As part of a legal separation or divorce in Colorado, one spouse is sometimes ordered to pay the other spouse spousal maintenance. Also known as spousal support and alimony, this financial award is meant to help spouses who do not have the income or resources to fully support themselves post-separation or divorce. Spousal maintenance can be awarded temporarily, for a specific length of time, or on a permanent basis. However, you can have spousal support terminated if some specific circumstances apply to your case, and in some situations, this award terminates on its own. If you’d like to terminate spousal support, speak to the experienced team at Burnham Law about your case as soon as possible.
Remarriage and Civil Unions
Support set for a specific time frame from the date of the separation or divorce automatically terminates if the receiving spouse enters into a civil union or marries someone else. If, however, you and your former spouse signed an agreement that says otherwise, the support will continue. In the absence of an agreement with these specific provisions, the spouse who is paying can simply stop making the payments on the date of the receiving spouse’s civil union registration or marriage without a court hearing. Keep in mind that a civil union or remarriage only terminates alimony that is made in periodic payments, such as monthly or yearly. It does not have an impact on the paying spouse’s obligation to transfer property or pay any lump sum support.
If the receiving spouse is now living with someone else and in a romantic relationship, it does not immediately end his or her right to spousal support. If you are paying your former spouse but want to end the payments because he or she is living with another partner, you will have to show the court that the relationship is equal to a common law marriage and that your former spouse’s living expenses have been significantly reduced. If, for example, your former spouse is now living rent-free because of the new relationship, the court may view that reduction in living costs as enough to justify terminating the support.
Death or End of the Stated Period
The death of either spouse automatically ends spousal support in most cases. The obligation may continue, however, if the spouses signed an agreement stating the support would continue in the event of the death of either party. This support also ends if it was ordered for a specific length of time and that amount of time has passed.
Terminating Spousal Support Through Court
To request that spousal maintenance be terminated, a motion to do so must be completed and filed with the court. You also need to deliver a copy of the motion to your former spouse and follow all the requirements for doing so set out by the court. In the motion, you will need to explain exactly why spousal support should end and provide copies of any evidence you have to back up your statements.
Once the motion is filed, the court will review it and can either grant your request and order the support be terminated or set a hearing date for the issue, during which both you and your former spouse will be allowed make statements and provide evidence that supports your side of the case. If a hearing is set, you must attend. If you do not show up, the court will likely dismiss your motion.
If the termination is granted, it only goes back to the date you originally filed your motion. This is why it’s important to file a modification for termination as soon as you believe it is warranted. When you wait, you will end up paying support you may not have had to pay otherwise.
Naturally, having to pay spousal support is a serious obligation that affects your finances, and this is especially true in complex high-asset divorce and separation cases. Spousal maintenance is a court-ordered award, so you should not simply stop paying it because you don’t think it’s reasonable or necessary any more. Stopping support payments when you are still obligated to pay could harm your reputation with the judge and damage your case. Do not stop paying your support until you have confirmed with your attorney and/or the court that you are no longer required to pay.
If you believe that you should no longer have to pay spousal support but are not sure what to do or what the impact of any existing marital agreements is on your current obligation, speak to the trusted and experienced team at Burnham Law about your case. We will work to officially terminate your spousal support order so that you can move forward.
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