Will I Have to Pay Alimony in My Divorce?

In a previous generation, it used to be that men almost always paid some kind of financial support to their ex-wives after divorce. Now, things are different. It's more realistic to think that a woman would eventually be able to support herself financially after her marriage ends.

Still, many people do need financial assistance. If divorce is in your future, you may be wondering: "will I have to pay alimony?"

Who has to pay alimony?

In Colorado, the technical term for alimony is "spousal maintenance." The law is gender-neutral, and both men and women can be ordered to pay maintenance. The relevant question is whether the lower-earning spouse is able to support themselves and provide for their own needs.

Does alimony last forever?

No. More often than not, alimony is awarded for a limited period of time. Sometimes it ends when the divorce is finalized, and in other cases will last longer. The goal is to give the lower-earning spouse a chance to get education, if necessary, and get back into the job market. Lifetime support is only awarded when someone is truly unable to support themselves, often because of old age or illness.

How are maintenance amounts decided?

When a couple's combined gross income is over $75,000, Colorado courts look at a variety of factors to determine whether maintenance is needed and, if so, how much should be paid. The goal is to reach an outcome that is fair for both parties.

Here are some of the factors that a court will consider:

  • What financial resources the lower-earning spouse has access to
  • What property and assets the lower-earning spouse is getting in the divorce settlement
  • The lower-earning spouse's ability to get a good-paying job, including whether they need any education or training
  • How the couple lived during the marriage
  • How long the marriage was
  • Whether the higher-earning spouse can afford to support the other person
  • Whether the higher-earning spouse is also paying child support

Fault is not an issue when it comes to alimony. A person can get maintenance even if they were responsible for the marriage ending.

These factors will be applied differently in every divorce. If you have questions about Colorado's alimony laws, make sure to discuss them with your lawyer.