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  • Jill Russell

When Can I Stop Paying Maintenance?

In accordance with C.R.S. 14-10-122(2), the spousal maintenance obligation generally ends when the recipient spouse remarries.

If that remarriage ends by annulment, the Colorado Supreme Court has held that the prior maintenance obligation may be reinstated. In re: Marriage of Cargill, 843 P.2d 1335 (Colo. 1993).

The spouses divorced after a 13-year marriage in Cargill, and the husband had a 6-year maintenance obligation. The wife remarried 3 years later, thus completing the first husband's maintenance obligation. However, that remarriage was ended by annulment only a year later, with the court finding the wife's new husband committed fraud which went to the essence of the marriage.

The first husband's maintenance obligation was reinstated by the trial court from the first marriage, but the Court of Appeals reversed on the grounds that the word "remarriage" in C.R.S. 14-10-122(2) meant the act of remarrying, even if that remarriage ended in annulment.

The deeply-divided Colorado Supreme Court reversed, holding that "remarriage" did not just mean participating in the ceremony of marriage, but meant the status of being married. Because the marriage was void, effectively it never happened, so maintenance could be reinstated.

Maintenance does not automatically get reinstatement upon an annulment of the remarriage, because the first husband could have moved on, and made decisions based upon the understanding he would no longer have a maintenance obligation. Instead, the Court is required to consider a variety of factors when considering whether to reinstate spousal maintenance - including:

  • length of the second marriage;

  • whether the annulment was proper or some form of collusion between the spouses;

  • whether the spouse was receiving maintenance from the invalidated second marriage;

  • the parties financial circumstances.

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