Under Colorado case law, alimony – also known as “spousal maintenance” – was defined generally as payments necessary for food, clothing, habitation, and other necessities for the support of the former spouse. The definition has expanded and now includes payments made to a former spouse to ensure he or she can live in a similar manner to which he or she became accustomed to during the marriage. These payments are separate from any payments made for child support that are based on the nature of the child custody agreement. 

Alimony payments can become an especially contentious point during the divorce process. It is very important to have an experienced divorce lawyer working with you throughout the process to ensure that your rights are protected.

How Do You Qualify for Alimony?

To qualify for alimony payments, you and your lawyer will work together to demonstrate a financial need. The judge will assess your employability and potential earnings capabilities when making alimony qualification and amount determinations. Typically, a judge will not allow an employable former spouse to remain unemployed and still collect alimony where employment is available. However, when making alimony decisions the judge will consider how long the former spouse has been out of employment and the cost of education or further training.

How Much Alimony Can You Receive?

Colorado does not recognize a mathematical formula for calculating alimony payments. Instead, judges will consider several factors when making alimony determinations. These factors include:

  • The length of the marriage (generally the longer the marriage, the longer the alimony payment requirements);
  • The debts (including bankruptcy issues) and assets of the marriage and of the divorcing spouses as individuals;
  • The ability of the spouse receiving alimony to secure employment; and
  • The lifestyle to which the receiving spouse had become accustomed.

There is no statutory limit on the amount of alimony that can be required to be paid or the period for which the payments are to be made. However, alimony payment schedules can be challenged and a superior court in Colorado will restructure a lower court’s alimony schedule where it is deemed to be unconscionable or where the lower court abused its authority.

How Long Does Alimony Last?

Colorado does not statutorily limit the length alimony payments can last. However, where a marriage is short in duration the alimony payment period will also likely be short. Conversely, a judge will likely award a longer alimony period for those leaving a marriage that lasted for a longer amount of time.

How Do You Petition for Alimony?

The process for petitioning for alimony can be lengthy and complex, especially where there are significant debts or assets connected to the marriage or the spouses as individuals. The process is started by filing for divorce and serving notice of the filing on the other spouse (known as service of process). The divorce will become either contested or non-contested (both parties agree to terms of divorce). If the divorce is contested, then a judge will hear the matter and at that time will make determinations regarding alimony.

Where Can You Find the Right Lawyer?

Discuss your divorce with an experienced local Colorado family lawyer today. Your lawyer will be able to help you through the entire legal process and work to ensure your rights are protected.