One of the reasons why divorce is so complicated is because spouses have to determine how to divide their assets and debts. By assets, we’re referring to all income, cash and property acquired during the course of the marriage, such as 401(k) accounts, family homes, automobiles, life insurance policies, etc.
If you are headed for divorce, the thought of severing your financial ties may seem daunting, and it can be, which is why it’s so important that you work with an experienced divorce attorney who has your best interests at heart.
What are your rights to marital property under Colorado’s divorce laws? Colorado divides marital property under the method of “equitable distribution.”
Unlike community property states, such as California and Nevada where the marital estate is split 50/50 down the middle, the Colorado courts decide on a division that is equitable and fair depending on the circumstances of the case.
Ideally, you and your spouse, with the guidance of your respective attorneys will reach a satisfactory settlement. If you and your spouse are unable to reach an agreement, the court will have to decide for you. In deciding what type of property division is fair, the judge would consider the following:
- The income and assets of both spouses,
- Whether the family home should be awarded to the parent with custody of the couple’s children,
- If a spouse’s marital property has increased or decreased in value during the marriage,
- If a spouse’s separate property was depleted due to marital purposes, and
- The value of each spouse’s separate property.
Separate vs. Marital Property
The first order of business will be to determine which property is separate and which property is part of the marital estate and therefore subject to division.
“Marital” property generally refers to all assets acquired during the marriage regardless of who earned them or whose name is on title. In contrast, “separate” property is property acquired before the marriage or property received in the form of a gift or inheritance.
Let’s say that you owned a home before your marriage. Over the course of your 10-year marriage, your $100,000 home doubled in value to $200,000. In that case, the first $100,000 would be considered separate property, however, the increase in value – the $100,000 – would be considered marital property.
If you wanted to claim the first $100,000 as your separate property, you would need to supply financial records or other documents that could substantiate your claim.
Sometimes assets become co-mingled, meaning the separate and marital property are combined. This commonly occurs with retirement accounts established before the marriage, but contributed to for years after the marriage, all the more demonstrating the importance of having experienced legal counsel.
If you need a Denver divorce attorney, reach out toJones Law Firm, PC for a free consultation!