Alimony, or “spousal maintenance,” is a payment structure that plays an important role in divorce. When a couple divorces, it’s likely one spouse makes more money than the other, and the judge handling the case may require alimony payments to the lower-earning spouse. In many cases, the judge will require these payments to continue into the foreseeable future, or for a set amount of time.
The goal of alimony is to provide financial rehabilitation to a lower-earning spouse for enough time that he or she can improve his or her financial situation. Alimony can also help a divorcing spouse find a new place to live. While it’s vital to understand how alimony may play a role in your pending divorce, it’s also important to separate myth from fact concerning alimony. There are several myths and misconceptions surrounding alimony in Colorado.
Myth #1: Alimony Payments Are Permanent
The judge may decree “permanent” alimony payments, but this probably isn’t the best word to describe this type of payment structure. “Permanent” alimony payments will extend to a specifically designated length of time beyond the end of the marriage. They may also continue longer if the marriage has been along one. Judges very rarely grant lifelong alimony payments and typically only do so in rare and unique circumstances.
Myth #2: The Amount I Receive in Alimony Is Up to My Attorney
While hiring an experienced divorce lawyer is a good idea for anyone expecting to divorce in the future, it’s important to remember there are several legal precedents in place for determining alimony. The court already has eligibility criteria in place, regardless of your lawyer’s level of experience. Depending on the financial health and assets of each spouse, the alimony structure can fluctuate greatly.
Myth #3: My Alimony Settlement Is Final
Your alimony settlement is not set in stone. Several factors may justify an adjustment or termination to your alimony. For example, if an ex-spouse receiving alimony earns a promotion and sizeable pay increase, the exes may decide to terminate the alimony payments early. If the recipient of alimony payments remarries, alimony payments will stop. You may also file a petition to have your alimony payments reduced or terminated if you have evidence that your ex-spouse’s financial situation has improved since the divorce or he or she hid financial assets during the alimony settlement.
Myth #4: Only Men Pay Spousal Maintenance
Men are often not the only spouse working, and men are not the primary income earner in many American households. The formula for calculating alimony refers to individual income, the length of the marriage, and the couple’s shared property. There are no sex-based restrictions for alimony. While it may be more common for ex-husbands to pay alimony to their ex-wives, a woman does not automatically receive alimony payments after divorce simply for being a woman. Any woman who divorces a lower-earning husband should expect to pay some type of alimony to her ex-husband if the divorce meets the appropriate criteria.
Myth #5: Common Law Marriage Doesn’t Qualify for Alimony
Common law marriages are still something of a grey area in Colorado, so there is no definitive way to gauge when two people living together are married under common law. If such a couple separates, alimony is still possible with sufficient evidence to prove both partners shared financial assets, such as jointly filed tax returns, joint bank accounts, and joint insurance policies.
If you are unsure about alimony or worried about how much you may owe a soon-to-be ex-spouse, speak with a reliable alimony attorney in Fort Collins as soon as possible. An attorney can help you build a strong case to receive the alimony payments you deserve, or to avoid paying more alimony than you reasonably should pay.