While married, a couple generally combines their assets and together becomes accustomed to a certain lifestyle. However, if the couple decides to divorce later on down the road, the financial lifestyle that both people are accustomed to can be put in jeopardy. This is especially true when one spouse was a stay-at-home parent or if there was a large disparity in income between two working spouses. The law in Colorado recognizes the need of both spouses to be financially independent after a divorce and therefore provides for spousal support payments to be ordered when appropriate. In Colorado, these spousal support payments are called “maintenance” while other states refer to them as “alimony”. Maintenance payments in Colorado are calculated in part based on the amount of income that each ex-spouse earns. But what happens if an alimony paying ex-spouse loses their job? Do they still have to pay maintenance in Denver? This article briefly addresses these questions, however, the circumstances surrounding each alimony order are different and therefore it is always a good idea to consult with an experienced alimony attorney to discuss any case specific questions that you may have.
Income Plays an Important Role in Calculating Alimony Payments
Under section 14-10-114(3)(a)(1) of the Colorado Revised Statutes, if a family law court in Colorado determines that alimony payments are appropriate then the amount of the maintenance is determined based on each party’s gross income, property, financial resources, and financial need. Based on this formula, a party’s gross income plays a huge role in determining how much alimony a party will be ordered to pay. But what happens if an ex-spouse loses their job after a court in Colorado ordered them to make alimony payments that were calculated partially based on their previous income?
How Unemployment Affects Alimony Payments in Denver
In a nutshell, alimony-paying ex-spouses in Colorado are still required to continue making their court ordered payments even after losing their job. Once a court orders a person to pay alimony, that order must be obeyed until a modification to the maintenance order is issued. But do not fear, it is possible to obtain a maintenance modification in Colorado if you find yourself unemployed. The standard for modifying alimony orders in Colorado is outlined in section 14-10-122 of the Colorado Revised Statutes and notes that in order for alimony payments to be modified the petitioner must show that a substantial and continuing change to their financial situation has occurred. The petitioner must also show that this change renders the terms of their current maintenance order unfair.
Therefore, if you would like the court to modify your existing alimony order based on the fact that you lost your job, you must be able to show that being unemployed has caused a substantial and continuing change to your financial situation and that therefore your existing order is unfair. Keep in mind that you are required to stay current with your monthly alimony payments under the original court order until a judge grants a modification. However, after a modification is granted, the court has the power to reduce any alimony payment that was due after you filed the petition to modify your court order. This means that you may be entitled to a refund for the extra maintenance money that you paid while your modification petition was pending.
Need Legal Advice?
If you are currently paying alimony to an ex-spouse and are interested in petitioning the court for a modification, contact the experienced Colorado divorce attorneys at Robinson & Henry, P.C. today. Schedule a free consultation by calling either our office in Castle Rock (303-688-0944) or in Denver (720-707-4024).