Alimony is a concept that allows for one spouse to provide for the support and maintenance of the other for a period of time following separation. Alimony is also referred to as maintenance in Colorado.
The purpose of alimony is to help the recipient to become self-supporting. Here are Five Factors that the court will look at in determining whether alimony should be awarded, and if so how much.
1. The amount of each party’s gross income (income before deductions)
If you and your spouse make about the same amount of money, then alimony will not likely be awarded. Alimony is based on a need and ability to pay. If you don’t have a huge need, and your ex doesn’t have the ability to pay, then it is unlikely that it will be awarded.
2. The martial property given to each spouse
This factor addresses the property that is owned by the parties. The court can consider how much of the property- including the homes/land you own, retirement accounts, things you own, cars, and bank accounts that you own – is given to each spouse in determining whether alimony is awarded.
Judges prefer to give more of the stuff over ordering an ongoing payment from one spouse to the other. That is not always what happens.
3. The financial resources of each party
This factor allows the court to look at all of the things that both parties own and owe – including sole and separate assets or liabilities. If one spouse is taking all of the debt and none of the property, the court has to consider that before alimony is awarded.
The court will also consider the ability of each spouse to earn income. If one spouse needs some time to become ready for the workforce, this should be considered by the court.
4. The reasonable financial need of the parties as established during the marriage
The court will consider what the financial needs was during the marriage. The best way to explain this one is through example – lets say one spouse was working but after the divorce started, that spouse quit their job. This would not increase the amount of alimony that is awarded.
Contrast that with the stay at home parent who hasn’t worked in the last three years because the parties had children they were supporting. This spouse would be more likely to have alimony awarded.
5. Whether an award of alimony would be taxable
The tax laws from 2017 changed the rules regarding alimony. Alimony used to be a deduction to the spouse who paid it and it was something that the receiving spouse had to claim as income on their taxes. Beginning January, 2019 alimony will no longer be a taxable event, similar to child support. Alimony will simply pass from one spouse to the other.
Said simpler: alimony awarded in 2019 and years forward, it will not be taxable, which impacts how alimony is calculated and how often it is awarded.
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