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Everything you want to know about alimony

Alimony. For some Coloradoans, the word has intense emotional reactions, whether negative or positive. For others, they have no idea what the word alimony even means.

Alimony is another term for spousal support, or the payments one ex-spouse makes to another per their divorce decree. Alimony is not awarded in every divorce, and the terms and amounts can vary based on divorcing couples' situations.

In order to clear up some common misconceptions surrounding alimony, the purpose of it is not to punish a spouse for wrongdoing. Rather, alimony is awarded in cases where the unfair economic effects of a divorce needs to be off-set by providing a continuing income to a non-wage-earning or lower-wage-earning spouse.

Essentially, alimony helps to "give a fair shake" to the spouse who earned less money in the relationship, but likely made other contributions to the marriage that were not measured on an economic scale. It can help the lower-earning spouse to maintain a similar standard of living that one becomes accustomed.

Alimony can be awarded in the short or long-term and can really be any dollar amount that meets the above criteria, per the divorcing couple and their situation. Courts have significant discretion when determining how alimony is awarded, and it is determined by weighing and comparing many factors.

Depending on one's view, they may be hoping to receive an alimony settlement or hoping that one is not awarded to an ex-spouse. Whatever the scenario, there is a way to represent one's viewpoint in the best possible light during divorce proceedings.

There are ways to assess if one's dissolution of marriage qualifies or does not qualify for alimony or spousal support. If both spouses make similar amounts of money, for instance, alimony is likely off the table.

However, if one spouse supported the family financially, while the other ran the household, it is possible that this scenario could play out with a spousal support payment plan in place. Wherever is at, consider how alimony could impact the divorce proceedings.

Source: Family.FindLaw.com, "Spousal Support (Alimony) Basics," accessed on July 18, 2016

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