In many Colorado divorce proceedings, the court will determine that one spouse must provide some form of support to another spouse. Often, this is because one spouse put his or her career or education on hold to care for the marital home, or because the income potential of one spouse is significantly higher than the other spouse.
However, it is important to know that even when a Colorado family court judge hands down a final order in a divorce proceeding, that order is not necessarily permanent. Almost all orders can be modified under certain circumstances, when required conditions are met. This is also true of spousal support orders.
Modifying a Spousal Support Order
Spousal support orders, or spousal maintenance orders, can be modified in some instances. However, there is no hard and fast rule for when modification is appropriate. Instead, it is left up to the courts to determine when a modification of a spousal maintenance order is proper.
The standard is that the order may be modified “only upon a showing of changed circumstances so substantial and continuing as to make the terms unfair.”
If this sounds vague, it is because it is intended to be so. This leaves much of the discretion up to the individual judge presiding over the modification order, and it allows the judge to determine when modifications are appropriate on a case-by-case basis.
In the recent case in front of the Colorado Court of Appeals, Marriage of Dadiotis v. Dadiotis, the husband was seeking a modification order terminating his support obligation because his ex-wife had failed to include a source of income when the court originally determined his support obligation. The husband claimed that the wife intentionally withheld this source of income, that the wife committed fraud, and that such conduct should void the original order.
The Court explained that the order should not be modified in this specific instance, but that in general, when fraud is committed in a divorce proceeding, a modification may be appropriate. Specific to this case, the court noted that the husband was on notice that his wife had the alternate source of income and that he testified he didn’t want to get into it at the divorce because he wanted to “be nice about it.” The Court also noted that the source of income didn’t actually generate income during the divorce proceedings, due to the large amount of debt the business had.
Thus, the court held that the woman was not acting with fraudulent intent when she didn’t report the income.
Are You Involved in a Colorado Divorce Proceeding?
If you are currently involved in a divorce, or are contemplating filing for a divorce in the State of Colorado, you should enlist the assistance of an experienced Denver divorce attorney. Emotions can and often do run hot during divorces, and what one party says behind closed doors may not bind him or her in a court of law. To learn more about the divorce laws in Colorado and to schedule an initial consultation with a dedicated family law attorney, call 303-781-0322.