THE REPRESENTATION YOU NEED IN ORDER TO PROTECT YOUR FAMILY
Posted in Spousal support on June 21, 2018
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 family law attorney 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.
Alimony is one of the more hotly debated aspects of many divorce cases. Alimony, referred to as “spousal maintenance” in Colorado, is a court-ordered payment one spouse must give to the other spouse after a divorce or legal separation. A spouse may have to pay alimony for the maintenance and support of a dependent spouse. A “dependent” spouse is one who makes less money than the other spouse. There are many considerations when determining alimony – a main one of which is the type.
Colorado courts recognize five types of alimony:
If one spouse is unable to support him or herself during a legal separation, the courts may order the other spouse to pay maintenance or alimony. The question of self-sufficiency in these situations may depend on the spouse’s job, income, housing payments, bills, and the lifestyle he/she grew accustomed to during the marriage.
If you and your spouse reconcile, alimony payments end. If you turn your legal separation into a divorce, the courts may change your separation alimony into another type. Separation alimony may also be “temporary alimony” if the courts award it to a spouse during divorce proceedings. Temporary alimony can include payment for daily expenses and divorce costs, and it will end/change upon official termination of the marriage.
When one spouse is not self-sufficient, the courts may order rehabilitative alimony to give the spouse a financial crutch while he/she finds the means to care for him/herself (and any minor children included). Typically, courts order this type of alimony for a specific amount of time, giving the receiving spouse a timeframe for finding employment or expanding employment skills.
There is no set amount of time for rehabilitative alimony – the judge will make this determination based on the specifics of each individual case. Once the spouse can earn money and take care of him or herself, the other spouse can stop making maintenance payments. When the timeframe ends, the court will review the situation and make appropriate changes.
A judge may order this type of alimony to reimburse a spouse if he or she paid for the other spouse’s education or job skill training during marriage. In these situations, the spouse who accepted the gift during marriage will have to repay the expenses in alimony payments – either a full or partial amount.
In a permanent alimony agreement, the courts order payments to continue indefinitely. The spouse making maintenance payments will have to continue making them monthly until the courts order otherwise. Colorado judges will consider issues that affect employability, such as physical health and age, when ordering permanent alimony. The courts may make this order for many reasons, including if the dependent spouse:
- Has a disability or handicap and is unable to work.
- Married without having any employment skills.
- Has no work experience due to raising children and/or taking care of the home during marriage.
- Cannot maintain the standard of living he/she enjoyed while married without alimony.
Despite the name, this type of alimony is not always permanent in Colorado. Typically, courts will not order alimony forever, except in some long-term marriages (20 years or longer). Instead, one spouse must make maintenance payments until the dependent spouse can acquire sufficient job skills to support him or herself.
Lump Sum Alimony
If one spouse does not want any assets, property, or items of value form the marriage, a judge may order the other spouse to pay a one-time lump-sum alimony, or “alimony in gross” in lieu of the property.
If you and your spouse are considering a legal separation or divorce in Colorado, contact the spousal support attorneys at the Law Office of Stephen Vertucci, LLC. Talk to a lawyer at our office to learn about each type of alimony in more depth according to your specific situation.