In Colorado is my spouse entitled to half my house if it’s registered in my name?
Colorado divorce law typically regards your house as marital property if it was acquired during the marriage, without regard to title. If you or your spouse bought the home during the marriage with gifted or inherited funds, and the house remained titled in their name alone, then the growth of equity over the length of the marriage is subject to division.
What Does Marital Property Mean in Colorado?
In Colorado, all property accumulated during a marriage is referred to as marital property, except in limited cases of separate or premarital property as defined by statute. The names on the deed and whether the title is held solely by one party or jointly by both parties are not factors considered by the courts.
Typically, anything of worth falls under the definition of marital property. They include:
- Real estate equity
- Bank accounts
- Business investments
- Personal belongings and home items
- RVs, vehicles, ATVs, and such.
- Investments (stocks, mutual funds, and other financial instruments)
- Frequent flier miles, stock options, and a variety of smaller value miscellania.
- IRAs, 401(k)s, FERS, PERAs, military retirement plans, and so on.
- Value of separate property rising during marriage
If we divorce, will my spouse be entitled to half of my house?
No, Colorado is not a “community property” state, rather, it is a “equitable division” state which means that property is divided according to what the Court believes is fair, but may not necessarily be equal.
Thus, the judge considers your individual circumstances and makes a “fair division” recommendation, saying that in the event of a divorce, legal separation, or annulment, the assets and debts you accumulated throughout your marriage should be split equitably between you and your spouse.
What resources are not considered marital property?
What are not considered marital property are:
- Assets that either spouse has gifted or inherited;
- Real estate purchased with funds from the sale of a home purchased before marriage or a gift or inherited home, subject to the growth of equity over the length of the marriage;
- Any assets accumulated by either party following a Decree of Legal Separation; and
- Items not covered by a legally binding agreement between the two parties
Couples may also bring separate property into the marriage or acquire it through gifts or inheritance during a marriage. Separate property won’t often need to be shared during the divorce. Due to the ease with which separate property can mix with marital property, however, this can be a tricky situation.
When does separate property turn to marital property?
The best way to illustrate this case is with an example. During a marriage, one of the spouses purchased a home using inheritance funds. Both spouses’ names were then incorporated onto the title of the purchased property. Thus, separate property became marital property over time because both couples resided in and contributed to the home. In other words, the home became co-mingled.
How is marital property divided in a divorce in Colorado?
In Colorado, the law seeks to distribute all assets and liabilities accumulated during a marriage with fairness and equity toward both spouses.
When a couple is unable to reach an agreement regarding property division on their own (or through mediation), the court may step in and make this determination. But keep in mind that dividing property does not always entail dividing it physically. To give an example using the marital home, the judge will probably decide on a certain portion of the overall value that goes to each spouse.
The following are just some of the considerations a judge uses to decide on how to divide the parties’ assets:
- Personal and economic condition of each spouse
- The contribution made by each partner in buying the residence
- Any child custody agreements that have been made
- The changes in the worth of each spouse’s separate property changes during the marriage.
- Post-nuptial or previous prenuptial agreements
For instance, you would probably get a bigger part of the house proceeds if you were the family’s higher earner and contributed more to the down payment or mortgage. A custodial parent with younger children, on the other hand, is more inclined to allow staying in the house if that agreement is best for the children.
In any case, various scenarios are feasible. If the house division issues go to trial, it is preferable to have qualified legal representation.
Consult a Colorado lawyer to assist in property division
Who gets the house in a divorce depends on a number of criteria and each spouse’s individual circumstances. Although preference is typically given to the custodial parent, this isn’t always the case with commingled property. Therefore, it is wise to retain the services of a qualified divorce lawyer at the outset if you want to make sure that your rights are upheld during the distribution of property.
Do you need a Colorado divorce attorney?
The family law attorneys at Goldman Law, LLC have years of expertise guiding clients through the complexities of Colorado’s legal system. We can assist you in dividing marital assets and debts since we are intimately familiar with Colorado’s family laws.
Call our Colorado office at (303) 656-9529 to make an appointment with one of our family law attorneys.