Alimony, known as maintenance in Colorado, can be critical for a divorcing spouse who was dependent financially on the other spouse during the marriage. It is sometimes awarded in order to allow a former stay-at-home spouse to get the education and training needed to rejoin the workforce and become self-sufficient.
But when circumstances change, an award of spousal maintenance that was appropriate at the time it was entered may no longer be fair to one spouse. In these situations a spouse may be able to go to court and obtain an alimony modification. A modification can be sought by either the paying or receiving spouse.
An award of spousal maintenance can be modified if the court finds there has been a change in circumstances that is both substantial and continuing, so as to make the original maintenance award unfair. The court will look at the circumstances of both parties in determining whether the original award is now unfair.
It is important to note that if the court orders a modification, it can only modify payments due after the motion for a modification was made. Thus a spouse who is in arrears in maintenance payments cannot go to court and have those payments retroactively reduced.
Not every alimony award can be modified. Colorado law allows divorcing parties to enter into a binding separation agreement that includes provisions governing maintenance. The statute allows the parties to include a provision in the agreement that prohibits modification. If the alimony provision in the separation agreement is not modifiable, the court has no power to modify it.
Source: Colorado Revised Statutes, “Section 14-10-122,” accessed July 27, 2015