Divorce often has a significant financial impact on both spouses, but it can be especially difficult for a spouse who earned less money during the marriage. Alimony, known as spousal support in Colorado, can be a vital resource to help a dependent spouse regain financial independence. With decades of experience practicing Colorado family law at Karin Johnson Chatfield LLC in Denver, I have helped countless clients obtain favorable alimony awards. Whether you are the dependent spouse or the paying spouse, I will diligently pursue a fair financial arrangement.
People who divorce in Colorado do not have an automatic right to alimony. However, a separation agreement or divorce settlement may dictate required payments. One or both spouses can also request that an alimony decision be made by the court. If one spouse needs support and the other has the ability to pay, a court may decide to grant spousal maintenance.
To obtain a fair decision, spouses must provide comprehensive, accurate evidence of their financial resources and debts. Hiding assets is illegal. A spouse who tries to keep their money or property secret in hopes of receiving a more favorable alimony order could be jailed for contempt of court, while the other spouse may be given a bigger share of marital assets.
Drawing on my thorough understanding of family law and court practices pertaining to alimony, I help clients comply with the law and demonstrate why an alimony order should or should not be issued. If one spouse is uncooperative or untrustworthy, my firm searches for undisclosed assets.
Alimony may be paid on a temporary or permanent basis. Permanent alimony is usually only an option if the marriage lasted 20 years or longer or one spouse has mental or physical constraints that limit employability. The maintenance guidelines provided by Colorado make suggestions for alimony to be paid on a temporary basis lasting several months to several years.
Colorado courts calculate an appropriate base amount and duration of alimony after considering evidence of:
When a couple’s combined gross income does not exceed $240,000 or the uppermost limits of the schedule of basic child support obligations, whichever is greater, the guidelines recommend that the lower-income spouse be awarded an amount of maintenance equivalent to 40 percent of the higher-income spouse’s adjusted gross income minus 50 percent of the lower-income spouse’s adjusted gross income.
Deviations may be made from the amount and term suggested in Colorado’s maintenance guidelines. A court is tasked with considering the totality of circumstances involved in the divorce and making an order that it fair and equitable to both parties.
The court will only issue an order for alimony if it determines that the dependent spouse does not have sufficient assets to provide for their reasonable needs and cannot become self-supporting through employment, or if the dependent spouse cannot work outside the home because of the condition or circumstances of a child in their custody.
When the recipient spouse remarries, the alimony order automatically terminates. Otherwise, an alimony order remains valid for the stated duration or until a modification is granted.
Alimony payments must be made in the amount and duration stated in the alimony order or agreement unless the court grants a modification or termination. The court will only alter the original order if a petitioner shows that there has been a substantial and continual change in circumstances that demonstrate the terms of the order have become unfair. Evidence of a promotion or loss of a job that seriously impacts one spouse’s income can be sufficient to demonstrate the need for a modification.
If your alimony arrangement has become unfair or impossible to uphold, I can help you petition for a modification that fits the facts of your case.
At the Denver, Colorado law firm of Karin Johnson Chatfield LLC, I negotiate alimony agreements and seek spousal support orders in court. To schedule a free initial consultation regarding your case in Denver County or the surrounding areas, call my office at 720-386-5511 or contact me online.