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Do you need to ask for spousal maintenance when you file divorce?

| Dec 22, 2020 | Divorce |

There are many unknown factors when you start thinking about divorce. Will you or your ex stay in the home you shared? Will you be able to support yourself if you have stayed home for part of your marriage?

Fear of the unknown and lack of legal understanding can inspire people to stay in miserable marriages for purely financial or practical reasons. However, Colorado law aims to make the process accessible to everyone, including those who are not currently financially independent from their spouse.

Spousal maintenance, also called alimony, can be a powerful tool to help you adjust to life after marriage. Will you need to specifically ask for it when you file for divorce?

The Colorado courts do not automatically grant spousal maintenance

Unlike child support, which the courts automatically order in divorces with minor children, spousal maintenance is something the spouses need to ask for during the divorce. Many people request maintenance when they file their initial paperwork, although it may be possible to amend a previous filing or respond to a spouse’s filing to request support.

If you don’t make a request for spousal maintenance, the court usually won’t order it unless there are extenuating circumstances or marital agreement on record.

How do you know if you qualify for maintenance?

The Colorado courts will consider many different aspects of your marriage when deciding whether or not to order maintenance and how much it should be. They will look both at the ability of the spouse requesting it to support themselves and the ability of the other spouse to afford it. Income and separate assets, as well as property received in the divorce, can affect maintenance claims.

The gender of the spouses won’t matter as much as who earns more and who is dependent on the other. The courts will focus on earning potential, assets and contributions to the marriage. They will also consider the standard of living during the marriage

Knowing details about household assets and income can make it easier to ask for the support you need.

Getting spousal maintenance can be a legal challenge in some cases, which may mean you need to strategize carefully in order to get the support that you need.