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Spousal support and maintenance, or alimony, is frequently a hot-button topic in divorce. Many spouses – on both sides of the issue – have unrealistic expectations about how the system works, and that leads to both unnecessary confusion and frustration.
If you learn more about how alimony works in Colorado before you begin your divorce negotiations, you may have an easier time managing your expectations and bargaining for what you need.
There are five basic types of alimony available
Every state does things a little differently than the others, and times change – so forget whatever your cousin or brother or aunt has told you about alimony. In Colorado, there are five different ways spousal support can be awarded:
1. Separation alimony: This is used when a couple has legally separated but not yet divorced, and it can be awarded for up to three years. It ceases if you divorce (although another type of spousal support may then be awarded) or reconcile.
2. Temporary alimony: There can be a significant gap in time between when a divorce is filed and when all the issues are settled and the decree is finalized. Temporary alimony can provide a dependent spouse the support they need during this time.
3. Rehabilitative alimony: Did you or your spouse give up a career to take care of the kids or to support the other spouse’s career in some way? Rehabilitative alimony can help the dependent spouse get back on their feet and regain self-sufficiency.
4. Reimbursement alimony: Did one of you work two jobs while the other was in school? Was one of you “unpaid help” in the family business? If so, that spouse may be justified in asking for reimbursement of what they invested.
5. Permanent alimony: This is uncommon, but it does happen. If the dependent spouse is unlikely to ever be self-sufficient, the alimony can extend far into the future (although it may still end if the other spouse remarries, dies or their situation changes).
Regardless of whether you expect to pay or receive spousal support, it helps to know the strengths and weaknesses of your position, so talk the issue over with someone who has the legal experience you need.