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What factors will Colorado courts consider when awarding alimony?

Married spouses in Colorado do not always have the same financial resources. For example, one spouse may earn significantly more than the other, or one spouse may have exited the workforce altogether to take care of the family. While these arrangements can work when the couple is married, if the couple divorces this inequity in financial resources can become a problem.

For that reason, the spouse with fewer financial resources may seek spousal support (known as spousal maintenance in Colorado). The state of Colorado has statutory guidelines regarding how much to award in spousal maintenance for those whose marriages lasted between three to 20 years. However, in addition to these guidelines are certain factors the court may consider when issuing an order for spousal maintenance.

For example, the court will consider the receiving spouse's financial resources and that spouse's ability to independently meet his or her needs. The court will also consider the paying spouse's financial resources and that spouse's ability to meet his or her reasonable needs in addition to paying spousal maintenance. Each spouse's income, employment and employability may be considered.

The couple's lifestyle while married may be considered, as will how long the marriage lasted. The distribution of property between the spouses during the property division process may be considered. Each spouse's age and health may be considered. If a spouse significantly contributed to the marriage in an economic or noneconomic way, or significantly contributed to the occupational advancement of the other spouse, this may be considered.

This list is not all-exhaustive. However, after considering these factors, the court may award maintenance if it finds that the receiving spouse does not have sufficient assets to meet his or her reasonable needs and cannot be financially independent despite having a job.

The issue of spousal maintenance can be contentious. The receiving spouse may feel they are owed support and cannot make ends meet without it. Colorado law recognizes that it is appropriate to award spousal maintenance if the receiving spouse needs it and the paying spouse is able to afford it. The court does not want to impoverish either party, so it will seek to ensure that any spousal maintenance decisions are fair to both spouses.

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