Two-income marriages have long been commonplace in Colorado. But many spouses, both men and women, choose to put a career on hold and stay at home to raise the children. When these couples divorce, the stay-at-home spouse is often fearful for their financial future. After a few years at home, they may need some time to get back into the work force. In many cases they will also need to pursue some additional education or training to get their skills up to date.
Alimony, referred to as maintenance in Colorado, is often ordered when spouses divorce after a long marriage in which one spouse had significantly greater income than the other. Alimony can help the lower-earning spouse get back on their feet financially and acquire the education or skills needed to get a better job or re-enter the workforce.
Many readers of this blog may be aware of the October 6 action by the United States Supreme Court, which effectively legalized same-sex marriage in Colorado. The high court declined to hear several appeals of decisions ruling same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional.
Although two-income marriages are probably the norm nowadays, there are still many marriages in which one spouse stays at home to care for children, or in which the spouses both work but one earns significantly more than the other. Because spouse's finances are typically intermingled, divorce can be financially devastating for a spouse who was economically dependent on the other spouse during the marriage.
Colorado couples know that there are many things that can put severe strain on a marriage. One of the most stressful is serious or chronic illness. While sickness, like hard times, can bring some couples closer together, it can pull others apart. A recent study from the University of Michigan shows the seriousness of the problem. Almost a third - 31 percent - of marriages in which one partner is seriously ill are ended by divorce.
Colorado residents who've been through a divorce know that the financial adjustment can be a challenge, to say the least. This is especially so for a former spouse who elected to put a career on hold to stay home and care for the children. The story of one woman provides a good illustration of how tough it can be to reenter the workforce.
Many Colorado readers will remember British comedian John Cleese from his days with Monty Python. A few years ago Cleese hit the road with a stand-up act and called it "The Alimony Tour." He wasn't being entirely tongue-in-cheek; according to Cleese, he has had to do a lot of extra work to make spousal support payments to his former wife.
Colorado couples who are contemplating divorce can perhaps take heart from the recent news regarding the divorce of actress and comedian Jane Lynch and psychologist Lara Embry. Their divorce appears to offer confirmation that the marriage dissolution process doesn't have to be painful and acrimonious. Lynch and Embry recently finalized their split, and news reports indicate it was civilized and amicable. In fact, the two appear to have remained friends-they even spent some time with each other over the holidays.
The last several decades have seen a significant growth in the number of women in the workforce, in Colorado and throughout the country. But the highest levels of some industries are still dominated by men. One of these industries is banking. A recent news article focused on a group of women who have broken into the top ranks of the financial industry, and found that many of them got there in part because they have an advantage many of the men take for granted: a stay-at-home spouse.
The American family, in Colorado as everywhere else, is undergoing fundamental changes. Experts say they are surprised by how rapidly the traditional family has changed. And they say the changes are far from over. Some of these changes in the family may lead to changes in the way people end their marriages.