Divorce can be an emotionally and financially draining experience. It’s often a difficult and complicated process to navigate, legally, practically, and emotionally. While it’s vital to consult an experienced divorce lawyer to help you navigate the divorce process, understanding how that process works can help you to make better decisions during this critical period of transition.
In Colorado, marital assets are divided between the two parties involved in a divorce settlement according to the principle of equitable distribution. It is based on the idea that all marital property should be divided fairly – though not necessarily equally – between spouses. Under equitable distribution, a court considers each spouse’s contributions during marriage as well as any other relevant factors such as length of the marriage or each party’s respective age at the time of separation. The courts will also consider whether either party was responsible for any premarital debt or if one spouse has more income than another.
The process of equitable distribution can be complex and overwhelming, especially for those just starting out with their divorce proceedings. If you’re facing this situation, it may help to have information about what equitable distribution means and how it could affect your life after divorce so that you can make informed decisions about your future finances and lifestyle needs.
Determining Separate vs. Marital Property
When deciding how to divide your assets, the court will first have to determine what is separate property and what is marital property. Separate property belongs to only one individual and is most often an asset or debt owned before marriage, an inheritance, or something given as a gift during marriage from someone other than their spouse.
For example, if one spouse purchased a house before getting married, in most cases that house would remain theirs and not be subject to equitable distribution upon divorce. However, this can become tricky if, for instance, marital assets were used to maintain the home.
Marital property is typically assets or debts acquired while the couple was married or any gifts given by them to each other during the marriage. It can also refer to anything that was acquired during the course of the marriage with joint funds or labor performed by either party regardless of who holds title on an item.
For instance, if a couple opened a savings account when they got married and used it for family vacations over the years then those funds would become part of their marital estate and subject to equitable distribution upon divorce. This would likely be the case even if only one person contributed to the joint savings account or even if only one person’s name was on the account.
How Do Colorado Courts Determine What is Fair?
Determining what might be a fair division of a couple’s marital assets can be a difficult endeavor. In order to ensure that each party receives their fair share in the divorce settlement, the court must take into account all relevant factors. According to Colorado Revised Statute § 14-10-113, these factors can include:
- The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the marital property, including the contribution of a spouse as homemaker
- The value of the property set apart to each spouse
- The economic circumstances of each spouse at the time the division of property is to become effective, including the desirability of awarding the family home or the right to live therein for reasonable periods to the spouse with whom any children reside the majority of the time
- Any increases or decreases in the value of the separate property of the spouse during the marriage or the depletion of separate property for marital purposes
For instance, the court can consider any pre-marital debt and who was responsible for incurring it. They can also consider whether one spouse has more income than another. They may also look at each spouse’s contributions during marriage when deciding on an equitable division of assets.
For example, if one spouse stayed home with the children while the other worked full-time, then they may award the homemaker spouse a larger portion of shared financial resources due to their additional uncompensated labor contribution over the years.
It’s important to remember that judges have wide discretion when considering what is equitable under state law. They are required to make sure that any decision reflects fairness between parties involved, but this means that there isn't necessarily a formulaic approach used when dividing assets.
How Clawson & Clawson, LLP Can Help
Navigating the complex process of equitable distribution and ensuring that you receive your fair share in a divorce settlement can be a daunting task. At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that each divorce case is unique, and it is to your benefit to consult an experienced divorce attorney who can help you navigate this process.
Our team of family law attorneys at Clawson & Clawson, LLP have years of experience dealing with all aspects of marital property division in Colorado divorces. We are dedicated to working closely with our clients to ensure their interests are well represented throughout the entire process so they can get the best possible outcome.
Whether it’s negotiating settlements through mediation or litigating disputes over asset division in court, we offer comprehensive legal services for those going through a divorce in Colorado. Don’t go through this difficult time alone – we are here to help you so you can move forward with your life.
Contact us online or call us at (719) 602-5888 to schedule a consultation to discuss your case in detail.