Understanding Alimony In Colorado

April 4, 2021

Understanding Alimony

At first glance, understanding alimony in Colorado can seem overwhelming. The Colorado Revised Statutes Section Section 14-10-114 explains that since couples often share expenses and income during the marriage, it is appropriate in some situations for the higher-earning spouse to pay a certain amount of income to the lower-earning spouse. The court determines this amount and the higher-earning spouse can pay it in either a lump sum or monthly payments. It is important to note that alimony is also called spousal maintenance and, in some cases, spousal support in Colorado. These terms are interchangeable. If you are interested in learning more about how you may have the right to receive spousal support or will have a legal obligation to pay alimony, contact the experienced family law attorneys at Johnson Law Group at (720) 463-4333 or at Text-to-Chat (720) 730-4558 today to learn more.

Different Types of Alimony

Not all alimony situations are the same, and the amount of money paid and received, as well as the duration of payments, can vary. There are several different types of spousal support that Colorado courts acknowledge. These include:

  • Temporary
  • Rehabilitative
  • Reimbursement
  • Permanent

Temporary Support

Temporary support refers to financial support that one spouse provides to the other during the divorce process.

Rehabilitative Support

Rehabilitative support is the most common form of spousal support. It is a temporary form of spousal support that supports the lower-earning spouse while they focus on becoming self-supporting. During this time, the lower-earning spouse may be expected to pursue training or study and then search for a job. The end date for payments is not set in advance. The payments stop once the spouse no longer needs to depend on the higher-earning spouse.

Reimbursement Support

Reimbursement support refers to a specific situation where one spouse receives compensation for supporting the other while that spouse is training for a lucrative professional career. They may have supported the spouse by paying for the other spouse’s training or giving up professional opportunities so that the other spouse could pursue the training. In this situation, both spouses assumed they would benefit as a couple from the spouse’s training and a higher salary. Now that they are divorcing, however, the spouse who provided support will not benefit from the other spouse’s training and is entitled to reimbursement support. Payments end when an agreement or court order specifies the end date.

Permanent support

Permanent support is a rare form of alimony and is typically relevant to marriages that have lasted over ten years. In these situations, the lower-earning spouse may not be able to return to work, whether because of age, illness, disability, or other reasons, and will need support indefinitely. It may end if the receiving spouse remarries. While some states do not allow permanent support, Colorado is a state that does. Consider visiting with an experienced divorce attorney at Johnson Law Group to understand if this type of spousal support may apply to your situation.

Eligibility for Alimony

One of the reasons why understanding alimony in Colorado can seem so difficult is that it can be confusing to try and understand who is actually eligible for alimony. People sometimes assume that only the wife is eligible for alimony and that the husband must always pay alimony. While men are typically not the recipients of alimony, that may be changing. Pew Research Center reports that mothers are now the primary earners in four out of ten American families. In this present day and age, the higher-earning spouse may not automatically be male. What all of this goes to say is that either party may file for alimony and neither spouse is automatically entitled to alimony.

When a party requests alimony the court will take into account several factors to decide whether it is appropriate to award spousal maintenance. These factors may include:

  • The gross income of each spouse
  • Property distribution among spouses
  • The length of the marriage
  • Each spouse's financial resources
  • Education levels
  • Employment history
  • Child custody arrangements
  • Financial needs

Misconduct and Its Impact on Alimony

Many people may assume misconduct, such as infidelity, psychological abuse or criminal actions plays a role in determining the amount of spousal support someone must provide. This is typically not the case. However, there are some exceptions. For example, if that misconduct impacts the family’s financial circumstances - such as if a cheating partner depletes the marital estate to have an affair. These situations can prove legally challenging and visiting with an experienced family law attorney can help you better understand your financial rights in your divorce.

How Alimony Amounts Are Determined

There are statutory guidelines for how the amount of spousal support in Colorado is determined. This is based on a formula that takes 40% of the higher-earning spouse’s monthly income and subtracts half of the lower-earning spouse’s monthly income. If the higher-earning spouse’s monthly income is $5,000 and the lower-earning spouse’s monthly income is $2,000 the spousal support award would be $1000. Here is how:

  • 40% of the higher-earning spouse’s income is $2000
  • 50% of the lower-earning spouse’s income is $1000
  • $1000 subtracted from $2000 is $1000, or the monthly spousal support required

In some cases, the judge may order a temporary award of spousal support. In Colorado, marriages that lasted between three and twenty years have specific guidelines for how long that support will last.

  • 3 years: 31% of the duration of marriage or 11 months
  • 5 years: 35% of the duration of the marriage or 21 months
  • 10 years: 45% of the duration of the marriage or 54 months
  • 15 years to 20 years: 50% of the duration of the marriage

It is important to note that while these guidelines provide some idea of how alimony will be calculated, these guidelines are not binding and not every outcome will be the same. Additionally, the maintenance formula is specific to couples whose combined annual gross income is less than $240,000 and the duration formula applies to marriages that had a duration of between three and twenty years.

Consider How an Attorney Can Help You Through the Process

An important aspect of understanding alimony in Colorado is having an expert who can understand your needs and guide you through the process. At Johnson Law Group, experienced family lawyers can help you navigate the intricacies of spousal support in Colorado as you deal with this difficult time. To set up a consultation call (720) 463-4333 or text-to-chat (720) 730-4558.

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Written by Family Law Attorney Myles S. Johnson
Divorce doesn’t have to be dramatic. For the litigants, losing your spouse is significant enough. But you can choose the way it affects your daily life. The only guarantee I can give is that the feeling that you have right now will not be the feeling you end with. This is a season in your life, and it must be approached that way.
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