Spousal Support Lawyers in Colorado Springs
Spousal Support Lawyers in Colorado Springs
Starting a new life can be tough
The end of a marriage is the start of a new life for both spouses. Often, however, one spouse will need additional economic resources to begin that next chapter. Perhaps the husband or wife had left the workforce to help raise a family, or made other sacrifices that have left them without the ability to support themselves. In such cases, Colorado law provides for the awarding of spousal support in the final divorce decree. Hiring spousal support lawyers in Colorado Springs can help you understand this process.
When is Spousal Support Awarded in Colorado?
Spousal support, also called alimony, is typically awarded to the spouse who earns less income in order to make the separation fair and equitable and give each party an equal shot of moving forward with success. Given these underlying reasons behind spousal support, awards are usually temporary, terminating after a given amount of time unless circumstances dramatically change.
How long spousal support will be awarded and the amount alimony will be every month depends on a number of factors established by Colorado law.
Colorado dramatically changed the laws regarding spousal support in 2014. The new law established guidelines for calculating the amount and duration of spousal support awards. Prior to the change in the law, alimony awards were often criticized for being inconsistent and unpredictable, with similarly situated couples often being subject to wildly different arrangements. The new law, which applies to all couples whose combined income is less than or equal to $240,000, is designed to address those inconsistencies by providing clear guidance and formulas for judges to use in calculating spousal support awards.
The reality, however, is that judges retain broad discretion to disregard the guidelines as to the amount and duration of spousal support as long as they first calculate what the award would be using the guidelines and then issue a spousal support order that is “fair and equitable to both parties based upon the totality of the circumstances.”
Factors Considered in Awarding Spousal Support in Colorado
When deciding whether to award spousal support in a Colorado divorce, a judge will consider all of the following factors:
- Financial resources of the spouse who is seeking alimony, including an award of marital property or child support and their ability to meet their needs independently;
- Financial resources of the spouse from whom alimony is sought including his or her ability to meet his or her reasonable needs while paying spousal support;
- Future earning capacity of the spouse seeking spousal support, and any time necessary for education and training;
- Lifestyle during the marriage;
- Distribution of marital property in the divorce proceedings;
- Duration of the marriage; and
- Physical and emotional condition and age of the spouse seeking spousal support.
Spousal support will be awarded only if the judge, after considering the foregoing factors, finds that the spouse seeking alimony lacks sufficient property to provide for reasonable needs and is unable to support themself through appropriate employment. They may also consider who has to take care of a child whose condition or circumstances make it inappropriate to work outside the home.
How Long is Spousal Support Paid in Colorado?
According to Colorado Legal Group, the biggest factor in determining how long spousal support will last is the length of the marriage. While there are no alimony guidelines for marriages that last less than three years, the duration of spousal support will be calculated based on a percentage of the length of the marriage. A percentage of that amount increases the longer a marriage lasts.
For example, the recommended duration of permanent spousal support after a 5-year marriage is 21 months (35%). The recommended alimony term after 10 years of marriage is five and one-half years (45%). The recommended term of spousal support is 50% of the length of the marriage for marriages that lasted 12 ½ years or more.
How is the Amount of Spousal Support Calculated?
The guidelines set forth various calculations for the determination of monthly spousal support amounts. Typically, alimony will be 40% of the top earner’s adjusted gross monthly income minus 50% of other spouse’s adjusted gross monthly income. As noted, however, the guidelines are just that – guidelines – and how much will actually be awarded by a judge depends on the specific circumstances.
Other factors involved in determining the amount and duration of spousal support in Colorado include whether there was a valid prenuptial agreement. They may also consider what arrangements the parties agree upon during the divorce proceedings. Additionally, down the road, either party can ask the court to modify a spousal support award if circumstances have significantly changed.
The benefits of receiving a spousal support award and the financial burdens of paying one can have an enormous impact on the lives of both spouses long after a marriage has ended. If you are going through a divorce in Colorado, how spousal support will impact your life will depend upon whether you have retained a spousal support layer in Colorado Springs. Hire an attorney who has a full understanding of the law as well as the skill and experience to ensure that your rights and well-being are fully protected.
Contact us to schedule a free consultation with a spousal support lawyer in Colorado Springs today.