How Long Do You Have to Pay Spousal Support?

Laura E. Shapiro -

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How long you have to pay spousal support depends on a few different factors. You can pay spousal support for a short time or continue making payments even after you retire. A judge takes a number of factors into consideration before determining the amount and duration of monthly spousal support payments. One primary factor is the length of your marriage. The longer you were married, the longer you may have to pay spousal support.

On the other hand, you may not have to pay spousal support if the marriage lasted less than three years. According to Colorado’s statutory guidelines, a court awards spousal support in an amount and for a term that is fair and equitable to both parties.

When Is Spousal Support Paid on a Temporary Basis?

A judge can order temporary spousal support payments while a couple’s divorce or legal separation is pending in court. Sometimes an unemployed spouse or an underemployed spouse asks for financial support to pay their share of the bills while waiting for the final ruling on the divorce or legal separation.

Awarding spousal support will allow the spouses, especially those with children, to maintain the financial stability they had before they decided to separate. The temporary spousal support ends when the court issues the divorce decree or grants the legal separation unless otherwise agreed or ordered.

How Long After My Divorce Will I Have to Make Spousal Support Payments?

The length of maintenance or spousal support depends on whether the judge grants your former spouse’s request for spousal support. Even if the court grants the request, a judge may place a cut-off period on payments. Sometimes, the judge only awards spousal support until the spouse receiving support gets back on their feet. For instance, the judge may order spousal support payments until a former spouse finds a job, completes a job-training program or acquires education to obtain marketable skills.

In some cases, spouses reach their own agreement about who pays spousal support, the amount of support, and the duration of payments. The couple can include this in their divorce settlement or legal separation agreement and submit the plan for the court’s approval.

How Can a Spouse Receive Long-Term Spousal Support?

A spouse who cannot work because of a serious illness or a disability, or is a senior citizen may receive long-term or permanent spousal support. There are many factors the court considers.

How Does a Judge Determine How Much Spousal Support I Will Have to Pay?

Family court judges follow Colorado’s guidelines found in Revised Statute §14-10-114. The statutory guidelines use a formula for calculating spousal support for couples who have been married for at least three years but less than 20 years, and whose combined annual adjusted gross income does not exceed $240,000. This formula will change in 2019 when new tax laws go into effect.

The court does not use this formula for marriages of less than three years and more than 20 years. This does not mean that spouses cannot receive spousal support. After taking specific factors into consideration, a judge can order short-term spousal support in marriages of less than three years or indefinite support in marriages of more than 20 years.

What Should I Do When I Want to Change the Amount of Spousal Support I Am Currently Paying?

You may ask the court to modify or terminate your payment amount if you can prove that your circumstances have substantially changed to the point that continuing to make payments under the existing divorce decree is unfair. For example, if you lost your job, or were seriously injured in an accident or developed an incurable disease that limits your ability to work, you may ask for a modification or termination of spousal support.

Maintenance terminates upon remarriage of the recipient or death of either party. Additionally, if you believe your ex to be remarried by common-law and it can be proven, support payments will terminate.

What Is the Process for Modifying Spousal Support Payments?

You can file a motion that states the reasons for your change. You must also serve the other spouse with the motion. Modifying spousal support is a complicated process, and without solid proof of the substantial continuing changes in your circumstances, the judge may deny your request.

Shapiro Family Law can help you seek spousal support modification or termination. We can speak with you about the reasons for your request, file the motion on your behalf, and represent you at the court hearing. Our family law attorneys are well-versed in handling a modification or termination motion and can offer legal advice throughout the process.

Have More Questions? Contact Shapiro Family Law at 303-695-0200

Shapiro Family Law has helped many individuals with their spousal support, child support, divorce, and other family law issues. We can help you, too. Schedule an appointment today by calling 303-695-0200.

Laura E. Shapiro

Laura Shapiro is an award-winning Family Law Attorney with 40+ years of experience. Laura practices Family Law exclusively with her primary focus being divorce and child custody matters.

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