For How Long Do I Have to Pay Spousal Support?

Bloch & Chapleau Feb 22nd, 2018 Family Law

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If you are in the process of getting divorced in Colorado and the issue of spousal maintenance has come up—or is likely to come up—you likely have questions about the amount and duration of the spousal maintenance award. In particular, if you are the higher earning spouse and have been married for at least three years, you will need to familiarize yourself with Colorado law (Colo. Rev. Stat. Section 14-10-114) on spousal maintenance awards. The statute contains guidelines for determining the duration of a marriage that lasts for anywhere from three to 20 years.

So, how long will you have to make spousal support payments after a Colorado divorce? The answer to that question depends upon the length of your marriage, and as such it varies from case to case. We will give you some examples below. Keep in mind, however, that the first step is always a determination of whether spousal maintenance is even appropriate in the given circumstances.

What If I Was Married for Under Three Years?

For couples who were married less than three years, the statutory guidelines are not applicable. In order for the statutory guidelines to apply, the couple must have been married for at least 36 months. This does not mean, however, that the court will not award spousal maintenance. Instead, the court will look to a number of different factors to determine what kind of spousal maintenance award—both amount and duration—would be equitable for a short-term marriage.

Each case is different, and it is important to discuss your situation with a Colorado family lawyer.

Marriages Lasting Between Three and Twenty Years

For marriages lasting between three and 20 years, the court looks to guidelines to determine the duration. This means that, unless there is a clear reason for the court to deviate from the guidelines, the duration of a spousal maintenance award will be the same for couples who have been married for the same amount of time.

For example, for a marriage lasting 36 months (or 3 years) in which spousal maintenance is appropriate, the duration of the maintenance award is 11 months (or just under a year). For a marriage lasting 84 months (or 7 years) the duration of the maintenance award is 33 months (or almost 3 years). For a marriage lasting 216 months (or 18 years), the duration of the award is 108 months (or 9 years).

What Happens When a Marriage Lasts Longer Than 20 Years?

For marriages that last longer than 20 years, the court can do one of three things: it can specify the duration that is the same for a 20-year marriage (which is 120 months, or 10 years), it can go above that duration (a specified duration of maintenance that is not indefinite but is more than 10 years), or it can award indefinite spousal maintenance. The statute specifies that the court can only go below the duration of the 20-year marriage if it makes specific findings supporting that “reduced term of maintenance.”

A Colorado Divorce Lawyer Can Help

Do you have questions about spousal maintenance duration? A Colorado divorce attorney can help with your case. Contact Bloch & Chapleau.