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Old 01-19-2013, 10:21 AM
 
599 posts, read 802,731 times
Reputation: 579

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For those who do not know, Colorado has the most onerous alimony laws in the US. (Alimony here goes by the politically correct label of "Spousal Maintenance", but "Spousal Maintenenace" IS alimony.)

We have a crisis in this state of people avoiding marriage. They are avoiding marriage because the Colorado Family Law system has proven to be the most abusive in the country, and people are fed up with it. This frustration applies to both men and women. Marriage among people under 35 has fallen precipitously, and the rate of second marriages have fallen even more. The raw statistics show Colorado is about in the middle as far as rate of marriage, but Colorado is a destination wedding state, just like Hawaii. If you were able to subtract out the destination weddings, Colorado would likely be in the bottom five for marriage rates.

Many other states have either passed alimony reforms recently, or are in the process of passing reform. The goals of the reforms in other states are to make alimony more fair, and to put in place absolute limits to prevent the judicial abuse that is so common in alimony rulings.

In the face of this, Rep. Beth McCann (D-Denver) has introduced a bill to reform alimony, to make it even *more* onerous, and even *more* crippling to the person who pays. The bill is HB 13-1058. It is available here: HB 13-1058 - Colorado 2013 Regular Session - Open States

The bill codifies all that is wrong with Spousal Maintenance in Colorado. Here are the major issues:

1) The bill makes permanent alimony amounts of 40%(higher earner's gross) - 50%(lower earner's gross), resulting in the HIGHEST alimony awards in the entire United States of America. There is *NO* other state that will award this amount. California uses the 40%-50% forumula, but it is calculated on NET income, not GROSS. Most state's awards are in the ballpark of the 30%-20% AAML formula, or even lower, such as Texas, which caps alimony at 20% of payor's gross. NO OTHER STATE would make such a ridiculous alimony order.

2) The durations in the bill are the *longest* durations of any state. ALL other states use either 1/3 the length of the marriage or 1/2 for medium term marriages. Many states, like Texas and Kansas, also have absolute limits regardless of length of marriage, (Texas is 10 years, Kansas is 10 years, one month). This bill orders lifetime alimony, without termination for retirement, for any marriage over 20 years. This is counter to *every* other state that has enacted divorce reform in the past five years. For marriages under 20 years, it orders escalating durations from 30% to 65% of the length of marriage. Thus, alimony for a 15 year marriage, for example, lasts for 8.5 years, and alimony for a 20 year marriage lasts for 13.5 years. Over 20 years? LIFETIME alimony.

There should be a date of ABSOLUTE termination of alimony in every case. No one should ever be saddled with an alimony amount that is indefinite, as this bill allows. Fairness would be either the alimony terminates after x amount of time, or when the payor reaches "full retirement age", but the language in this bill does neither in marriages of over 20 years.The bill sentences men *AND* women to lifetime alimony payments, when this concept is absolutely on its way out in the US, and it was NEVER something that existed in Europe or any other part of the world. Who on earth believes in lifetime alimony in 2013?

Furthermore, if we believe the purpose of alimony to be to get someone on their feet and to become self sustaining, why on earth would we ever award more than 7-10 years of alimony?

Remember, the terms in this bill are AUTOMATIC, and have nothing to do with fault, minor children, disability, or lack of education. Someone with a master's degree and making $90,000 per year can be awarded $50,000 per year in alimony FOR LIFE, with no negotiation, under this bill. All divorces in Colorado are no fault, so the person receiving the alimony could have cheated on the marriage, and even moved in with someone else prior to the divorce!

The rest of the bill is similarly flawed. If passed as written, Colorado will retain its title as the WORST place on earth to divorce. This reputation has made it onto the internet in articles, blogs and forums, and there are people avoiding Colorado because of this. Ask yourself this question: If you were a decision maker at a company looking to expand to another state, and you heard that Colorado abuses its taxpaying citizens with the most onerous alimony awards in the country, would this be a positive or negative factor in your decision to locate here? In every case it would be seen as a negative.

The bill is currently under debate in the Judiciary committee. People need to WRITE THEIR REPRESENTATIVES on the Judiciary committee and let them know they will not stand for the Colorado Bar Association (who wrote the bill) getting laws passed that favor NO ONE but the divorce lawyers and others in the divorce industry.

I am not kidding when I say that the people of Colorado are *so* fed up with the alimony situation here, that a ballot initiative is a real possibility. Nearly every person who divorces here fights a battle over assets to prevent or reduce alimony payments. Alimony is a 19th century concept that does not fit in the 21st century mindset, and people here, especially young people, would vote to completely eliminate alimony if given the chance. It just makes no sense.

Last edited by coloradoalimony; 01-19-2013 at 10:58 AM..

 
Old 01-19-2013, 10:50 AM
 
599 posts, read 802,731 times
Reputation: 579
The links in the prior post did not format correctly. I apologize.The Colorado House Judiciary committee is as follows:



Name Role District Party

Wright, Jared Member 54 Republican - jared.wright.house@state.co.us
McLachlan, Mike Member 59 Democratic - mike.mclachlan.house@state.co.us
Carole Murray Member 45 Republican - murrayhouse45@gmail.com
Salazar, Joseph A Member 31 Democratic - joseph.salazar.house@state.co.us
Pettersen, Brittany Member 28 Democratic - brittany.pettersen.house@state.co.us
Lawrence, Polly Member 39 Republican - polly.lawrence.house@state.co.us
Lois Court Member 6 Democratic - lois.court.house@state.co.us
Buckner, John W Member 40 Democratic - john.buckner.house@state.co.us
 
Old 01-19-2013, 07:54 PM
 
5,091 posts, read 13,165,370 times
Reputation: 6912
" We have a crisis in this state of people avoiding marriage. They are avoiding marriage because the Colorado Family Law system has proven to be the most abusive in the country, and people are fed up with it. This frustration applies to both men and women. Marriage among people under 35 has fallen precipitously, and the rate of second marriages have fallen even more. The raw statistics show Colorado is about in the middle as far as rate of marriage, but Colorado is a destination wedding state, just like Hawaii. If you were able to subtract out the destination weddings, Colorado would likely be in the bottom five for marriage rates..."


You began your post with this paragraph and stating that there is a crisis. Why is avoiding marriage a crisis? Why would it be a concern if people are not getting married? What is a problem that second marriages have fallen off?

I do not think there is any problem or crisis. People are not necessarily avoiding marriage because of the alimony issue and even if that is the case-why is it a problem. I do not believe that marriage is always necessary for society's welfare. Perhaps it is good for raising children but marriage is not needed to make more children--we have enough already. Perhaps a falloff of second marriage is an advantage to people and society. Single man and woman are also an advantage to society. Those who never marry also contribute to society and do not need marriage to make them better citizens.

The alimony issue is another problem and perhaps it must be fixed but it does not need to be fixed to encourage more marriages. People in love are not avoiding marriage because of the alimony issue, as most would not even consider that a divorce would occur. Most first married think it will last forever because that is the nature of love. Even if there parents and friends warned them--they would be in love.

Most others would not be aware of this legal issue of alimony, unless they were married before and then, of course, second marriages may be impacted but again sometimes people think that love will prevail, a second time around. If they choose not to marry again, I would not consider that a problem; I would consider the individual as mature and smart and have learned from the experience and society would not be poorer for it. Certainly the first spouse and the children of that marriage would benefit by the divorced parent not being encumbered by a second marriage parental and financial obligations.

If your premise is correct which I doubt in all cases, then avoiding marriage is assured way of avoiding your alleged evils of this State's alimony laws--so why is that solution a problem?

Livecontent

Last edited by livecontent; 01-19-2013 at 08:09 PM..
 
Old 01-20-2013, 09:06 AM
Status: "October is the eighth month" (set 19 days ago)
 
Location: Just south of Denver since 1989
10,676 posts, read 28,491,129 times
Reputation: 6842
There is already a law about spousal maintenance for households with less than $50,000 income. This just gives the court the proper direction for middle class families.

I hope it passes.
 
Old 01-20-2013, 10:46 AM
 
599 posts, read 802,731 times
Reputation: 579
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2bindenver View Post
There is already a law about spousal maintenance for households with less than $50,000 income. This just gives the court the proper direction for middle class families.

I hope it passes.

So, do you really think a default judgement of 40% of someone's gross income for life in alimony is a "proper direction?"

People have this cartoon image of a poor old woman who stayed at home for 30 years and whose husband traded her in for a younger model, deserving lifetime alimony. This is far, far from the profile of alimony recipients in Colorado in 2013.

The vast majority of alimony recipients in Colorado are employed, healthy, and living with someone instead of marrying, in order to keep the alimony going.

People need to quit imagining their poor Aunt Hilda, and start worrying about their daughters 20 years from now. The majority of college degrees are now awarded to women, and women are the higher earners in over 30% of marriages now. As that number continues to increase, more and more women have been forced into paying alimony, and that trend will continue.

Let me give you a real life example of how the current law is terrible, and how the new law will make things even worse.

A woman I work with is a very experienced tech worker, and makes over $100K per year. Let's call it $100K to make the math easy. She was married for 25 years to a guy who was also a tech worker, but who decided about 10 years ago to quit his job and do consulting work. Thus, he had no benefits, so he was on her insurance, etc.

He did OK for a few years, not matching her, but making enough to get their kids into college. When the economy cratered in 2008, he lost both of his consulting gigs. He didn't try very hard to find new employment. After a couple of years of he being unemployed, it turned out that their nest egg and his savings were completely exhausted, mysteriously.

Long story short, over a four year period, her husband had spent about $100,000 on drugs, hookers, electronics, wrecking HER car, and a new girlfriend. She filed for divorce under the current law, which resulted in her being ordered to pay 40% of her gross ($40,000), plus all of his legal fees, plus his health insurance, during the divorce proceedings. He wanted alimony, she fought it. In the end, she gave him 75% of the marital assets as a buyout to keep her from paying lifetime alimony. She got the debt and a $40,000 legal bill. He bought a house, moved his "secret" girlfriend he had been boinking for five years into the house, and is living off of what used to be her 401K. She is hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, and renting a place with virtually no hope of buying any time soon, because he also ruined her credit on the way out the door.

Sounds bad? Well guess what? If the NEW bill had been law at the time of her divorce, in addition to taking the debt and the legal bills, she would ALSO be paying this guy $40,000 a year in alimony for THE REST OF HER LIFE. Think about how that would feel. Think about this being YOUR daughter.

Now seriously, do you really think this is the "proper direction?"
 
Old 01-20-2013, 10:58 AM
Status: "October is the eighth month" (set 19 days ago)
 
Location: Just south of Denver since 1989
10,676 posts, read 28,491,129 times
Reputation: 6842
Why is getting a divorce in Colorado for middle class families ending with the secondary wage earner living in poverty? Because the Court could care less about the economic conditions of the devastated family left to their own devices to survive. The Court often tells the lower wage earner they too can be successful. I think itís fair to ask how. It does not matter if the primary wage earner lies, cheats, and steals; there is no recourse from the Court. Justice? Fairness? Equality? There is no justness in the justice system for a low wage earner in a divorce.

What is the purpose of Maintenance? Are we to believe the purpose of alimony to be to get someone on their feet and to become self-sustaining? Then, there should be no option to make this contractual and eliminated. In this case, my case, the Petitioner economic status is considered upper middle class, earning over $100,000 a year. The Respondent during the divorce proceedings, and after was assigned to the lower class. No temporary maintenance was awarded at the temporary orders hearing.

Income of less than $32,000 is considered working class, below the poverty line. The Respondent was assigned 50% of the debt, and had 20% of the income at the final orders hearing. The Respondent was also imputed income she has not made. Despite overwhelming proof, a change in support is deserved, the Court has not changed child support, and most recently the Court allowed the Petitioner not to pay minor childís medical bills, including a trip to the ER, a tonsillectomy and allowed the Respondent to pay 70% of the minor childís braces, no matter the Petitionerís insurance covered half of the cost.

Judge Cross told me to stop playing the victim. Can you imagine, the Court sided strongly with the Petitioner, am I not a victim? Can you imagine the Petitioner said he did not agree that the minor child needed braces or her tonsillectomy? He does not deserve to have joint medical decision making.

In the 6 years since the household was separated, the Petitioner has earned over $600,000 the Respondent with children, $83,500. Amount of Maintenance paid $11,000. One thousand dollars a month before Judge Arkin declared it was contractual and non-modifiable. No discussion about what this meant to me. It was done, and despite Judge Crossís willingness to review the situation, nothing changed.

Most recently, the Respondent was declared in Contempt of Court for failing to get a home loan, when Maintenance was eliminated and the Respondent was forced to complete Bankruptcy. Yes, indeed, getting divorced in Colorado means Bankruptcy without maintenance.

Our minor child can testify that her father does not communicate, or complete his court ordered visitation.
Our eldest daughter can testify that the Petitioner asked her to raise her sister in the event that Judge Cross ordered me to jail for failure to get a loan. Of course, he would give her money every month to do so. Our son can testify that the Respondent hid a significant amount of money prior to our final orders hearing.

The damage done to these children is not comprehensible.

Since the Respondent has two chronic medical conditions, Respondent cannot obtain health insurance at a reasonable cost. Respondent bears the burden of full medical, prescription and vision charges. In my case, the reason I donít take prescribed medication is because I cannot afford it and food. I live every day with the thought that this divorce will be the cause of my death.

Please pass HB 13-1058.
 
Old 01-20-2013, 11:28 AM
 
Location: Colorado Springs
4,320 posts, read 4,350,986 times
Reputation: 15239
So I learned two things from reading this:

1. Stay single.

2. Don't become a lawyer.
 
Old 01-20-2013, 12:41 PM
 
599 posts, read 802,731 times
Reputation: 579
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2bindenver View Post
Why is getting a divorce in Colorado for middle class families ending with the secondary wage earner living in poverty? Because the Court could care less about the economic conditions of the devastated family left to their own devices to survive. The Court often tells the lower wage earner they too can be successful. I think itís fair to ask how. It does not matter if the primary wage earner lies, cheats, and steals; there is no recourse from the Court. Justice? Fairness? Equality? There is no justness in the justice system for a low wage earner in a divorce.

What is the purpose of Maintenance? Are we to believe the purpose of alimony to be to get someone on their feet and to become self-sustaining? Then, there should be no option to make this contractual and eliminated. In this case, my case, the Petitioner economic status is considered upper middle class, earning over $100,000 a year. The Respondent during the divorce proceedings, and after was assigned to the lower class. No temporary maintenance was awarded at the temporary orders hearing.

Income of less than $32,000 is considered working class, below the poverty line. The Respondent was assigned 50% of the debt, and had 20% of the income at the final orders hearing. The Respondent was also imputed income she has not made. Despite overwhelming proof, a change in support is deserved, the Court has not changed child support, and most recently the Court allowed the Petitioner not to pay minor childís medical bills, including a trip to the ER, a tonsillectomy and allowed the Respondent to pay 70% of the minor childís braces, no matter the Petitionerís insurance covered half of the cost.

Judge Cross told me to stop playing the victim. Can you imagine, the Court sided strongly with the Petitioner, am I not a victim? Can you imagine the Petitioner said he did not agree that the minor child needed braces or her tonsillectomy? He does not deserve to have joint medical decision making.

In the 6 years since the household was separated, the Petitioner has earned over $600,000 the Respondent with children, $83,500. Amount of Maintenance paid $11,000. One thousand dollars a month before Judge Arkin declared it was contractual and non-modifiable. No discussion about what this meant to me. It was done, and despite Judge Crossís willingness to review the situation, nothing changed.

Most recently, the Respondent was declared in Contempt of Court for failing to get a home loan, when Maintenance was eliminated and the Respondent was forced to complete Bankruptcy. Yes, indeed, getting divorced in Colorado means Bankruptcy without maintenance.

Our minor child can testify that her father does not communicate, or complete his court ordered visitation.
Our eldest daughter can testify that the Petitioner asked her to raise her sister in the event that Judge Cross ordered me to jail for failure to get a loan. Of course, he would give her money every month to do so. Our son can testify that the Respondent hid a significant amount of money prior to our final orders hearing.

The damage done to these children is not comprehensible.

Since the Respondent has two chronic medical conditions, Respondent cannot obtain health insurance at a reasonable cost. Respondent bears the burden of full medical, prescription and vision charges. In my case, the reason I donít take prescribed medication is because I cannot afford it and food. I live every day with the thought that this divorce will be the cause of my death.

Please pass HB 13-1058.
Your post shows either you are trolling, or you don't understand your divorce settlement.

Judges in Colorado *do not* arbitrarily make alimony contractual and non-modifiable. In fact, if that happened to you, you have grounds for an appeal. That is simply never done in a ruling handed down by a judge. I seriously doubt you ever had non-modifiable, because you later said the alimony was eliminated. This is not legally possible if the award truly was designated non-modifiable. They only way a non-modifiable award can be terminated is on the remarriage of the recipient, or the death of one of the parties. Period. They throw people in jail in Colorado every day for not making non-modifiable alimony payments. You clearly are not telling us the whole story.

You also are either clearly confused about the difference between alimony and child support, or you just brought your child support woes into the discussion to try to garner sympathy. Alimony and child support are *separate* issues.

I suspect the reality of your situation is that either you agreed to a settlement, and now have sour grapes about it, or you were given a HUGE percentage of the marital assets by the judge in your settlement, and thus, lower alimony. It is *very* unusual for a judge to make a statement about someone playing the victim.

I will agree with you about it not mattering if the primary wage earner lies, cheats and steals. It also doesn't matter if the lower earner lies, cheats and steals, as my post above illustrates. Colorado decided decades ago to remove "marital conduct" from the determination of financial issues. If you don't like that, why don't you write to the Judicial committee considering reform and TELL THEM that?

I'd like to make something perfectly clear for people reading this post who do not understand the reality of alimony. Alimony *is* *not* child support. Child support is an entirely different issue, and has different rules and procedures. Alimony is awarded even when there are no children in the marriage, and it is awarded completely independently of child support.
 
Old 01-20-2013, 01:09 PM
 
599 posts, read 802,731 times
Reputation: 579
Quote:
Originally Posted by livecontent View Post
" We have a crisis in this state of people avoiding marriage. They are avoiding marriage because the Colorado Family Law system has proven to be the most abusive in the country, and people are fed up with it. This frustration applies to both men and women. Marriage among people under 35 has fallen precipitously, and the rate of second marriages have fallen even more. The raw statistics show Colorado is about in the middle as far as rate of marriage, but Colorado is a destination wedding state, just like Hawaii. If you were able to subtract out the destination weddings, Colorado would likely be in the bottom five for marriage rates..."


You began your post with this paragraph and stating that there is a crisis. Why is avoiding marriage a crisis? Why would it be a concern if people are not getting married? What is a problem that second marriages have fallen off?

I do not think there is any problem or crisis. People are not necessarily avoiding marriage because of the alimony issue and even if that is the case-why is it a problem. I do not believe that marriage is always necessary for society's welfare. Perhaps it is good for raising children but marriage is not needed to make more children--we have enough already. Perhaps a falloff of second marriage is an advantage to people and society. Single man and woman are also an advantage to society. Those who never marry also contribute to society and do not need marriage to make them better citizens.

The alimony issue is another problem and perhaps it must be fixed but it does not need to be fixed to encourage more marriages. People in love are not avoiding marriage because of the alimony issue, as most would not even consider that a divorce would occur. Most first married think it will last forever because that is the nature of love. Even if there parents and friends warned them--they would be in love.

Most others would not be aware of this legal issue of alimony, unless they were married before and then, of course, second marriages may be impacted but again sometimes people think that love will prevail, a second time around. If they choose not to marry again, I would not consider that a problem; I would consider the individual as mature and smart and have learned from the experience and society would not be poorer for it. Certainly the first spouse and the children of that marriage would benefit by the divorced parent not being encumbered by a second marriage parental and financial obligations.

If your premise is correct which I doubt in all cases, then avoiding marriage is assured way of avoiding your alleged evils of this State's alimony laws--so why is that solution a problem?

Livecontent
You say the alimony issue is not preventing people from getting married. Then we have a post on here from someone saying they are going to avoid marriage because of alimony. Google around for about ten seconds and you'll find the reality:

Couples Avoid Marriage Because They Fear Divorce | Marriage Rates, Young Adult Relationships & Divorce | LiveScience



"For these female partners, the benefits to marriage were slimmer ó they would get an extra person to look after but not an extra provider. Since working-class women are often the main breadwinners, they were more likely to worry that marriages would be harder and costly to exit. So they preferred to regard their relationship as impermanent."

Read more: Young Couples Say No to Marriage for Fear of Divorce | TIME.com



The majority of children born to women under 30 are now born outside of marriage. The devastating effects of this are already rolling through society. Ever wonder why 1 in 4 children is on food stamps? Yes, that is the actual statistic: ONE in FOUR children in this country are eating from food stamps. The vast majority of these children are in single parent families. The irony is that they are also in living situations where there is a man and a woman, but because either the mother or father had a fear of marriage, they never married the parent of their child, and moved on. Thus, children end up being partially raised by a succession of live-in boyfriends and girlfriends. I have a couple of relatives who raised their kids this way. It is *terrible* for the children, and now that those kids are adults, all but one has serious issues. Stability is the key. Even if there is a divorce, having a stable stepparent proves to be almost as good for the children. The problem is that not only are many people not marrying in the first place, but if they do marry and then divorce, they almost *never* remarry. Why should they if they are receiving massive alimony that they would lose if they remarry? Or, as is often the case today, they are PAYING massive alimony to the non-custodial parent, and will never be put in that situation again. So we see the revolving door of live-ins and instability, a situation caused on multiple levels by the abusive Family Law statues, especially in Colorado.




 
Old 01-20-2013, 01:19 PM
 
352 posts, read 563,875 times
Reputation: 306
I built a house for a 30-something couple years ago. They were lucky enough to have benefited bigtime from the dot.com boom and were doing real well. The wife, this was her first marriage. Nice big expensive house.

At the same time another friend had just gotten his second divorce. I asked him is he going to get married again and he laughed and said "heck no, I can't keep giving away half" to his non-working former wives.

I mentioned that story to the wife of the big expensive house I was building. She looked at me in amazement and said "it's not about the money..." I said oh yes it is.
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