If you are entitled to spousal support (also called maintenance or alimony) or will you have to pay your spouse maintenance is a complicated question to answer. It depends on the facts and circumstances of your specific case. Before a court would award any spousal support or maintenance, the court will divide the martial assets and debts. This must be completed prior to a maintenance award because the division of marital assets and assumption of marital debt will effect a spousal support award.
What is the purpose of maintenance or alimony?
Most judges and Colorado law states that when you are married, the economic lives of married couples are closely tied. It could be difficult, if not impossible to determine or separate the respective decisions and contributions of each person in the marriage. Therefore, maintenance has been found to be a tool to equal footing after a divorce.
Maintenance/alimony is not proper in all cases. Generally, a marriages of less than 3 years a spouse is not entitled to spousal support or maintenance. Maintenance may be appropriate if one spouse needs the support and the other has the ability to pay the support. The amount or award of maintenance shall be in an amount and for the time that is fair and equitable to both, without regard to marital misconduct.
First, if one party acts for maintenance/alimony, the court must make certain findings in writing. These include:
- The amount of each party’s gross income;
- The martial property apportioned to each party;
- Financial resources of each party
- Reasonable financial need as established during the marriage
After determining the issues above, the Court then will only make one party pay maintenance to the other if the court finds that the spouse seeking maintenance lacks sufficient property (including martial property given to him/her) to provide for his or her reasonable needs and is unable to support himself or herself through appropriate employment or is the custodian of a child whose condition or circumstances make it inappropriate for the spouse to be required to seek employment outside of the home.
This means, that to be entitled to maintenance/alimony, the court must find that the person asking for maintenance must not have property to support himself/herself and is unable to work because of a condition that prevents working and/or has a child that requires special care. Very simply put, if one spouse does not work during the marriage and is not awarded enough marital assets to support him/her, then a maintenance award will be likely. If both spouses work and support the household at a fairly even amount and the marital assets are awarded evenly, there would most likely not be a spousal support award.
In order to determine if you may owe/receive a maintenance award is very fact specific, as you can see. It is best to discuss all of the factors above with a competent family law attorney. Be sure to explain all information that could impact the court decision in either way.
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