Few things can complicate a divorce like an infidelity. Even when there are no unusual or exacerbating circumstances, divorces usually tend to be a bit unpleasant. When you throw in adultery, things can quickly escalate. However, just because adultery can trigger heated emotions, the divorce procedure in Colorado will usually not be affected. Many people wonder: if adultery occurs, will this have any impact on spousal maintenance? Let’s dive into this in detail.
Colorado is a “No Fault” State
Before we address the issue of adultery and spousal maintenance, we should first point out that Colorado is a “no fault” state when it comes to divorce. This means that a spouse doesn’t have to cite specific “grounds” when dissolving the marriage. The only grounds for dissolution of marriage in Colorado is that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Other states, which require fault, impose a demand that spouses cite adequate grounds on which to base the divorce. Adequate grounds can be domestic violence, abandonment or desertion, alcoholism, adultery, and so forth.
Factors Which Determine Spousal Maintenance Eligibility
When a spouse requests spousal maintenance (also called “alimony” in other jurisdictions), there are two analyses which are conducted. One analysis is necessary to determine whether maintenance should be awarded at all (i.e. eligibility), and another analysis is necessary to determine the amount and duration of an award. Importantly, each spouse has the opportunity to request maintenance, not just the female partner; laypeople often assume that only women are eligible for maintenance, but this is not the case.
When analyzing for eligibility, judges in Colorado look at the following factors:
- How the marital property was divided during the divorce itself
- The financial needs of the requesting spouse
- The financial capabilities of the paying spouse (i.e. property and income, income potential, etc.)
- The current income of each spouse
Laypeople also often assume that spousal maintenance is simply granted as a matter of course. As we can see, this isn’t the case in Colorado. 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.
Factors Which Determine Spousal Maintenance Amounts & Duration
After a judge settles the issue of maintenance eligibility, the next issue is determining the amount and duration. As with the eligibility analysis, the amount and duration analysis will take account of multiple factors. Here are factors which are known to hold weight in the analysis:
- The total length of the marriage
- The lifestyle of the couple during the marriage
- The education and earning potential of each spouse at the time of divorce
- The current financial condition of each spouse at the time of divorce
- Monetary contributions to the marriage by each spouse
- The age and health of each spouse
The court will also consider anything else deemed significant. Is adultery considered a factor? The answer is no, although this comes with an important addendum. Judges will not take account adultery in either the eligibility analysis or the amount and duration analysis, except in one specific situation. Judges may take account of adultery only when the adulterous affair has had a definite financial impact on the marriage itself. If, for instance, the adulterous spouse spent considerable sums of marital funds on the affair, then the court may use this spending in the analysis. But, the key point is that the significance is restricted to the financial impact of the affair; the court isn’t simply “punishing” the adulterous spouse because of the moral aspect of the affair.