Can I get support from my ex in Colorado? Maybe – and probably not forever.

Like many other things with different names, alimony is called “spousal maintenance” in Colorado. True alimony for a lifetime has to be agreed upon by both parties and is usually reserved for taking care of a spouse with little to no prospect of employment, due to things like ill health or advanced age. Even though Colorado does use the phrase alimony for spousal maintenance post Decree of Dissolution of Marriage, it is most often for a set period of time, and rarely continues until death or remarriage of the receiving party.

Spousal maintenance is not a “get by for free” card in this state. It is considered a “rehabilitative” payment to help the lower income spouse get on their feet, reestablish an income source, and move on with life. Child support is for the children’s wellbeing and care, not for the primary support of the custodial parent. There is a formula employed by the Colorado Family Court system to calculate the amount of spousal maintenance that may be granted. Factors that figure in, besides income for each party, is if either party has insufficient assets to maintain themselves, or a condition such as health prevents it. Any change from what the court comes up with must be agreed upon and proven to be necessary to the judge handling the case.

There are also things the court will look at to determine spousal maintenance overall, such as the financial condition of the spouse requesting maintenance. Here is one place child support is looked at, as the court takes into account childcare and over-riding factors such as housing. The court also looks at things you might not suspect, like the standard of living enjoyed by both parties during the marriage. The length of the marriage, the emotional and physical condition of the requesting spouse, and the financial ability of the paying party will also be looked at. Colorado tries to be practical but fair in rendering all such decisions and also attempts to keep gender bias to a minimum.

One thing you do need to know is that spousal maintenance is taxable income in Colorado, and the payment of same is tax deductible. This is different from a lot of places. That said, you often have to declare the income when applying for certain types of loans, credit, or financial aid. A good Family Law counsel can advise you about options. Personally, I like Patricia Perello in Colorado Springs. She is experienced, fair and is a straight shooter about what the courts will recommend.