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In re the Marriage of Cerrone.

2021 COA 116. No. 20CA0816.  CRS § 14-10-122(2)(a)(III)—Maintenance Obligation—Nonmodification Clause.

August 26, 2021

The district court approved the parties’ separation agreement and incorporated it into their dissolution decree. Three years later, husband moved for a declaratory judgment that his maintenance obligation had automatically terminated by operation of law as of wife’s remarriage. A magistrate denied the motion, finding the maintenance obligation in the decree nonmodifiable. The district court affirmed.

On appeal, husband contended that the magistrate and the district court erred by ruling that his obligation to pay wife maintenance continued after her remarriage rather than automatically terminating under CRS § 14-10-122(2)(a)(III). The mere presence of a nonmodification clause is not sufficient to overcome the statutory presumption that maintenance ends on the recipient spouse’s remarriage; to avoid termination of maintenance by operation of law under CRS § 14-10-122(2)(a)(III), a separation agreement or decree must include an express provision that maintenance will continue even if the spouse remarries. Here, the language in the separation agreement is insufficiently clear to require husband to continue paying maintenance after wife remarried. Therefore, the magistrate and district court erred by interpreting the parties’ separation agreement to require husband to continue paying wife maintenance after her remarriage.

The order was reversed and the case was remanded with instructions to terminate husband’s obligation to pay maintenance and to determine the amount she must reimburse him.

Official Colorado Court of Appeals proceedings can be found at the Colorado Court of Appeals website.

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