February 11, 2021

Five myths about Colorado Alimony Law

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 considerations.
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 remarries.

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.