While many U.S. states do not look favorably upon those seeking alimony, Colorado is considered to be an alimony-friendly state. If you have begun legal divorce proceedings, it is important to understand Colorado’s alimony laws and how they will affect the dissolution of your marriage. Understanding your rights upfront can make a big difference down the road for you and your children. Before you hire a Denver spousal support attorney, here’s what you need to know:
HOW IS SPOUSAL MAINTENANCE DECIDED IN COLORADO?
Colorado courts refer to alimony as spousal maintenance. Some judges also refer to it as spousal support. While there are different ways to refer to alimony, the rules and regulations are the same and your lawyer will treat your case the same.
Colorado passed legislation in 2018 that strives to make spousal support more equitable across the state’s jurisdictions. The law was passed after several inconsistencies were found that made spousal support unfair in many circumstances and required the need for modifications.
After reviewing all evidence presented in the case, a judge determines which spouse receives spousal support, the amount of the support and the length of time it must be paid for. Read below for more information on the types of alimony you can receive and how payments are calculated.
WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF ALIMONY?
In Colorado, there are generally two types of alimony that are awarded: statutory maintenance and non-modifiable maintenance. Statutory maintenance is temporary support that can be ordered by a judge before a divorce decree is finalized. Non-modifiable spousal support is more permanent and must be agreed upon by both spouses in the legal proceedings.
Statutory Maintenance: Statutory maintenance must be granted by a judge during an official hearing. This type of alimony is permanent and is not granted until the divorce decree is official. However, there are also certain instances when spousal maintenance is awarded upon legal separation.
Colorado declares that alimony should be awarded as a percentage of the total length of the marriage. For short marriages, the awarding spouse may only receive compensation for a year or less. For longer marriages, the spouse may receive alimony for more than 10 years.
For example, if you are ending a marriage that lasted for three years, you may be required to pay spousal support for up to 11 months, accounting for approximately 31% of the total length of your marriage. Percentages increase as the term of the marriage increases. A judge may choose to award alimony to a spouse for up to 50% of the total length of the marriage. For example, if you have been married for 20 years, you are eligible to receive spousal maintenance for up to 10 years.
Some states consider a spouse’s conduct during the marriage when considering the amount and length of spousal support. Colorado courts, however, do not take into account marital misconduct when it comes to awarding alimony. Therefore, allegations of abuse or infidelity do not affect how much alimony is awarded or which party receives payment.
Alimony for Life: Many states have eliminated lifelong alimony out of worry that it is unsustainable and inequitable to the paying party. However, Colorado has not eliminated alimony for life. If you were married for more than 20 years, a spouse can be awarded alimony for life, depending on a variety of factors including age, health and the income of both parties. However, alimony for life is rarely awarded by Denver judges, especially to younger couples.
Non-Modifiable Maintenance: The type of alimony cannot be granted by a judge and is only awarded when both parties agree. These agreements outline the amount of the alimony and for how long that amount will be paid. These agreements are permanent regardless of changes in the income or employment situation of either party.
While non-modifiable alimony agreements are typically favored by couples who divorce on relatively good terms, you want to make sure you understand what you are agreeing to before the contract is executed. Because these agreements cannot be changed, you may be required to pay alimony even if you lose your job or suffer a disability. It is not recommended to draw up these agreements without the help of a Denver spousal support attorney. These agreements are binding and cannot be amended by a court of law. Therefore, you want to make sure everything is equitable before executing the contract.
HOW IS SPOUSAL MAINTENANCE DETERMINED?
Alimony is determined based on many factors, with income often being the most significant. However, judges take a holistic approach when determining spousal support, and income is not the only determining factor. Colorado courts also consider:
• The paying spouse’s ability to support himself or herself while paying alimony • The lifestyle the couple grew accustomed to during the marriage • The length of the union • The childcare responsibilities of each party • Employment status and history of each party • Whether temporary maintenance was paid • Age and health of each spouse • The division of property
Additionally, Colorado courts may also consider each party’s non-monetary contributions to the marriage when determining spousal maintenance.
HOW DO CHILDREN AFFECT ALIMONY?
When agreed upon by both members of the marriage, alimony arrangements are contractual and non-modifiable. However, if the court decides the terms of alimony, agreements can be changed at any time and for any reason.
If the couple has children, alimony is considered income for the receiving party and therefore impacts how child support is calculated. A high alimony payment is considered income and will result in a lower monthly child support payment.
Keep in mind that alimony is considered taxable income to the receiving party and is tax-deductible for the payor. On the other hand, child support payments are non-taxable to the recipient.
CONTACT DENVER SPOUSAL SUPPORT ATTORNEYS AT JOHNSON LAW GROUP
If you need representation to ensure all alimony agreements are fair and equitable, contact Johnson Law Group. Our team of lawyers has many years of experience in divorce law and will work to get you the support you deserve. You do not need to navigate the difficult divorce process alone. Contact Johnson Law Group today at 720-463-4333 to schedule an appointment or to discuss your representation options.
Our experience, dedication to Colorado families, and our success in each case we represent sets us apart from the competition. We are passionate about family and estate law. Our highly-qualified team will work tirelessly to achieve the best possible results in your case.
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