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Making ends meet during and after divorce in Colorado

Getting a divorce can really tighten a person’s purse strings. Some families transition from a two-income family to a two one-income families with varying expenses. There are other families that transition from one spouse who remained at home to care for the children while the other spouse pursued his or her career goals. No matter the situation, divorce can create challenges, and changes in lifestyle may have to be made. Some spouses in Colorado will be eligible to receive spousal maintenance payments from their former spouse. Spousal maintenance payments help people lessen financial stress and keep a similar lifestyle to the one they enjoyed while married.

Who can receive spousal maintenance in Colorado?

Anyone who was legally married in Colorado may be able to receive spousal maintenance. The most significant factors that the court looks at when awarding spousal maintenance is the need of the requesting spouse and the ability of the other spouse to pay. The Colorado legislature has developed guidelines for the courts to look at when determining whether to award spousal maintenance. These guidelines include such things as:

  • The length of the marriage
  • The standard of living that the couple enjoyed during the marriage
  • The assets and debts of the spouse requesting spousal maintenance, including the marital property awarded and whether or not the spouse can meet his or her own needs independently
  • What it will take for the spouse to get sufficient training and education necessary to become appropriately employed
  • The ability of the paying spouse to meet his or her needs while making maintenance payments
  • Age, physical and emotional health of the spouse asking for maintenance

The court will not take marital misconduct into consideration when awarding spousal maintenance. Colorado is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that divorces will be awarded even if there was no wrongdoing.

Maintenance can either be temporary or permanent. These factors will come into play anytime spousal maintenance is requested. Temporary maintenance means maintenance paid only during the duration of the divorce proceedings, while permanent maintenance refers to payments made after the divorce is final. Permanent maintenance may be paid for only a specified amount of time; it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will last for the rest of the person’s life.

Modification of spousal maintenance payments

Spousal maintenance is generally modifiable, but spouses may enter into an agreement limiting or denying the right to modify payments. If one spouse wishes to modify spousal maintenance payments, that person must petition the court and show that there was a substantial and continuing change in circumstances that makes the current maintenance award unfair. For example, this could mean that the spouse receiving spousal maintenance has taken a job and is now a high earner. Under Colorado law, maintenance is terminated if one of the spouses dies or if the spouse receiving maintenance remarries.

Colorado residents dealing with spousal maintenance issues should contact a family law attorney to help them through the process. This is an important issue. Divorces are hard enough and should not require a significant lifestyle change.