One of the primary concerns in any divorce is often spousal support. Questions about the amount to be paid or received can weigh heavily on those going through a divorce, as the uncertainty surrounding finances can cause immense personal distress. In some cases, the fear of financial instability even leads people to remain unhappy or unhealthy marriages.
If you anticipate being ordered to pay spousal support and wish to avoid it, you may wonder, “How can I prevent making these payments?”
To avoid spousal maintenance, you must demonstrate to the court that your former spouse does not require it. It is important to note that spousal maintenance is not obligatory in Colorado. If you can establish that your spouse can financially support themselves after the divorce, you may not be required to make spousal support payments. The court will consider various factors, such as income disparity and duration of payments, when determining the necessity of spousal support. It is crucial to remember that each situation is unique, and the most effective strategies and tips for avoiding spousal support will vary depending on the specifics of your case and the stage of the process you are currently in.
What Is Spousal Support?
Spousal support, also referred to as spousal maintenance in Colorado, involves one spouse making payments to the other to assist in maintaining their standard of living following a divorce. Typically, this arrangement is caused when there is a significant income disparity between spouses or when one spouse has dedicated a substantial period to managing the household and caring for the children.
The purpose of spousal support is: to uphold the lower-earning or unemployed spouse’s current lifestyle and to facilitate their journey toward self-sufficiency. The ultimate aim is for the lower-earning spouse to no longer require spousal support, having achieved financial independence or discovered an alternative arrangement that fulfills their needs without necessitating further alimony payments.
Types of Spousal Support in Colorado
In Colorado, there are two types of spousal support: temporary and permanent. The court can order temporary spousal support during the pending divorce proceedings. Its purpose is to assist the lower-earning spouse in maintaining their current standard of living until the divorce is finalized. Following the finalization of the divorce, the court may order additional temporary support for a specified duration or permanent spousal support.
As the name suggests, permanent spousal support entails ongoing payments from one spouse to the other. Typically, this support continues until the lower-earning spouse passes away, remarries, or fulfills other specified terminating conditions the court sets. It is generally granted when one spouse cannot achieve financial independence after the divorce.
Consult with a spousal support attorney to establish a reasonable termination date based on your circumstances. When obligated to pay alimony, your attorney will consult you about establishing a reasonable termination. By incorporating a provision with a termination date for the alimony payments within the divorce decree, you may be able to avoid the need for future court interventions.
How is Alimony Calculated?
In most cases, spousal support payments are determined by equating forty percent of the higher-earning spouse’s monthly adjusted gross income. Subsequently, fifty percent of the monthly adjusted gross income of the lower-earning spouse is subtracted. For instance, if the higher-earning spouse receives $6,000 per month while the lower-earning spouse receives only $1,000, the alimony payments would amount to $1,900 monthly.
Exceptions Where Alimony is Not Applicable
- Couples with an income exceeding $240,000 are exempt from the same alimony payment rules.
- If the marriage lasts less than three years, alimony is not typically required. Conversely, marriages over twenty years generally entail permanent alimony payments, which persist until either spouse remarries or dies.
How Is Spousal Support Determined in Colorado?
When determining the duration and amount of spousal support payments in Colorado, the court takes into account various factors, including:
- Duration of the marriage
- Standard of living established during the marriage
- The earning capacity of each spouse
- Age and health of each spouse
- Contributions of each spouse to the marriage
- Prior agreements regarding spousal support, such as a prenuptial contract
- Financial resources of the spouses seeking support and their potential to become self-sufficient over time
Additional circumstances may also influence the requirement and amount of spousal support.
There is no guaranteed way to avoid paying spousal support.
While no one desires to pay alimony, there are instances where it becomes unavoidable. Nevertheless, there are specific circumstances in Colorado where you may be able to avoid alimony payments. Let’s explore these situations to determine if you meet the criteria. Additionally, consider employing the following strategies and tips to reduce the amount you are obligated to pay or avoid a court order altogether.
- Private negotiation: If you and your spouse can reach a mutual agreement regarding spousal support and document it, the court is more likely to honor the agreement. This is especially true if the agreement is fair and considers both spouses’ incomes and capabilities.
- Prenuptial agreement: A prenuptial agreement before marriage can safeguard your assets in case of divorce, including specific provisions for spousal support. The court will honor the prenuptial agreement during divorce proceedings. To proactively avoid alimony payments, it is advisable to plan ahead. Prior to tying the knot, consider a prenuptial agreement that prevents the need for spousal support in the event of a divorce.
- Postnuptial Agreement: If you are already married and can no longer get a prenuptial agreement, you might determine that the postnuptial agreement still fits. A postnuptial can be used to create brand-new terms in the event of a divorce or alter the original postnuptial agreement.
- Request a modification when your Ex-spouse Is Remarried: Colorado alimony, also known as “maintenance,” is spousal support paid by one former spouse to the other as per court orders. The amount and duration of alimony are specified in the orders. Alimony generally ends upon the death of either party or the recipient’s remarriage, as stated in the Colorado Revised Statutes. Legal action may be required to stop payment and collection in certain cases. If the paying spouse is garnished, promptly file a motion to terminate maintenance and income withholding. If the payor spouse makes direct payments, they can stop without involving the court, but reimbursement may be sought if the recipient remarries without informing the paying spouse. To avoid ongoing payment obligations, it’s crucial to include language on support termination upon remarriage in contractual and non-modifiable alimony agreements.
- Request A Vocational Evaluation From The Judge: After the divorce, some spouses prefer to stay home and raise the children, even if this causes financial hardship and isn’t necessary. If your ex-spouse is educated and could obtain a job, you could ask for a vocational evaluation. This objective assessment provides you with insight as to what your spouse could earn. Even if they can’t find a job right away, the alimony might be ordered for a shorter time.
- Provide Evidence That Your Ex-Spouse Does Not Need Alimony: There are times when the ex-spouse doesn’t need the alimony payments. In these cases, it might be best to employ a forensic accountant to locate your spouse’s assets. While you have to put money up-front for these services, it could save you much more down the road.
While these strategies and tips can assist you in navigating spousal support matters, it’s always advisable to seek guidance from a professional attorney. Consider retaining a family law attorney to stand by your side, whether you are advocating for or against spousal support. They will guide you through the court proceedings to ensure equitable and reasonable outcomes concerning spousal maintenance.
Q: Is spousal support mandatory in Colorado?
A: No, spousal support is not obligatory in Colorado. If both spouses can independently support themselves after the divorce, the court will unlikely order spousal support.
Q: How can I avoid spousal support?
A: Several strategies may help you avoid paying spousal support. These include negotiating an agreement with your spouse before going to court, securing a prenuptial agreement before the marriage, providing evidence that your ex-spouse is cohabitating with someone else, or demonstrating a significant change in their financial situation that no longer necessitates support from you.
Q: Who is eligible for spousal support in Colorado?
A: Generally, an ex-spouse lacking income or a lower earning capacity than the other spouse qualifies for spousal support. The court also considers the standard of living established during the marriage and the age and health of each spouse.
Q: Can a spouse waive spousal support?
A: Yes, a spouse can waive spousal support in Colorado. This is typically accomplished through a prenuptial agreement or a divorce settlement agreement.
Contact Our Legal Team for Spousal Support Help
If you are facing a divorce and wondering how to protect your assets, please contact Petrelli Previtera today. We are an award-winning law firm with an established reputation, supporting clients with family law issues. We can help you through every step of the process. We understand that divorce is a difficult journey, and we will do everything possible to make it as smooth and stress-free as possible.
We look forward to hearing from you soon.