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Colorado is a Marital Property State – But What Does That Mean?

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Category: Divorce | Marital Property

Colorado is a Marital Property State – But What Does That Mean

So you and your spouse have decided to get a divorce. As you begin to separate your lives, you will also have to separate your property. It’s one thing trying to decide who gets the big items, like the car and the house, but it may be even harder to divide assets and accounts that were supposed to be put away for when you and your spouse retire.


If it seems like all of your assets have been shared by you and your spouse throughout your marriage… who gets what? It comes down to understanding marital property in our state.


How Marital Property Works in Colorado


States look at marital property in one of two ways: “common law property” or “community property.” In Colorado, marital property is considered “common law property” and is divided by the rules of equitable distribution.


This means that when you get divorced, a judge will aim to divide property obtained during the marriage in a fair way. Note that “fair” does not necessarily mean “equal” (which is how community property states like Texas or Louisiana divide property).


A judge will look at a few different factors to determine who gets what after a divorce, including:


  • Contribution of each spouse to obtaining marital property (i.e. income)
  • Ability of each spouse to earn an income
  • Contribution of each spouse as a homemaker
  • Property set apart or aside by each spouse
  • Economic circumstances of each spouse when the divorce is finalized


Colorado is a “no-fault” state. Because of this, the reason for divorce will not be considered when dividing property. However, any economic fault or misconduct may be considered to divide the property fairly.


Where Separate Property Factors In


The rules of equitable distribution apply to marital property, which is reserved for property that were shared, purchased, or given to both spouses during the course of their marriage. But there’s also separate property.


Separate property includes:


  • Assets obtained or owned before the marriage
  • Gifts to one spouse
  • Inheritance given to one spouse
  • Property divided by legal documents (i.e. prenuptial agreements)
  • Property obtained after legal separation


Generally, these assets are viewed as separate entities (hence the name) and will be issued back to the owner.


However, if one spouse has separate property from before the marriage and the value of the separate property increased during the course of the marriage, that amount of money may be considered marital property. It must be proved to a judge, however, through financial records submitted during divorce proceedings.


You will have to file a financial affidavit before your divorce. While you are collecting your records for the affidavit, make sure you also collect any and all financial records concerning the property that you believe should belong to you after your divorce. If you can, separate joint accounts and property before filing as well.


Dividing Property Yourself – Instead of Leaving It Up to a Judge


Denver Marital Property Settlement Lawyer

You don’t need to go to court and have a judge divide all of your marital property for you. If you and your spouse decide to get a divorce, there are ways to mutually divide your property without the input of a judge.


It is often less time-consuming and cheaper to divide your property this way, and there are no surprises when the final divorce rulings are made. If this is something you and your spouse would be interested in, consider a collaborative divorce.


For more information on dividing property during your divorce, contact a Colorado family lawyer.


About the Author:


Vernon Ready is an award-winning Colorado lawyer with an in-depth understanding of all areas of family law, estate planning, and personal injury. His energetic and aggressive advocacy approach allow him to successfully navigate complex cases, including high asset divorce and complicated custody issues. During his time at the University of Colorado Law School, Ready won numerous awards for his trial advocacy skills. Since being admitted to practice in 2009, Ready has become well-known throughout Denver and the state for the passionate defense of his clients and his unparalleled understanding of the law.