Colorado law has been changing and many misconceptions and questions surround what spousal maintenance is and when it is awarded. Spousal maintenance is separate from child support. Its main goal is to help each spouse try to maintain a similar standard of living to that they had during the marriage, after divorce.
Here are 7 of the most common myths about Spousal Maintenance:
1. Women are always awarded Spousal Maintenance in a divorce: False
There are cases where women do not receive spousal maintenance in a divorce. Spousal maintenance is awarded based on the level of education of the spouse requesting spousal maintenance, their realistic ability to work, and their reasonable and necessary needs. The court can also look at how long they have been out of the workforce while being the primary stay-at-home caregiver for children and/or if the spouse has stayed at home supporting a family business. It also factors in if one spouse supported the other spouse (financially or by providing care for the children) while they obtained their education and the income of the working spouse. Spousal maintenance is not likely to be awarded if the marriage didn’t last very long or if the stay-at-home parent has a good education and can realistically work.
2. Only women can receive spousal maintenance: False
Technically, either gender could be awarded spousal maintenance. Men more rarely receive spousal maintenance because they historically have had a greater capacity to earn more money. But if the man was the stay-at-home caregiver during the marriage and the woman was the breadwinner, spousal maintenance could be awarded to the man.
3. Unlike child support, spousal maintenance is not calculated using gross income: False
Spousal maintenance is calculated from gross income, and not all income needs to be included in determining spousal maintenance. Only up to 40 hours per work per week should be factored into spousal maintenance. Overtime can be factored into spousal maintenance only if the overtime was required by the employer as a condition of employment.
4. Fault in divorce is a determining factor for whether or not spousal maintenance is awarded: False
Actually, Colorado is a no-fault state and fault will not be a factor under consideration for how much or if spousal maintenance is ordered.
5. When spousal maintenance is awarded; it is usually on a permanent basis: False
The length of spousal maintenance is different in each case; however, Colorado law considers all relevant factors including length of marriage and resources of the recipient spouse. The term of spousal maintenance is further determined by a guideline table established by Statute and, in marriages of twenty or more years duration, is up to the discretion of the court. If the spouse receiving spousal maintenance remarries, spousal maintenance obligations end.
6. Spousal maintenance is tax deductible: False
Under recent tax law changes, if you are the payee of spousal maintenance, it is not tax deductible for you. If you are the receiver of spousal maintenance, you do not declare the spousal maintenance as income.
7. I would rather pay a property settlement rather than spousal maintenance: False
Giving a spouse more money in a property settlement rather than paying spousal maintenance monthly for a set number of months is not necessarily the best. The saying “money is valued more now than later” rings true. You should discuss with a qualified family attorney about what is the best situation for you.
Spousal maintenance is very subjective and hard to figure out on your own. Especially with the laws changing, you need to consult with a competent family law attorney that can help you come to a fair and reasonable resolution. At Clawson & Clawson LLP, we understand and utilize the elements of spousal maintenance and the laws of Colorado to help you achieve the best settlement and/or result possible. At Clawson & Clawson we are ready and available to help you through your divorce action.