Spouses are typically expected to support each other financially—and this support does not necessarily end in the event of a divorce. But what about in the event of a remarriage?
In Colorado, alimony, also referred to as maintenance, is money that a financially better off spouse pays to the other spouse once they become divorced or legally separated. Though maintenance is not automatically awarded in a Colorado divorce, a judge may choose to award it if the lower-earning spouse can establish that he or she does not have ample resources to initially support themselves upon separation from their spouse.
Maintenance is awarded by the court by three methods: a lump sum payment, through a property transfer, or through periodic alimony. Periodic alimony often takes the form of monthly payments, and lasts until one of the following scenarios occur:
- A court order states that it ends
- Either of the spouses die
- The spouse being supported remarries
It is extremely common for the supported spouse in a Colorado divorce to remarry. If the supported spouse remarries, then the paying spouse is no longer obliged to pay periodic alimony. An exception to this is if the couple previously signed an agreement that specifically indicates otherwise.
Generally, the paying spouse may simply opt to stop paying spousal support on the date of the supported spouse’s remarriage. They do not need to appear in court. Note that remarriage only terminates spousal support in terms of periodic alimony. If the spousal support is given in the form of a lump sum payment or a property transfer, then remarriage will not terminate the paying spouse’s obligation to pay.
The court may also possibly terminate periodic alimony payments if there is a substantial change in circumstances. The receiving spouse, for instance, may no longer need the support if he or she has acquired a high-paying job. The alimony payments, however, continue until there is a court order that specifically terminates this obligation.
Parents who no longer live with each other still have a legal duty to financially support their children. Usually, the non-custodial parent pays child support to the custodial parent on a monthly basis.
In the event of a remarriage, child support is not directly affected. Colorado courts state that the remarriage of a parent is not enough reason to modify child support. When making decisions on child support, judges do not take into consideration the income of the parent’s new spouse. A new spouse’s wealth has absolutely no impact on child support, and so it makes no difference whether the custodial or non-custodial parent remarries.
A parent’s remarriage can only affect child support in the rare scenario where a new spouse provides a particular amount of money to the parent every month which could be considered income. Such money will not be considered by the court as income if it is used to pay for necessities such as groceries, mortgage, and other household expenses.
Having new children, either by adoption or birth, will also have no bearing on earlier child support orders. Courts will not lower a parent’s financial obligations to existing children simply because they had more children.
If you are divorced and have concerns on how remarriage will impact alimony or child support payments, contact an experienced Colorado family law attorney as soon as possible.