“Spousal maintenance” is Colorado law's name for alimony -- payments from one spouse to help support the other financially. It's sometimes also called spousal support. In the past, maintenance was routinely granted to wives in divorces and separations, but that's no longer the case. These days, either spouse may be ordered to pay maintenance. In many situations, divorcing parties end their marriages with no maintenance obligation at all. Maintenance is most likely to be ordered when one spouse earns much more than the other, including when one spouse has been a homemaker, full-time parent or underemployed for many years.
If you need legal advice on getting, fighting or changing a maintenance order in Colorado, Jennifer B. James, P.C., can help. I am a family-law attorney serving both women and men in the Colorado Springs area and throughout the state. I help clients seeking a temporary or permanent maintenance order or seeking to change or enforce an existing order. I also help my clients understand the effect a maintenance order has on other parts of their divorce orders and financial lives.
Colorado Spousal Maintenance Basics
Maintenance is intended to help support people, male or female, who don’t have the skills or assets to support themselves after a divorce. In most cases, it's a stopgap measure intended to give the recipient some time to acquire new skills or take care of children who still need full-time attention.
Unlike child support, long-term maintenance isn't determined by a formula in Colorado. Spouses may agree on maintenance between themselves, or they may ask a court to order it. Judges make the final call on whether and how much maintenance should be awarded, but the law tells them to take into account the following factors:
- The financial resources of the spouse asking for maintenance, including job skills and any property or child support awarded
- How long it would take the asker to get job training or education, and what the asker's likely income would be
- The standard of living the parties enjoyed during the marriage
- How long the marriage lasted
- The age and physical and emotional condition of the asker
- Whether the spouse being asked to pay could still meet his or her needs and obligations while paying maintenance
The above list specifies that judges should consider how property is divided. If one party gets the bulk of the property, he or she is unlikely to also get spousal maintenance. In addition, there are also tax consequences that need to be considered; unlike child support, maintenance is considered taxable income and a deductible expense by the IRS. That's why, as a Colorado divorce attorney, I make sure to construct my clients' property division requests very carefully when maintenance is in the picture.
Modifying a Maintenance Order
As with child support and custody, the law allows you to petition to change your maintenance order if the circumstances have changed. Examples of good grounds for change might be either party's remarriage or a delay in the recipient's schooling. I help both recipients and payers of maintenance who need to change an existing order to better reflect the circumstances of their lives. I also help enforce maintenance orders for recipients whose payments have illegally stopped.
Pike's Peak Spousal Maintenance Attorney
Maintenance is one of the most emotionally charged requests in a divorce, touching on both the parties' finances and their legal and emotional connections. Don't go into a maintenance dispute without making sure you've presented yourself in your case in the best possible light. If you're seeking spousal support or need to contest or change a support request, contact Jennifer B. James, P.C. You can reach me at (719) 473-1813 or drop by my downtown Colorado Springs offices.