When a married couple decides to separate or to seek a divorce, the law provides a mechanism for both spouses to continue to enjoy a similar standard of living as they begin their new lives apart from one another. This is especially important when spouses have vastly different income and financial resources, so that one spouse is not unfairly burdened by a reduction in his or her standard of living just because his or her marriage has ended.
Under Colorado law, courts may order one spouse to provide maintenance or spousal support to the other spouse. Maintenance can be ordered on a temporary basis, such as if spouses are separated to provide a spouse support for the duration of a divorce proceeding.
Maintenance can also be ordered on a long-term basis following final decree of divorce. However, maintenance is rarely intended to be a permanent obligation; instead, the purpose behind maintenance is to allow the recipient spouse to obtain education or employment that will allow him or her to achieve financial independence.
Determining maintenance and support can be a complex matter. At Halligan LLC, our Denver maintenance and spousal support attorneys will fight to protect and advance your rights and interests. Contact us today at (720) 608-2361 to schedule a confidential consultation to discuss the specifics of your situation.
Spouses Seek Fair Outcomes in Spousal Support Matters
Calculating maintenance or spousal support requires an evaluation of the spouses’ respective financial situations. This includes both spouses’ incomes, in-kind benefits, assets, and debts (per the property division), the standard of living the spouses enjoyed during the marriage, and both spouses earning potential.
Many maintenance and spousal support disputes center on calculating each spouse’s income. “Income” for support purposes is not the same as the income one might report on their tax returns. Instead, courts will consider other sources of income that may be excluded from taxable income, such as workers’ compensation or unemployment benefits, Social Security disability benefits, or expense reimbursements earned in the course of business. Additionally, a spouse may be deemed voluntarily unemployed or under-employed, in which case that spouse will be imputed income.
Determining a spouse’s maintenance or support obligation can also be difficult if his or her income is derived largely from business interests. It can be easy to use “creative” accounting to make a business’s value or the income derived from a business seem smaller than it actually is. In these cases, it is often necessary to retain accounting and financial experts to help give the court an accurate picture of a spouse’s income and value of the business.
Even when a maintenance or support obligation is established, it is often necessary to return to court when the a spouse’s financial or personal circumstances change or if the spouse with the maintenance or support obligation fails to make the required payments. New tax laws have also altered the landscape of maintenance and support obligations; payments made are no longer tax deductible while payments received are no longer considered taxable income.
Denver Family Lawyers Help Divorcing Spouses Seek Fair Maintenance and Support
Our team works tirelessly to protect the rights and interests of our clients during maintenance and spousal support proceedings. We ensure that we account for all of your spouse’s assets and income so that you obtain a fair maintenance arrangement. We work to uncover any hidden or devalued assets and can work with experts to ensure that complex or high-value assets such as business interests or investments are accurately valued and incorporated into your spouse’s assets and income.
When necessary, we can help you to enforce or modify an existing support or maintenance arrangement. If your spouse has a significant change in income, or if you are making payments to a former spouse who is getting remarried, we can seek a modification on your behalf.
Frequently Asked Questions about Maintenance and Spousal Support in Denver, CO
Do I need to go to court to receive maintenance or spousal support?
Not necessarily. You and your spouse may agree to spousal support or maintenance. If you agree to some form of spousal support, you can ask the court to incorporate in an order that you can later enforce in court. Of course, you can also ask the court to order spousal support if you believe you should be entitled to it. However, if you wish to seek maintenance following your divorce, you must request the court decide the issue (or incorporate your agreement) in the final divorce hearing.
What if my or my former spouse’s circumstances have changed?
If you or your former spouse’s financial, employment, health, or living situation has changed since you agreed upon spousal support or since the court issued a spousal support or maintenance order, you may be able to request a modification of the order. If the court finds that there has been a substantial change in circumstances since the original arrangement was decided upon, and such a change renders the original maintenance order unconscionable or unfair, it can order a reduction or even a termination of a support or maintenance obligation.
What do I do if I am not receiving the spousal support the court ordered?
If you are not receiving maintenance or spousal support payments you are entitled to pursuant to a court order, you can request the court enter a judgment against the other party and/or issue an order enforcing the maintenance or support obligation against your spouse. The court can enforce an order by holding your spouse or ex in contempt or, by conducting wage garnishment against your spouse or ex.
Contact Halligan LLC Today
Maintenance and spousal support are meant to ensure that a separated or divorcing couple continue to enjoy a roughly equal standard of living as they start their new lives apart from one another. Trying to establish a support arrangement or order can be a difficult, emotionally-charged process. If you and your spouse are separating or divorcing, contact Halligan LLC at (720) 608-2361 or fill out a contact form to speak with one of our experienced Denver family lawyers today.