Getting divorced can understandably be an overwhelming experience from an emotional standpoint. However, it can also be financially stressful, especially if you earn less than your spouse does.

Fortunately, you may be able to receive spousal maintenance, otherwise known as alimony or spousal support, during the divorce process and for a period of months or years after the divorce. You and your spouse can reach an agreement on maintenance or a judge in Colorado will make a spousal support determination for you.

What is alimony?

Alimony refers to monetary payments that a higher-earning spouse makes to a lower-earning spouse following a divorce. It exists to reduce the disparate economic effects of separation after marriage and co-dependence via providing the lower-earning spouse with continuing income following the divorce. Frequently in marriage, one spouse works while the other manages the home front,  and gives up the the opportunity to begin a career and earn a higher income for the good of the marriage.

How much will you receive?

With child support, state guidelines dictate how much one parent will have to pay to another parent. While there are guidelines for spousal support as well, judges have much more leeway to deviate from the maintenance guidelines and must make a number of findings before awarding spousal support after a marriage is over.  Courts have plenty of flexibility when it comes to determining if you should receive alimony, how long you should get it and how much you should receive, and this is frequently an area where unrepresented divorce litigants simply lack the knowledge and ability to adequately plead their case to the court necessary to achieve their desired outcome.

The court will typically take into consideration a variety of factors when making a decision about alimony, including but not limited to the following:

  • Whether your ex can support you while still supporting himself or herself
  • How long you were married
  • Your standard of living during your marriage

The judge will also consider your and your future ex’s financial, emotional and physical conditions, as well as your ages when arriving at a spousal support decision.

How long can you expect alimony?

For example, you can sometimes receive alimony / spousal maintenance for as long as you need it to complete a training program or other course of study and become self-sufficient financially, provided you make the correct arguments and present the correct evidence to the judge. If there is no alimony termination date in your divorce decree, the paying party can expect to keep making payments until a judge orders otherwise. Generally, maintenance ends upon remarriage of the recipient spouse, but this is not always the case depending on the language of the separation agreement.

Reaching an agreement on alimony

The ideal situation when dealing with alimony in divorce is for you and your spouse to be able to reach your own agreement on it. This will allow you to feel more in control of the outcome versus relying on a judge to tell you how spousal support will be handled. In addition, when a mutually satisfactory agreement is in place, the paying spouse is more likely to keep up with the maintenance payments, which will benefit you in the end.