Spousal maintenance is a court-ordered payment that one spouse gives to another to help maintain that person’s lifestyle. The spouse who receives the maintenance support is known as a ‘dependent’ spouse, and a judge determines the amount that person should received based on a number of different factors.
Spousal maintenance is an issue that can cause a lot conflict and debate on both sides. Some of the people who have to pay a former spouse argue that the person doesn’t deserve the money, or that the court-ordered payment is too high. And some dependent spouses argue that everything they contributed to a marriage has earned them the payments they receive.
Types of Spousal Maintenance In Colorado
In Colorado as in many other states, there are five common types of spousal maintenance, including:
- Temporary Maintenance – Judges order a spouse to pay this type of maintenance to help the other spouse meet financial obligations until the divorce is finalized. This is usually to help a spouse pay a mortgage payment or a child’s school fees, and will end once the divorce is entered into record with the court.
- Rehabilitative Maintenance – If a spouse needs additional time after a divorce to obtain employment skills necessary to support his or her lifestyle, then a judge will grant rehabilitative maintenance, which provides a financial bridge between the end of the divorce, and a specified time in the future. The length of time that a spouse pays rehabilitative maintenance varies depending on each person’s unique circumstances.
- Reimbursement Maintenance – If a judge determines that one spouse paid for the other spouse’s college education or job training during a marriage, then the judge can order reimbursement maintenance in which the spouse who received the help pays back those expenses. The repayment can be made for the full expenses, or only a portion of those expenses, and is based on the judge’s discretion.
- Permanent Maintenance – This refers to spousal maintenance that will continue for an undefined period of time. However, if the receiving spouse remarries, dies or gains enough income to maintain a reasonable standard of living, the payments can end. Judges are far more likely to order permanent maintenance in marriages that lasted 20 years or more.
- Lump Sump Maintenance – In divorces in which a spouse doesn’t petition for assets or property, a judge can grant a lump sum maintenance, which allows the dependent spouse to receive a one-time payment that settles everything. This means the spouse that pays will not have to make any other payments, and the spouse receiving gets everything up front, so there is no chance of that payment being reduced in the future.
What Are Some Factors That Determine the Amount of Spousal Maintenance?
Judges will consider several factors when deciding how much to award in spousal maintenance, including:
- Financial resources of the person who wants maintenance, including existing income, debts, and the needs of any children involved if that spouse has primary parental responsibility.
- Standard of living person who wants maintenance enjoyed during the marriage
- Length of the marriage
- Physical and emotional state of person who seeks maintenance
- The length of time it will take the spouse seeking maintenance to become self-sufficient
Because there is such a wide discretion given to judges when it comes to determining the amount of spousal maintenance, it is critical that you hire an experienced divorce attorney to help you. Whether you are seeking to become a dependent spouse, or you are the person who will be ordered to make payments, Kinnaird & Kinnaird, P.C. can help you find a fair solution. Please contact us today for a consultation.