No one walks down the aisle expecting the journey to end in divorce court, but when a divorce becomes inevitable, spouses in Colorado begin considering how they will divide their assets and debts when they go their separate ways. Besides child custody matters, the division of assets and debts in Colorado divorces is the most frequently contentious issue between spouses.
Colorado is an “equitable division” state, meaning marital assets don’t have to be divided exactly 50/50, but allocated in a way that a judge agrees is fair and equitable for both and doesn’t leave one spouse facing undue hardship.
Separate vs. Marital Assets
Before you and your spouse file for divorce or begin the mediation process, it helps to fully understand what a judge will consider as separate assets vs. marital assets. Separate assets are those acquired by individuals before their marriage and that remained separate, while marital assets are those acquired during the marriage by both spouses together, or by each spouse individually. Examples of marital assets include:
The marital home(s)
Furniture, devices, and appliances
Artwork, collectibles, and antiques
RVs, campers, and motorcycles
Only gifts and individual inheritances remain separate property even if gained during a marriage. Further, some separate property owned by a spouse before marriage could become marital property if the other spouse invests significant money and/or time into it or makes improvements. Also, a separate account belonging to only one party before the marriage can become marital property if the other spouse had access to the account throughout the marriage, if their name was added to the account, or if they contributed to it.
Any property acquired after a divorcing couple separates is considered separate property.
Negotiating a Divorce Settlement in Colorado
Divorcing spouses in Colorado have the option of negotiating their own settlement, dividing their marital assets in a way that satisfies both of them, with or without attending professional mediation. In that case, a judge is likely to sign off on the agreement as long as it isn’t grossly unfair to one spouse or the judge suspects it was signed under duress. If divorcing spouses can’t or won’t come to their own settlement agreement, the judge will divide their marital assets after a period of full financial disclosure by both parties and a discovery period by the attorneys for both spouses.
Only separate property and assets excluded from becoming marital property by a prenuptial agreement aren’t subject to division during a divorce in Colorado.
Debts are Part of Property Division in Colorado
Like assets, debts are also divided during a divorce if the debts were acquired during the marriage. Even if only one spouse acquired a debt and only their name is on the account, it’s still subject to division during a divorce. After a judge divides debts, it’s important to check all accounts allotted to the other spouse to ensure that your name is no longer listed as a debtor on the account.
Property Division and Spousal Maintenance
When divorcing spouses negotiate their own equitable division of marital assets in Colorado, it’s important to consider the way the division could impact spousal maintenance in the case. A judge considers the assets allocated during the division of marital property to the spouse seeking maintenance as financial resources and takes these resources into account before deciding on an amount.
If you have questions about property division in your divorce, your divorce lawyer can help. Set up a consultation today.