Unlike some states that divide marital property 50/50 during divorce, Colorado has “equitable distribution” between divorcing couples. According to the court, “equitable” means “fair but not necessarily equal.”
How does the court determine what is equitable for you and your spouse? Here is an overview.
Process Of Dividing Marital Assets In Colorado
If you and your spouse are amicable, you may be able to divide your property by yourselves and avoid going to court for this. The two of you can then enter your mutual decision in a signed Marital Settlement Agreement, which the judge may incorporate into the final divorce decree.
Divorcing spouses don’t always agree on splitting their assets. They may have disputes about each other’s economic position, future needs, and the rights to certain property. If you and your spouse cannot arrive at a separation agreement, the division of your marital property will be up to the court.
This is the general process that Colorado family courts follow in dividing marital property:
- The court distinguishes between marital property and separate property. Each spouse will get to keep their respective separate property – it will not be included in the division. To classify which assets are marital (shared), the court will initiate an information-gathering stage called discovery. (See our overview of marital property vs. separate property here.)
- The court assesses the value of each article considered to be marital property.
- The court distributes the marital assets between the spouses. To ensure that the distribution is equitable, the judge will consider a number of factors around the property and the marriage (see these factors below).
Court litigation is usually considered as a last resort when it comes to divorce property disputes. Before any court date, a Colorado judge may prescribe an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) such as mediation. This method may help you and your spouse find agreeable ways to divide your property without a complicated courtroom trial.
Factors Considered In Marital Property Division
When a judge decides on the equitable division of marital assets, he or she examines relevant factors such as:
- The economic situation of each spouse
- The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the property
- Any increase or decrease in property value during marriage
- The usage of separate property for marital purposes
- Expenses for children.
Does Marital Misconduct Affect Division Of Marital Property?
Many divorcing spouses ask if their marital misconduct will affect their share of the property. For instance, will infidelity reduce an unfaithful spouse’s share? In Colorado, the answer is generally no. Colorado is a “no-fault” state when it comes to divorce, meaning that the court does not look at whose fault the divorce was. This is true even during division of property.
An extramarital affair may, however, still have an impact on the division. For instance, it may be considered a breach of a prenuptial agreement. The other spouse may also claim that their adulterous partner spent a chunk of their marital assets on extramarital gifts and trips. If established, this will likely reduce the unfaithful spouse’s share of the marital property.
The distribution of marital assets involves numerous legalities that can quickly become complicated. It is best that you approach a family law attorney to protect your rights in this legal maze and avoid costly confusion. At Goldman Law, our family lawyers are experienced in complex divorce cases and are ready to help you with property division.