What is Alimony?
Alimony – or “spousal maintenance” as it’s referred to in Colorado, is a court-ordered payment awarded to one party in a divorce or legal separation that is meant to provide financial support. As we’ve discussed before on our blog, spousal maintenance can take several distinct forms here in Colorado; there is temporary maintenance, rehabilitative, permanent, and so forth.
How is Alimony Calculated?
Judges will only award maintenance if it makes sense given the circumstances of the divorce. If the requesting spouse doesn’t actually have a need for maintenance, then it won’t be granted. The court considers the following when determining if one side is entitled to maintenance and how much to award:
- Each party’s gross income
- Marital property distributed to each party
- Each party’s financial resources
- Actual or potential income from separate or marital property
- Reasonable financial need
- Length of the marriage
- Lifestyle during marriage
The two most important factors are typically the spouses’ incomes and the length of the marriage. Colorado has specific maintenance guidelines that judges must use to determine maintenance. However, the court will also consider the additional factors and allow the judge to use discretion on a case-by-case basis.
How Long Does Alimony Last?
The length of time that spousal maintenance payments must be paid depends on the length of the marriage. There are standard guidelines for marriages of up to 20 years but beyond that, the judge will use discretion to determine the amount and duration of the payments.
In some cases, the award will be a permanent arrangement that is part of the divorce decree, and that will last until the death of the spouse receiving the maintenance. However, in most cases, maintenance is temporary for a set number of months or years.