursement support. This is to reimburse the other spouse through alimony payments since only the recipient of the training will now benefit from it following their divorce.
Permanent support requires one spouse to make ongoing monthly payments to the other spouse on a recurring basis. This type of spousal maintenance is awarded in extreme divorce cases in which one spouse is critically ill, disabled, or otherwise unable to secure employment and become financially independent as a result of advanced age. Such support payments will continue indefinitely until the remarriage or death of the recipient spouse.
Either spouse can petition for alimony in Colorado, regardless of gender. As mentioned above, the purpose of alimony is to eliminate any unfair financial or economic impact of the divorce by making adequate financial provision for the lower-earning or non-earning spouse. Alimony will be awarded if the requesting spouse needs financial assistance and the other spouse has the means to pay.
To determine the type, amount, and duration of spousal support in Colorado, the following factors may be considered:
The duration or length of the marriage
The age, physical condition, and mental health of the spouses
The lifestyle that was established by the spouses during the marriage
The property distribution in the divorce
The current employment status of each spouse
The couple's income, earning capacity, level of education, and employability
The financial resources of each spouse, including marital and non-marital assets and liability
The duration and amount of temporary support during the divorce proceedings
The time needed for the requesting spouse to complete their education, acquire additional job training or vocational skill to enable them to get employment or become self-supporting
The significant contribution of one spouse to the other spouse’s educational, economic, or occupational advancement
Other factors deemed relevant by the court
The court will only consider spousal maintenance as appropriate if the marriage lasted for over three years. Colorado Revised Statute 14-10-114(3)(b)(II)(B) establishes the term of maintenance for marriages lasting from between three and 20 years:
3 years — 31% for 11 months
5 years — 35% for 21 months
10 years — 45% for 54 months
15 years — 50% for 90 months
20 years — 50% for 120 months
For marriages lasting longer than 20 years, a spouse may be awarded permanent alimony.
Unless there is a written agreement between the couples not to seek modification to the alimony agreement, the court can change spousal maintenance payments as a result of a material change in circumstances. Some examples of circumstances that may merit a change in the existing alimony order include:
A substantial decrease in income of the paying spouse
Adjustments in the cost of living
The supported spouse no longer needs financial assistance
Cohabitation or remarriage
The receiving spouse is not making any reasonable effort to get secure new employment or become self-supporting
New financial obligations for the paying spouse
Spousal maintenance automatically terminates once the receiving spouse remarries or dies.
Filing for divorce and requesting alimony can involve a lot of complexities. Trying to negotiate a divorce settlement with your ex-partner or establishing spousal support arrangements can make the entire process even more stressful and overwhelming. If you are considering filing for a divorce, consulting with an experienced family law attorney is crucial to receive detailed legal guidance on alimony arrangements.
At Snodgrass Family Law, we have extensive resources and experience to guide clients who need help with alimony in their divorce. Our attorneys are available to discuss your circumstances and educate you about your legal options. Whether you are trying to establish a spousal maintenance arrangement or modify an existing alimony agreement, we can offer you the experienced legal counsel and reliable advocacy you need to make key decisions. Our attorneys will fight to protect your rights and best interests.
If you are thinking about filing for divorce and need help establishing alimony arrangements, contact us at Snodgrass Family Law for a consultation. We can offer you the legal guidance and advocacy you need to establish or change a spousal support agreement. We're proud to serve clients in Lakewood and the communities of Arvada, Frisco, Golden, Littleton, and Denver, Colorado.