Getting “half of everything” doesn’t automatically happen in Colorado divorce. Colorado is an “equitable distribution” state where marital assets are divided between spouses according to what’s equitable or fair. This doesn’t always mean splitting property into equal halves. Even if you’ve been married for a long time, several other factors could influence the equitable division of your marital property. Here’s an overview of how it works.
Does Length of Marriage Affect How Property is Divided in Colorado?
The short answer is, it depends. Some divorcing couples are able to agree between themselves on how to split their marital property. If they choose to, they may factor in the length of their marriage in deciding who gets how much. Many other couples, however, cannot come to a property division agreement, and have to let the court decide on how to divide their marital property.
If your Colorado divorce goes to court, the judge has to consider a number of factors in determining an equitable division of your marital assets. These factors include, but are not limited to:
- Each spouse’s contribution in acquiring the marital property (“contribution” includes being a homemaker)
- Each spouse’s economic circumstances
- Whether the marital home may be awarded to the spouse who has primary custody of the children
- Any increase or decrease in each spouse’s own separate property for the benefit of the marriage.
“Length of marriage” is not one of the factors enumerated in Colorado’s property division law (Colorado Revised Statutes 14-10-113). However, the law allows judges to use their discretion in considering other details relevant to dividing marital property. For instance, a judge may find that a couple who’s been married for many decades has built both of their lives together and that each one of them deserves half of what they accumulated.
Again, divorce property division depends on several factors, which may or may not include duration of marriage. This will be decided on a case-by-case basis. To learn what you may be entitled to in your particular divorce, consult an experienced Colorado divorce lawyer.
Property Division Under Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement
A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement may make divorce property division easier and clearer. These agreements can outline in advance how the couple’s marital assets and debts are to be divided in the event of divorce.
A prenup could, for example, specify that the couple has to be married at least 20 years before each spouse is entitled to 50 percent of their marital assets. The document could also state which spouse gets the house, the car, and other valuable property. Such provisions depend entirely on what the couple mutually decides when creating the prenup or postnup.
If you have a prenup or postnup agreement – or if you’re still considering one – the court will examine whether its contents are enforceable upon divorce. Get an attorney’s help to ensure your agreement is precisely worded and can be made legally binding.
Does Length of Marriage Affect Alimony in Colorado?
Yes, length of marriage is a key factor in determining the amount of spousal maintenance (alimony) and how long it lasts in Colorado. State law has recommended formulas for calculating alimony amount if the marriage lasted at least three years:
- If alimony payment is taxable, the formula is 40 percent of both parties’ combined adjusted gross incomes, minus the lower-earning spouse’s adjusted gross income.
- If alimony is nontaxable, the formula is the same as above then multiplied by 80 percent.
These formulas are only recommended guidelines, which means judges can decide whether or not to use them. Also note that these formulas may be applied only if the marriage duration was at least three years. Marriages shorter than that typically don’t result in alimony, except if the judge finds an extenuating circumstance (such as financial difficulty on the part of one spouse).
The duration of marriage is also a common basis for how long alimony will last. In most cases, the court uses the “Anderson formula,” which states that alimony should last one-third of the length of the marriage. If the marriage lasted more than 20 years, the alimony term increases to half the length of marriage. If the couple was married more than 30 years, the court will be more inclined to award permanent alimony.
Of course, other factors should be considered by the judge when making alimony decisions. The main purpose of alimony is to more or less maintain each spouse’s standard of living after divorce. Length of marriage, while a crucial factor, is not the only one that impacts alimony determinations. Protect your rights and entitlements with the help of a competent divorce attorney.
Call an Experienced Divorce Attorney in Colorado
If you have concerns about your Colorado property division or spousal support, don’t hesitate to contact us at Goldman Law. With over 25 years of combined experience, our divorce attorneys have earned top ratings from state and national associations. Coloradans also trust us for our personalized service and efficient handling of their Family Law cases.
Talk to us about your divorce situation. Call Goldman Law today at (303) 656-9529.