One of the most important aspects of any marriage is the division of marital assets. So, how is property divided in a divorce? Before moving forward with a divorce in Colorado you should strive to have a solid understanding of how property division works in this state. It is important for you to know that if you are able to work to divide assets with your spouse during mediation you will be able to maintain far greater control over the result than if you go to trial. If you do not have an agreement in place before standing in front of a judge then they will split your assets in a manner that follows the property division guidelines of the state.
The better your grasp on how divorce and property division work in Colorado, the better prepared you will be to protect your best interests and defend your legal rights. Fortunately, you do not need to fully understand divorce law in order to protect yourself. Hiring an experienced property division attorney with a track record of success with divorce cases is the best move you can make. Our divorce lawyers at The Law Office of Jeanne M. Wilson & Associates will treat both you and your case with the respect you deserve and will fight for your best interests throughout your divorce. Call us today to schedule an initial consultation for your case.
How Equitable Distribution Works
There is no nationwide standard when it comes to property division. Each state has its own laws dictating how marital assets will be divided. In Colorado, the law stipulates that the division of marital property must be "equitable and fair". This is important because while other states require the property to be divided cleanly in half, Colorado does not.
The best option for dividing property is always for the couple to come to a mutually beneficial agreement. For obvious reasons, this is not always a realistic option. In those cases, the judge ruling over your case will determine how the marital property is to be divided. In order for the judge to decide what division will be fair and equitable they will need to review several factors, including:
- The financial status of both spouses
- The change in property ownership for each spouse over the course of the marriage
- If the parent with custody wants to continue living in the family home
- The status of any marital debt
By understanding these and other important variables, the judge will be able to create a fair and equitable division of your marital estate. They will review the economic situation involved in your divorce as well as how it will impact each spouse, assess individual and joint marital funds, property, and other assets, and use this to inform the division process. That's why it is imperative to hire a skilled Colorado Springs divorce lawyer today.
What is Marital Property?
Colorado views any property that is obtained during a marriage as marital property. This is generally true regardless of who's name is on the title, with some exceptions such as property acquired prior to the marriage. This covers the usual things people tend to think of in divorces such as the home and vehicles but also includes:
- Investment and Retirement Accounts
- Real Estate
- Bank Accounts
- Personal Property and Pets
If you and your spouse are able to compromise at this stage you will be able to decide with one another how best to separate assets. If not a judge will determine how best to split your marital assets and will assign them to one spouse or the other.
Determining Separate and Marital Property
Filing for a Colorado divorce places property into two distinct types: separate and marital. Separate property is any assets or debts that existed prior to the marriage and belonged to either spouse. There can be more exceptions to this if the couple signed a prenuptial agreement, but in general, this is how the state of Colorado defines separate property. Keep in mind that if any separate property appreciates in value during the marriage, the increase in value is considered to be marital property.
Marital property includes any assets or debts that were acquired during the marriage. Real estate, vehicles, bank accounts, and investments are some of the most common types of marital property, but they certainly do not make up an exhaustive list. When the judge divides your property they will split marital property between each spouse, but may not do so with separate property.
The distinction between the two may not be so cut and dry, however. Commingling is what occurs when separate and marital properties become mixed. A common example of this is a private bank account being shared after the marriage. With so much at stake, it is hardly surprising that property division is often one of the most difficult parts of the divorce to resolve. It may be in your best interest to turn to the help of an experienced family law attorney to ensure your best interests are being represented.
Dividing Marital Property
In theory, the easiest way to divide marital property is for both spouses to work together to determine who will take what from the marriage. This also provides more flexibility for each spouse to get what they want from the separation. Marital debt also has to be divided, so any outstanding debts will need to be assigned to one spouse or the other. Obviously, this is not something that will work for many divorcing couples, and if you cannot compromise on property division with your spouse then a family court judge will determine how it will be split.
They will review the finances and other economic circumstances of the married couple and determine what separation of property is equitable and fair. When their decision has been made they will issue a court order to assign the property to one spouse or the other.
In either event, you will want experienced legal representation to guide you through the process. A talented attorney will know the best approach for your particular situation and can assist you in negotiations or in building your case to the judge.
Can I Stay in the House During the Divorce?
Unless you are legally barred from entering the property you are within your rights to continue living in the marital home until the divorce has been finalized. The other spouse cannot legally force you out of the house without obtaining an order against you. If you wish to move out of the house, however, there is nothing preventing you from doing so.
Do You Need Help with Property Division in Colorado?
If you are considering a divorce then one of your first steps should be finding a skilled Colorado divorce lawyer. The division of assets can be a heated and highly contentious area for many couples. Unless you and your spouse already have a valid agreement, such as a prenuptial agreement, in place dictating the fair division of property, then the best way to protect your rights is to turn to an experienced divorce attorney for legal advice.
Whether you are concerned about your retirement plan, savings account, family home, or any other property obtained throughout the course of your marriage, our attorneys at The Law Office of Jeanne M. Wilson & Associates are available to answer all of your legal questions. The process is complicated and matters of property division are frequently difficult to manage. Our divorce lawyers have experience negotiating fair asset division for our clients, as well as representing them during a hearing. We will walk you through all of your legal options and fight for you throughout the divorce process. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.