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Colorado may feel a growing push to change alimony laws

Colorado residents who are considering or have already been through a divorce may want to keep an eye on other states that are considering a change in their alimony laws. Several states have recently changed their laws, or are currently considering changing them, in response to complaints that their alimony systems have been unfair.

Also called spousal support or spousal maintenance, alimony is designed to address financial inequalities between spouses at the end of a marriage. each state has its own way of handling alimony, but typically it involves an agreement in which one spouse will pay the other a set amount for a set period of time, or until some other condition is met. For instance, if the nonpaying spouse remarries, the payments will stop under current family law.

Some states have rigid guidelines behind alimony, setting out formulas for courts to follow based upon factors such as the length of the marriage and the income of the spouses. Other states allow the judges more discretion to decide what amount of alimony seems fair under the unique circumstances of each divorce.

Colorado law provides that "maintenance" (as the state calls it) may be awarded when one spouse has insufficient income to meet his or her needs at the end of the marriage. The court decides the amount awarded based on such factors as the couple's standard of living before the divorce and the paying spouse's ability to pay.

However, groups in several states have recently pushed to change their alimony laws, calling them outdated and biased against men, who often are not the primary breadwinners in American marriages today. The Colorado legislature has recently considered a new, more regimented formula for alimony.

Spousal maintenance is often vital to people hoping to leave a marriage without plunging into poverty, but it can also sometimes take the form of an unfair burden on the paying spouse. Colorado couples may want to keep a close eye on changes in alimony law.

Source: Asbury Park Press, "Alimony troubles: Two sides escalate battle in NJ," Dustin Racioppi, Feb. 21, 2013

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