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What are the grounds for terminating spousal maintenance in Denver, Colorado?

On Behalf of | Jan 7, 2022 | Spousal Maintenance

According to Title 14 of the Colorado Revised Statutes, Colorado is a “no-fault” state. This means that couples can be granted a divorce without one of them having to prove that the other did something to merit ending the marriage.

Decisions have to be made, such as child custody and division of marital property. When high-value assets are involved, the process can become even more complicated.

In Colorado, spousal support may be awarded depending on the length of the marriage, the income or earning capacity of each party and other elements of the over-all property division. If you’ve been married for decades, this can have a huge impact on your finances. Therefore, here are the grounds for spousal maintenance payment termination in the state of Colorado.

Cohabitation

It is a common myth that cohabitation automatically provides valid grounds to terminate spousal maintenance payments. That is not accurate. This may apply if your ex-spouse begins cohabitating with someone in a romantic relationship, AND that living arrangement results in a significant improvement in his/her financial situation. For example, if your ex-partner moves in with a new partner and is living rent-free, and receiving other financial benefits, that generally indicates a reduction in their financial needs. However, if your ex is living with a new partner and each of them are contributing equally to the living expenses, there may not be the required financial change.  It is the change in  financial circumstances and not the connection with a new partner that might justify a reduction or termination of maintenance payments.

Remarriage

If the receiving spouse remarries, the obligation to pay maintenance generally terminates, at least in the absence of a specific provision in the divorce orders requiring payment after remarriage. It’s important to note that remarriage only terminates periodic spousal support and does not affect property transfers or lump sum payments.

Death of either party

The death of either spouse generally terminates the obligation to pay or the entitlement to receive spousal support.  However, in some cases spouses may have entered into an agreement allowing the continuation of spousal support in the event of the death of the person making the payments.  In that case, the continued obligation would be the responsibility of the deceased party’s estate.  Often there is a provision requiring the paying party to maintain life insurance for the benefit of the receiving party to secure the payment obligation.

How to file for spousal support termination

Unless an ex-spouse remarries or dies, the supporting party can only terminate payments through a court order. This is done by filing a motion with the court that states valid reasons relating to substantial and continuing changes in the financial circumstances of one or both of the parties that make the existing order unfair. A copy of the motion must be delivered to the receiving spouse. The court will then typically require some financial disclosures by both sides, may require mediation and set a hearing where both parties will present their evidence. If the termination motion is granted the court has to power to make it retroactive to the date  the modification claim was filed.

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