Spousal maintenance is a payment one former spouse pays the other after a divorce – but not everyone qualifies for it. For most people, it makes sense to work with a Fort Collins divorce attorney if you or your spouse intends to ask for this type of support.
Here’s what you need to know about spousal maintenance, whether you’ll have to pay it or whether you’ll be on the receiving end.
What is Spousal Maintenance?
Commonly called alimony, the court awards spousal maintenance when the judge in a case feels as if it’s necessary to help one spouse when the other spouse can afford it.
Spousal maintenance isn’t an automatic thing. One party must request it from the court in order for the judge to consider it.
If a judge does order spousal maintenance, it can be paid over time on a monthly basis or in a lump sum. There’s no hard-and-fast rule about how long someone will pay or receive alimony, either; the court evaluates spousal maintenance on a case-by-case basis. Usually, the timeframe has a lot to do with how long the marriage lasted and how long it would take for the receiving spouse to get on his or her feet and become self-sufficient.
Spousal Maintenance and Fault
Under Colorado law, it doesn’t matter who is at fault for the divorce. In fact, the law says, “An award of maintenance shall be in an amount and for a term that is fair and equitable to both parties and shall be made without regard to marital misconduct.”
That means your spousal maintenance award doesn’t hinge on whether one of you cheated, abandoned the family or did anything else that you may consider marital misconduct.
How Does a Judge Decide Whether to Award Spousal Maintenance?
A judge decides whether spousal maintenance is appropriate based on several factors. The court will consider:
- The financial resources of the person seeking maintenance
- Whether the spouse asking for maintenance can provide for his or her own needs independently
- How long it might take the requesting spouse to acquire education or training that would help him or her get a job
- The standard of living established during the marriage
- The age of the spouse asking for maintenance
- The physical and emotional condition of the spouse asking for maintenance
- The ability of the other spouse to pay alimony while still meeting his or her own needs
If one party can’t pay alimony, the judge is very unlikely to award it. (The court isn’t in the business of plunging people into debt.)
The Colorado Spousal Maintenance Calculator
Colorado has specific maintenance guidelines that judges have to go by when they’re determining support amounts. However, the court will also consider the additional factors (more on that later) when it’s determining how much money will change hands for alimony.
Check out the Colorado spousal maintenance calculator now to estimate how much you’re likely to pay or receive.
Additional Factors That Determine the Amount of Spousal Maintenance in Your Colorado Divorce
When one party requests spousal maintenance, the court will need to know:
- Each party’s gross (before tax) income
- How much marital property each spouse will receive
- Each party’s financial resources
- Whether one party has a reasonable financial need as established during the marriage
The formula itself can be a little confusing, which is why it’s helpful to use the maintenance calculator and talk to your divorce attorney about what you’re likely to pay or receive.
Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About Spousal Maintenance in Colorado?
If you’re thinking about divorce, or if your spouse has already filed, we may be able to help you. We can also help you ask the court for spousal maintenance if it’s necessary in your case.
Call us at 970-488-1887 for a free consultation with an experienced divorce attorney in Fort Collins right now. We’ll answer all your questions and explain spousal maintenance, property division, child custody and other aspects of divorce so you can get the peace of mind you deserve.