The Rocky Mountain Family Lawyers are Denver’s award-winning family law trial advocates. We’re experts in PROPERTY DIVISION cases in Denver and other cities throughout Colorado.
Call us today to talk personally with a lawyer about with your Denver PROPERTY DIVISION issues. (303) 502-9600.
Property division in a Colorado divorce follows a three-step process. First, each asset or debt is classified as marital or separate property. Second, the property is valued. Finally, the property is allocated or distributed “equitably.” Property division in Colorado is relatively simple in theory, but often proves highly contentious in practice.
What is Marital Property? What is Separate Property?
In Colorado, marital property is defined as all property acquired by either spouse subsequent to the marriage except:
(a) Property acquired by gift, bequest, devise, or descent
(b) Property acquired prior to the marriage
(c) Property acquired in exchange for the above property types
(c) Property acquired after a decree of legal separation, and
(d) Property excluded by valid agreement of the parties, such as a premarital or marital agreement.
Colorado marital property also include the increase in value of any separate asset that occurs during the marriage.
It is generally not relevant how title is held or in which party’s name title is held.
If separate property is acquired during a marriage, the owner must trace it back to separate origins. If premarital separate property has been co-mingled with marital property, it must also be traced back. This can be a difficult proof. In the absence of clear tracing, the court will presume that the alleged separate property is Colorado marital property.
When is Value Determined?
Value of marital property is determined at the time of the divorce decree or at the hearing on the division of the property, but only if that hearing precedes the date of the decree.
If one of the spouses disposes of or sells marital property in contemplation of divorce, those assets are given the value they would have had on the last day of the marriage.
What is “Equitable” Division of Property in Colorado?
The Court has extremely broad discretion to determine what is “equitable” but is required to consider the following factors:
- The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the marital property in question, including the contribution a spouse has made as a homemaker.
- The value of the marital or separate property set aside to each spouse.
- The economic circumstances each spouse faces at the time the marital property is divided, including the desirability of awarding the family home to the spouse the children will be with for a majority of the time.
- Any increases or decreases in the value of separate property of the spouse during the course of the marriage or any decrease in the value of property.
No single factor carries more weight than another. Also, the court is free to consider other factors. The court may not consider marital fault or misconduct, but is allowed to consider economic fault, such as the deliberate wasting or hiding of marital property prior to the divorce. In practice, I’ve found that the courts will only consider relatively obvious economic fault that occurs within a reasonably close proximity to the divorce.
Once the personal property is valued, a division may be drawn up on a property recap spreadsheet. Any significant inequalities between what each spouse receives may be rectified with an equalization payment. The funds for such a payment typically come from investment accounts or other liquid assets. Sometimes, the marital home must be sold to generate funds for this purpose.
Talk to a Colorado Family Law Attorney About Property Division
The Rocky Mountain Family Lawyers are Colorado property division experts. Call us now to discuss your legal options and rights concerning property division in Denver, Colorado and surrounding cities (303) 502-9600.