BY COATY MARCHANT WOODS, P.C. Jan 17, 2020
The decision to get divorced can be difficult and emotional. A divorce will affect your life, your children (if any), and your economic future. Before you proceed, you need information about the legal consequences of divorce, or “dissolution of marriage” in Colorado, particularly where it concerns your property.
It is important to understand that the court’s main purpose in a dissolution matter is to do three things; (1) divide the parties’ marital property and debts between them, (2) determine the best interests of the children with regard to decision making and parenting time, and (3) determine child support and/or spousal maintenance, if any. There may be other issues the court resolves in a dissolution of marriage, but these are the “big three”.
When it comes to your property, the first thing to understand is what is and is not marital property subject to division by the court. Anything either party brought into the marriage during the marriage is marital property and is subject to division by the court. The relative contributions of each party to acquiring the property or how the property is titled are not relevant to whether or not the property is considered “marital” property.
You may want to reconsider obtaining property or assets before you are officially divorced as this property will be considered marital property by the court.
Separate property is any property owned by either party prior to the marriage, however, the increase in the value of the separate property during the marriage is marital property and is subject to division by the court. For example, if you own a rental condo prior to your marriage, it is worth $200,000 on the date of your marriage and it is worth $300,000 on the date your marriage is dissolved, then the increase in value, or $100,000, is marital property and is subject to division by the court.
The law protects certain types of property from being considered marital property, but you have to be careful not to co-mingle these types of property or they can change from separate to marital property. Property obtained by gift, bequest, devise or descent (“inheritances”), separate property that is exchanged for other separate property and property excluded from division by a valid agreement of the parties (a “prenuptial” or “marital” agreement) are not considered marital property and are not subject to division by the court. Examples of co-mingling are: putting cash from an inheritance in a joint bank account with your spouse, putting real property you inherit or that is your separate property into your and your spouse’s name, etc.
If you have questions about how certain types of property will be treated in a divorce, or if you have any questions about divorce in Colorado, a divorce attorney at Coaty Marchant Woods, P.C. can help you. Don’t go it alone when good advice can save you money.