Economic Fault - Financial Decisions Before a Divorce

Economic Fault - Financial Decisions Before a Divorce

Questions Regarding Financial Decisions Prior to Divorce

As a family law attorney, I receive calls and questions almost every day about the divorce process. Recently, I have noticed that many of the questions have been about financial decisions in the months leading up to a possible divorce.

People wonder what “rules” exist related to the financial situation of married couples once the marriage has broken down and divorce appears inevitable. One call was about a husband who took all of the family money out of a joint checking account. Another question concerned a wife who threatened to sell the car she drove but that is in the husband’s name. This article will shed light on these pre-divorce financial issues and will hopefully provide some guidance for individuals contemplating divorce.

Can Influence How Marital Property is Distributed in the Divorce

When the parties of a divorce cannot decide on how to divide their marital assets and debts in Colorado, the judge will ultimately order an equitable (fair) distribution of marital property and marital debt. After a couple gets married, most assets accumulated during the course of their marriage are considered marital property. As marital property, either spouse can generally spend the family money or dispose of the family assets however they want. Generally, a judge will distribute the couple’s marital property without taking irresponsible pre-divorce financial decisions into consideration. However, in certain situations, a judge will consider economic fault when distributing marital property at a final divorce hearing.

The Importance of Retaining Legal Representation

Most cases involving economic fault are situations where a spouse will dissipate a marital asset in contemplation of divorce. If, for example, a husband decides to sell a marital car in the month before he plans on filing for divorce, and then he gambles the money away in an effort to ensure his wife won’t get any of it, a judge may consider that economic fault. But, since there is no guarantee a judge will find an irresponsible financial decision to be economic fault. The best advice for individuals planning on getting divorced is to obtain an attorney and start the process.

Filing For a Divorce Limits Access to Marital Assets

Once the divorce process begins and the other party has been notified, an automatic temporary injunction prohibits either spouse from making withdrawals, transfers, or in any way disposing of marital money or assets outside the normal course of life or business, without the consent of the other party. That protection does not exist prior to filing for a divorce. If an individual is concerned about the financial misconduct of their spouse in anticipation of a divorce, they need to consult with an attorney and file for divorce in order to gain the protection of the temporary injunction against financial misconduct.


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