In the state of Colorado, alimony is referred to as “spousal maintenance.”
These are payments of a set amount that must be paid from one spouse to
the other mostly during divorce proceedings, but may also extend into
the foreseeable future, as well. Let’s take a look at five common
myths surrounding the legal concept of alimony:
Permanent Spousal Maintenance Lasts Forever
When it comes to spousal maintenance payments, the word “permanent”
isn’t necessarily the best to describe most settlements. In fact,
truly permanent lifelong maintenance is becoming increasingly rare. The
term “permanent” in this case merely refers to the fact that
the payments do continue for a designated length of time beyond the end
of the divorce proceedings. As a general principle, the longer the marriage
has lasted, the longer the alimony payments will be ordered, but truly
lifelong permanent maintenance is only ever granted in very rare circumstances.
My Spousal Maintenance Payments/Awards Depend Entirely on my Lawyer
While it is undoubtedly important to retain a skilled Colorado divorce
lawyer when going through divorce proceedings in order to obtain the best
settlement you can, there are legal precedents set in place for determining
alimony awards. You should always speak with a skilled lawyer if you have
any questions regarding your eligibility to make or receive payments and
determine if your unique income situation qualifies you for any special
Colorado’s courts treat alimony payments as rehabilitative, giving
one spouse a chance to improve their life by finding a new place to live,
further their education, or in some way improve their livelihood in order
to be better prepared for life without the income of their former spouse.
Formulas are in place to help determine these payments, but a judge has
the power to address special circumstances.
My Spousal Maintenance Settlement is Final
This is false. Spousal maintenance awards can be adjusted or even terminated
due to a change in circumstances. For example, if the recipient of spousal
maintenance is able to get a job and adequately support themselves and
their quality of life, then both parties may agree to terminate the payments
early. Likewise, many spousal maintenance awards terminate if the recipient
Men are the Only Ones who Pay Spousal Maintenance
Men are not the only ones who work, and in many households, are not the
primary income earner. Thus, men can receive alimony payments. The spousal
maintenance formula for Colorado couples factors in individual income,
the length of a marriage, and property ownership and allocation, but makes
no reference to any gender restrictions for either side of an arrangement.
Common Law Marriages Don’t Have Spousal Maintenance
Common law marriages are somewhat of a grey area in Colorado law, as there
is no defined amount of time two people must be together before their
union may be considered marriage by common law. The biggest factor in
these cases is whether there is an agreement and general assumption of
marriage to the public. Filling a joint tax return, having a combined
bank account, or filing for married benefits with insurance companies
can even constitute a public assumption of marriage and subject the higher
income earner to make spousal maintenance payments should the couple split up.
Peek Family Law, LLC
is a Denver family attorney specializing in all matters of family law,
including adoption, divorce, custody, and many other matters. A graduate
cum laude from the Tomas M. Cooley Law School, Attorney Peek has the knowledge
and insight to help you with whatever your family legal needs may be.
If you have a question pertaining to your legal options or would like to
have your case evaluated,
contact Peek Family Law, LLC online or by phone at 303.857.5797 today.