When finalizing a divorce, different payment plans can be used as asset allocation to ensure that both parties are equally compensated. A spousal maintenance plan is one of the most common kinds of payment plans established in a divorce settlement. Understanding what this means, either as the recipient or the person making these payments, is necessary when adjusting to life after settling a divorce.
What Is Spousal Maintenance Support?
A higher-earning spouse must pay the lower-earning spouse alimony, or “spousal maintenance,” as it is known in Colorado, to effectively level the playing field during and after a divorce settlement. The court will either give out a spousal maintenance order or a decision that no alimony should be given to another spouse, which will have an impact on both parties in a divorce procedure. It is challenging to forecast the amount of support that may be awarded and whether alimony will even be given since courts take several variables into account before making a spousal maintenance decision.
One of the biggest areas of contention in divorce proceedings is spousal support payments. The amount that must be paid and whether or not the court awards these payments at all vary greatly from case to case. Because spousal support is contingent on each spouse’s presumed financial stability, these orders are usually handled after things like asset division or childcare decisions, which heavily impact financial stability.
Types Of Spousal Maintenance
Colorado’s spousal maintenance plans are calculated on a case-by-case basis, fitting the unique needs of each couple. Couples need to be married for at least three years to qualify for spousal support payments before more long-term spousal maintenance plans are used. For shorter marriages, shorter or temporary plans may be applicable. Some of the most common kinds of awarded alimony payments include:
- Temporary Spousal Maintenance. Temporary orders can be delivered for up to three years after the settlement of the divorce. They can also be administered during the divorce process before the final verdict is announced.
- Permanent Spousal Maintenance. This occurs when the divorce is finalized, and it may continue indefinitely. While determining this sort of alimony, the court takes into account many variables. Some of these are employability, health, age, and reliability. While this situation is called perpetual alimony, it may not necessarily remain permanent.
- Rehabilitation Spousal Support. This alimony is provided to help the receiving spouse regain financial stability and reestablish their ability to care for themselves and their children if they have any. These orders typically have a five-year maximum lifespan.
- Spousal Support Reimbursement. This kind of alimony is applied when there has been substantial financial support made by one spouse throughout the marriage. For example, funding the education of the other spouse.
- Separation Support. When a couple is not divorced yet but is separated, this alimony can apply. It cannot last over three years long, and will automatically stop if the couple decides to reconcile
Depending on each situation, the kind of alimony payment that properly suits the couple involved can vary. For example, if one spouse has a terminal illness and relies on disability to get by, the other, more financially capable spouse, can pay alimony payments to them permanently to help support their income. On the other hand, if the receiving spouse was in a position where they did not have to support themselves during their marriage, rehabilitative alimony payments can be made to help them regain financial stability while searching for a job.
Who Pays Spousal Maintenance?
Each spousal maintenance case is different, meaning that either party can end up paying spousal support. The higher-earning spouse is typically made to pay alimony payments to their ex-spouse. However, if the asset split between both is equal enough that the lower-earning spouse can financially support themselves after the divorce is settled, spousal maintenance support systems may not be needed. For example, if both spouses have full-time jobs, and their asset division is essentially 50/50, spousal support may not be necessary.
Q: How Is Spousal Maintenance Calculated in Colorado?
A: The alimony statute assisted in establishing certain standards for courts to adhere to when determining alimony payments. The amount of alimony is determined by Colorado courts by deducting 50% of the lower gross income from 40% of the higher-earning spouse’s gross income. The monthly spousal support payment is then calculated by multiplying the difference by 12. Other factors, like asset allocation and childcare responsibilities, are taken into account when calculating spousal support as well.
Q: Who Is Entitled to Spousal Maintenance Support in Colorado?
A: Spousal maintenance support is not guaranteed during divorce proceedings. The spouse looking for spousal maintenance payments must petition the court to review their position, and justification for the payments is provided and used to influence the court’s decision. For example, if one party was fully financially supported by their spouse during their marriage, they could submit a request for support payments to supplement their income while they find employment.
Q: Is Spousal Maintenance Support Required in Colorado?
A: Spousal maintenance support is not required in Colorado, unfortunately. The court is unlikely to impose spousal maintenance if both partners are capable of supporting themselves after the divorce. Although not required, if one spouse makes a strong case for why they should receive spousal support, the court could create a spousal maintenance support plan.
Q: How Long Does a Spouse Have to Pay Spousal Maintenance Support in Colorado?
A: According to Colorado’s maintenance legislation, an advisory spousal maintenance period of 11 months begins after 36 months of marriage and increases to half after 12.5 years. Courts consider lifelong maintenance in long-term marriages. Spousal maintenance payment plans can also end if the spouse receiving support payments remarries after the settlement of their divorce.
Addressing Questions with A Spousal Maintenance Order
Spousal maintenance is one of the most common outcomes of a divorce settlement. As situations change, getting help reevaluating and monitoring these orders is critical for ensuring financial stability for both parties involved in the order. Woody Law Firm, LLC, can help those looking to evaluate and understand their spousal maintenance order, so contact us to schedule a consultation with our team today.