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Colorado physicians may owe spousal maintenance in a divorce

Becoming a licensed physician is a huge accomplishment. To become a doctor in Colorado, one must go through years of schooling to earn a medical degree, complete a residency and obtain a license to practice medicine. It is not easy to complete all these steps, but oftentimes one's hard work pays off when they are able to earn a high salary as a practicing physician.

Some people going through medical school do so with the help of a spouse. For example, the burgeoning physician's spouse might work to pay for their partner's schooling. Then, once their partner becomes a practicing physician, they may stay out of the workforce to care for the family, so their partner can focus on their career. Sometimes this means a spouse gives up his or her own career prospects for the sake of his or her partner.

So, what happens if a married couple in such a situation decides to divorce? The non-physician spouse will be in a precarious financial situation. They may have given up career opportunities to support the physician-spouse, and now they find themselves in a position where they must find a job after years of staying out of the workforce. Sometimes this means they'll have to go back to school or receive other training in order to obtain a job that will allow them to support themselves financially.

Therefore, it may be the case that the physician-spouse will have to pay the non-physician spouse spousal maintenance. Not all awards of spousal maintenance are permanent, however. Sometimes a person will be awarded spousal maintenance only for as long as it takes for them to obtain a job that allows them to support themselves. Therefore, their payments may decrease over time.

It is important that in a high-asset divorce the final decree is fair to both parties. An award of spousal maintenance should be enough to support the receiving spouse without financially draining the paying spouse. Oftentimes, spousal maintenance is necessary to help one spouse get back on their feet financially. Therefore, if a spouse is seeking spousal maintenance, it is important that they understand what they are entitled to under the law.

Source: mdmag.com, "One Spouse Is a Physician; The Other Is Not," Douglas R. York, Nov. 10, 2017

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