Property Division In Colorado Divorce
One of the major issues in most divorces is the division of property. During a typical marriage, the couple accumulates a considerable amount of property, including personal property, real estate, trust funds, bank accounts, business assets, investments, insurance, pensions or retirement plans, and other types of assets. The more property there is to divide, the more important it becomes to consult an experienced Boulder divorce attorney, to ensure that these often complex issues are decided equitably and quickly.
Equitable Distribution of Marital Property
Equitable distribution does not always mean equal distribution based solely on the dollar value of the property. Many other factors must also be taken into consideration.
Marital Property (also known as “community property”)
Marital property usually includes the home that the family or divorcing couple lived in during the marriage. Often, residential property is a couple’s largest asset. Determining its value and how to divide this asset can be complicated and time-consuming, especially when the couple has children who need to remain in the marital home.
In many marriages, particularly those of long duration, one or the other spouse may have accumulated significant assets in a pension or other type of retirement plan. In certain situations, the Court will allow the person who earned the retirement funds to retain rights to future distribution of any vested funds. Such a determination is usually contingent on other income sources being available to the divorcing spouses. Often, the Court will enter a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) that makes provisions for dividing retirement and pension funds between the worker who earned them and the former spouse.
Dividing the interests of family business can be a complex … more
Separate property, as opposed to marital property, is property that one spouse owns alone and that is not subject to being divided as part of the divorce. Separate property can include, among other things:
Gifts and inheritances
Personal injury awards
Proceeds of pensions that vested before the parties married
Property purchased with separate funds
Businesses owned before the marriage, with the exception that if both spouses worked at the business or if its value increased during the marriage, the increase may be considered marital (or community) property.
If you believe that dividing marital property could become a long, drawn-out controversy in your divorce case, you owe it to yourself and your family to seek the assistance of a trusted family law attorney.
Sara Ross: The first thing we look at is what is marital and what is separate. There is a category of property that’s called “separate,” which includes anything that either party received as a gift during the marriage or through inheritance, and then also property that people had before they got married, which is called “premarital property.” Even if something is a premarital asset, if it increases in value during the marriage, the increase in value is marital. If you own the home prior to your marriage, and it was worth, say, $100,000, and then during the marriage it increased to $150,000, the $100,000 is your separate property, and the fifty is marital.
We have to first determine what’s separate, what’s marital, and sometimes there are things—items like a home—that have premarital and marital characteristics. What the court will look at is what’s in the marital estate, what qualifies as marital property, and will divide it between the two parties.