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Colorado Spousal Maintenance Rules

Colorado Spousal Maintenance Rules

Colorado Spousal Maintenance Rules

Spousal maintenance (alimony) is often the most hotly contentious aspect of divorce in Colorado. In a spousal maintenance order, a judge directs the higher-earning spouse to pay monthly support to a lower-earning or non-earning spouse. Spousal maintenance orders are also sometime called “spousal support.” These payments are meant to prevent a sudden dramatic change in lifestyle for one spouse after the divorce.

Marriage is a legal contract between two individuals as well as an emotional bond. Breaking that contract causes legal repercussions that may include spousal maintenance payments.

Temporary Vs. Permanent Spousal Maintenance

If one spouse faces immediate financial hardship during the separation and divorce process, they may request temporary spousal maintenance payments until the finalization of the divorce. Once the judge issues the final decree, it may or may not include permanent spousal maintenance orders depending on the circumstances of the case. If the distribution of the spouse’s marital assets alleviates the spouse’s hardship, the judge may choose not to award further maintenance. Any maintenance ordered at the final hearing is called “permanent maintenance orders” even though they typically have a time limit.

Why Do Courts Order Spousal Maintenance in Colorado?

A judge may award one spouse spousal maintenance during and after a divorce if the divorce will cause financial hardship or an alteration in the lifestyle they enjoyed during the marriage. There are specific circumstances that make an order for spousal maintenance appropriate in the eyes of Colorado family courts. For instance, spousal support may be in order if the following conditions existed during the marriage:

  • A spouse put their career or education goals on hold to support the other spouse through their education and career advancement
  • A spouse left the workplace or reduced their working hours to care for the children and the home
  • One spouse earns significantly less than the other and their share of the marital assets isn’t enough to support them
  • A spouse has young children to care for at home which prevents a full-time return to work
  • A spouse has aged out of the workforce, particularly after a long-term marriage
  • A spouse’s medical or mental health condition makes it difficult or impossible for them to support themselves

An award for spousal maintenance has a substantial impact on both parties after the divorce and is separate from child support orders. While child support is an automatic obligation under the law and follows a formula to calculate the amount and determine which parent pays and which is the recipient, spousal support is decided on an individual, case-by-case basis.

Is Spousal Maintenance Permanent in Colorado Divorces?

Only under rare circumstances does a judge order permanent spousal support in Colorado, for instance, after a long-term marriage when one spouse’s age or medical condition prevents them from working. In most cases, spousal support orders are rehabilitative, or put in place for a specific amount of time. During that time, the recipient must take steps to become self-sufficient by seeking employment, increasing their work hours, or furthering their education to secure a higher-paying position.

Call the Spousal Maintenance Lawyers at Ciancio Ciancio Brown, P.C.

If you’re facing spousal support orders in your divorce or seeking an order for temporary or permanent spousal maintenance, the Denver alimony and spousal support lawyers at Ciancio Ciancio Brown, P.C. are ready to put our decades of experience in this area of Colorado divorce law behind your case. Reach out to our spousal maintenance attorneys today to set up a consultation.