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Can I Modify my Maintenance?

Once Maintenance (also referred to as alimony or spousal support) is made an Order of the Court, it is only reviewable or modifiable in limited circumstances.  First, make sure the maintenance was not “contractual maintenance,” which cannot be modified by the Court.  Also look to terms of maintenance to see the duration and when it terminates, which may be upon a final payment date or an event like remarriage, civil union, or cohabitation of the receiving party.  And otherwise, you may be able to modify maintenance upon a showing of “changed circumstances so substantial and continuing as to make the terms unfair.”  C.R.S. §14-10-122(1)(a); see In re Marriage of Thorstad, 2019, 2019 COA 13, ¶2. 

The issue  for the Court to review is not if the current circumstances amount to a different maintenance amount but is whether the original award has become unfair.  See In re Marriage of Tooker, 2019 COA 83, ¶35; see also In re Marriage of Weibel, 965 P.2d 126, 129 (Colo. App. 1998).  And in determining such, the court must examine all circumstances pertinent to awarding maintenance under C.R.S. §14-10-114.  Thorstad, ¶2; In re Marriage of Nelson, 2012 COA 205, ¶26.  This includes examination of all relevant circumstances of both parties, including the expenses of both parties.  In re Marriage of Udis, 780 P.2d 499, 503 (Colo. 1989).

It is within the district court’s sound discretion based on the evidence presented, and absent a showing of abuse of discretion, shall not be disturbed upon review.  Nelson, ¶27.  The change in the maintenance obligation is appropriate because changes in circumstances are so substantial and continuing as to make the terms of the Court’s previous Order in the Decree of Dissolution of Marriage unfair, and the maintenance obligation should be modified.

When filing a motion to modify, you should look to changes in each party’s income (and age of retirement), the paying party’s ability to pay, and the receiving party’s need for support.  Updated Sworn Financial Statements, financial disclosures and support worksheets are typically filed with a motion to modify support. 

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