ColoradoAlimony Guide - Spousal Support Laws
Colorado Alimony Guide :: Table of Contents
What is Alimony?
Alimony, also known as spousal support, is a court-ordered provision of financial support a spouse for after a divorce. Alimony laws vary considerably from state to state, and courts often have significant flexibility on a case-by-case basis in determing whether to award alimony, how much alimony to award, and how long alimony payments will continue.
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How is Alimony Granted?
The Colorado state government has declared that the economic lives of spouses often become intertwined in such a way that it is impossible to entirely separate them after divorce, and as such, has stated that an individual going through a divorce may file for temporary maintenance if they see fit, whether or not the maintenance, otherwise known as alimony, is decided in a court of law is dependent on several factors.
In cases in which the combined income of both spouses is seventy-five thousand dollars or less annually, payments shall be equal to forty percent of the higher income party’s monthly adjusted gross income and less than fifty percent of the lower income party’s monthly adjusted gross income. In any case that these calculations result in a zero or negative number, temporary income shall not be awarded; if the result is more than zero that will be the monthly allowance. All judgments are subject to change by ruling of the court. In any case that this calculation is seen as unjust, the court and ensuing judgment is allowed to deviate from the calculation; any deviations from the calculations must be filed with an explanation of findings explaining the reasons for the deviation and the amount the formula would have allotted without the deviation.
When the combined income above both parties exceeds seventy-five thousand dollars or if either spouse seeking maintenance falls under other requirements, the judge rules the amount as is just. Factors other than income include the ability of spouse seeking support, the ability of the dependent spouse to maintain his or her reasonable needs, and the property of the spouse seeking support.
Custody of any children, and any child support required between parties of the divorce, are two other factors in the amount and consideration of spousal support. If the custodian of the children is unable to support themselves due to the children being of an age or condition that it hinders the individual’s ability to support the child, such as if they must remain home to care for the child, it would severely influence the case for alimony to be received by the custodian of said child or children.
In the end, if an agreement cannot be made between the two parties, alimony is awarded at the final judgment of the judge and court deciding the case.
In the state of Colorado, a number of factors are taken into account when calculating the amount and duration of alimony or spousal support payments.
Is there a set list of statutory factors for calculating alimony?
Colorado has a defined list of factors, described in statutory law, that are legally required to be considered by a judge when determining alimony payments. These factors may be directly connected to the alimony calculation formula.
Is marital fault considered in Colorado alimony?
Colorado does not consider marital fault when determining alimony payments. This means that divorces considered "at-fault" due to cheating or infidelity, abuse, or other factors do not affect the calculation of alimony payments.
Is standard of living considered in Colorado alimony?
Standard of living is considered when calculating alimony payments in the state of Colorado. This means that a judge will consider the lifestyle enjoyed by the alimony-receiving spouse during the duration of the marriage when determining an appropriate alimony payment amount.
Is custodial status considered when determining alimony in the state of Colorado?
The judge in the state of Colorado considers custodial status when determining alimony payments. This means that alimony calculations are affected by whether or not the receiving spouse has custody of the children, and custodial spouses may receive higher alimony payments.
How exactly is alimony calculated in the state of Colorado?
Calculation of alimony is generally done on a case-by-case basis by the Colorado family court judge who is responsible for the case. While some states have a fixed alimony calculation formula, in most cases the final amount and duration of alimony awarded (if alimony is awarded) is at the discretion of the judge.
- How long must alimony be paid?
- The duration of payments is determined by a judge in Colorado family court. Alimony length is usually based on length of marriage - one commonly used standard for alimony duration is that 1 year of alimony is paid every three years of marriage (however, this is not always the case in every state or with every judge). Alimony may also be discontinued upon the remarriage or cohabitation of the receiving spouse. In some cases, judges may even award permanent alimony.
- What happens if alimony isn't paid?
- If alimony is unpaid, the owed debt is known as alimony arrears. Arrears can be collected via mediation, small claims court, or wage garnishment. Failure to comply with a court-issued spousal support order may also result in a contempt of court charge against the spouse who failed to pay owed alimony.
- Can alimony be waived by a prenuptual agreement?
- A prenup agreement is a contract between spouses regarding marriage-related financial matters signed prior to marriage. Limitation or waiving rights to alimony is a frequent clause in modern prenuptual agreements, but some states or localities prohibit such alimony waivers.
- Can alimony be collected if you're not married?
- The legal concept of alimony, otherwise known as spousal support, is dependant upon a legal marriage. However, in some areas - especially those with a concept of common-law marriage - "palimony", or support payments between non-married individuals, has been awarded by courts. However, this generally requires extenuating circumstances.
- What is alimony mediation?
When a marriage ends through divorce and alimony is expected to be paid, spouses have the choice to determine an alimony agreement either through litigation (in Colorado family court) or through mutual agreement. Often, a Colorado alimony mediator can be brought in to help the ex-spouses come to a mutual agreement regarding alimony and other contested issues such as property division, and thus avoid having to go to court.
- How are alimony payments taxed?
On a federal level, all qualifying Colorado alimony payments are deductible by the payor, and counted as taxable income by the recipient. To qualify as alimony under IRS guidelines, the following must be true:
- The payments are in cash
- The parties live in seperate households
- The payments are strictly for alimony (as opposed to for child support, etc)
Taxation of alimony varies on a state and local level. You can learn more about Colorado income taxes here .