Divorce is a highly stressful emotional process and can cause significant financial upheaval. People undergoing divorce in Colorado are often unprepared for the economic impact of property division, alimony, and child support. Getting the correct information can help you create a financial plan to navigate life during and after your divorce.
Golden, Colorado alimony lawyer Marie Drake knows the importance of having accurate alimony information. In this blog, she debunks three common myths about alimony, or “spousal maintenance,” as it is called in Colorado.
Myth 1: The Wife Always Gets Maintenance
Contrary to common belief, the wife will not always get maintenance in a Colorado divorce. Gender no longer determines which spouse gets alimony. A family law court will award spousal maintenance based on which spouse has a higher earning capacity depending upon:
- Level of education
- Number of years in the workforce
- Current line of work and annual income
- Age and health
However, in a typical family model, it is still the wife rather than the husband who sacrifices her career to care for the children and household. Women are likelier to stay at home and earn significantly less throughout the marriage. That is why in many instances, the wife is the one who gets maintenance.
Myth 2: Fault Is a Factor in Spousal Maintenance
Many people mistakenly believe that a court’s decision to award maintenance depends on each spouse’s conduct. Colorado is a no-fault divorce state, and the judge does not care who had the more significant share of the blame for actions that may have led to the divorce, like adultery.
The one exception to the no-fault rule is proven domestic violence. A spouse with a domestic violence record may be unable to collect alimony even if other criteria make them eligible for maintenance. A judge may also consider how family violence has impacted the abused spouse’s earning capacity—for example, if an abusive husband inflicted permanent physical damage on his wife or used intimidation to make her quit working.
Myth 3: Spousal Maintenance Is Permanent
While a Colorado family court may order permanent alimony for marriages over 20 years, most types of spousal maintenance in Colorado have a time limit. Typically, the lower earner will receive financial support from the higher earner for several months to a few years, depending on the length of the marriage.
Many factors may influence a judge’s decision regarding the duration of spousal maintenance. The chief of these is the higher-earning spouse’s ability to pay long-term maintenance while meeting their own reasonable needs. For example, an ex-spouse may be able to pay maintenance now but not in five years when they retire.
How Colorado Courts Calculate Spousal Maintenance
Spousal maintenance calculations are complex and often changeable. The amount of spousal maintenance due is calculated using a mathematical formula contained in the 2014 statute C.R.S. 14-10-114. It was created to make alimony more straightforward, consistent, and less contentious.
On the other hand, judges need only consider this formula. It is not required. Colorado family law courts usually try to reach an equitable award based on the following formula: 40% of the adjusted gross income of the higher-earning spouse minus 50% of the adjusted gross income of the lower-earning spouse.
For example, if the higher earner makes $15,000 a month and the lower earner makes $3,000, the alimony payments would equal 0.4 X 15,000 – 0.5 X 3,000 = $4,500.
However, many factors may cause a court to deviate from the abovementioned formula. These include:
- Whether either spouse receives or pays spousal or child support following a previous marriage
- The financial resources of both spouses, including current income and employability
- The couple’s standard of living throughout the marriage
- Asset distribution during divorce
- The duration of the marriage
- How much either spouse contributed to the couple’s total economic advancement—e.g., a spouse may have provided childcare or performed significant work in the family business without being a recognized employee
How to Keep Financial Stability During and After Divorce
In almost all divorce cases, we strongly recommend mediation to achieve a mutually acceptable agreement that covers all money matters, including property division, alimony, and child support. Litigated divorces are typically more prolonged, messier, and much more expensive.
Working together through mediation rather than going to trial can save you a lot of money. It can also help you preserve an amicable relationship with your ex-spouse, which is vital for successful co-parenting.
When emotions run high, working out a reasonable settlement is challenging. At the Drake Law Firm, our alimony lawyer can guide you through the mediation process and help you and your spouse work out a suitable agreement.
The Drake Law Firm: Divorce Attorneys in Golden and Colorado
If you’re searching online for a “lawyer for divorce near me,” you’re likely facing stress and financial uncertainty. Working with our experienced divorce and alimony attorneys can help you achieve financial security during and after your divorce.
At The Drake Law Firm, our team brings two decades of experience in Colorado family law. We’ll help you navigate all financial aspects of divorce, including spousal maintenance, child custody and support, and asset division.
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The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.