The marital home may be a married couple’s most valuable possession. It creates a powerful emotional bond especially if it is the same house they’ve had when they got married or purchased after the wedding. In the event of a divorce, the most difficult decision to make is who keeps the house in a divorce in Colorado and who moves out of the home.
Although there are many matters to settle in a divorce, the division of assets and property can be the most challenging. Divorcing couples in Colorado have a number of choices to help settle the issue of who gets what. If the couple cannot reach an agreeable settlement, the court then determines how to divide the assets in a fair manner.
Equitable Distribution of Property – What It Means
When it comes to divorce, a state abides by either community or equitable distribution property laws. In a state that follows community property laws, the couple divide their assets in half which qualifies them to receive exactly half the equity in the marital home. For states that adopt equitable distribution property laws, the court will separate the property in an equitable or fair manner, but not necessarily dividing it equally.
Colorado adopts the equitable distribution of property model. Instead of dividing the assets equally between the parties, the court decides who receives a fair share.
How the Court Decide Who Keeps the House in a Divorce in Colorado
The court takes into consideration several factors to determine how to “fairly and equitably” to divide the assets. The factors to look at may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Each party’s financial contribution and/or investment to the home during marriage
- Each party’s age
- Each party’s physical and mental health
- Each party’s educational level, employability, and earning capacity
- Each party’s financial situation
- A valid prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement, with terms regarding who gets the house in the event of a divorce
- How other properties and assets have been divided beforehand
- Marital transgression of either party
- Who has custody of any minor-age children
- The lifestyle to which a spouse and any children have become accustomed
- How parenting (custody) time is divided
- Where the marital home gets its funds
- What the marital home is worth
The divorce judge will also look at the number of years the couple has been married. There are cases, for instance, where one party may give up their schooling or job to give way to the other party’s job or schooling. The judge can take these factors into consideration as well to help reach a decision.
The date the marital home was acquired is vital. A property is generally considered as separate property if it was acquired before the wedding or if it was received as a gift or inheritance. As a rule, divorcing couples get to keep their own separate property.
The judge can also decide whether a court ordered sale of the house is appropriate, the proceeds then to be divided.
Do You Really Want to Keep the House?
If you are going through a divorce and are not sure whether keeping the house is a good thing for you or not, ask yourself these questions to help you make a decision.
- Do you actually need all that space in the house or should you downsize?
- Do you want to remain in the house so your children won’t have to change schools?
- Is your house in a location where it will be easy to sell if and when needed?
- Is the mortgage affordably low in comparison to what it would cost to buy another house?
- Apart from the mortgage, can you afford to pay for the house’s upkeep, homeowner fees, taxes, maintenance and repair with a single income?
- Can you afford to refinance your home even without your spouse’s financial support?
When to Consult a Lawyer
While couples in Colorado do not need to retain a lawyer to file for divorce, it is always helpful to discuss your legal options with a skilled attorney. You need to be absolutely sure that you are making the right decisions during this emotional period.
A divorce attorney can advise you on what steps may best result in getting a fair share of property in your divorce settlement. Most importantly, a lawyer will counsel you on the matter of who keeps the house, the central subject of dispute in the majority of divorces. Before making any life-changing decisions, speak to a divorce lawyer to find out what legal options exist and how to use them. Call Goldman Law today at (303) 656-9529 for a consultation.