Dividing your property during a divorce can be a difficult process. At Mediate Don’t Litigate in Denver, I will work as a neutral party to help both sides come to a full agreement. The first step is gaining a better understanding of how the laws in Colorado affect how property is divided so that you can make the best possible decision for your specific situation.
Colorado Law on Property Division
When dividing your property during a divorce, Colorado is considered an equitable distribution state. This does not mean that all marital property is distributed equally, but instead, what the court considers to be fair. Now, what you think is fair might differ greatly from the court which makes it important to consider mediation as your best course of action.
If you do choose mediation services, the Colorado courts will accept a property division decided by both parties as long as it’s fair and reasonable. If parties are unable to reach a settlement, the court will make a decision for you. At Mediate Don’t Litigate, I’ll guide you through the process and help you create an agreement that’s acceptable for both parties as well as the court.
Separate Property or Marital Property
When dividing your property during a divorce, you will first need to determine if the property is marital property or separate. Property is considered separate if one spouse owned it prior to the marriage or acquired it via inheritance or gift during the marriage. Items purchased with or exchanged for separate property are also considered separate.
However, crossover can occur if the property is commingled into joint title/ownership or the value of separate property increases during the marriage. For example, you purchased a rental property prior to the marriage for $100k, and its value is currently at $350k. With records to support the claim of increased value, the difference can be considered marital property that will need to be fairly divided.
Property can easily become a grey area. Often, during a marriage, parties freely transfer the title of property from one to the other. There can also be commingling, which often happens with bank accounts, sometimes on purpose and sometimes because you simply weren’t paying close attention or anticipating dividing your property during a divorce.
Mediation helps both parties work through this grey area, find compromise, then create a fair and equitable division that meets everyone’s best interests.
Equitable Distribution Factors
In determining fair and equitable distribution, the following factors are taken into consideration by the court and should be contemplated during the mediation process:
- The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of marital property, including the contribution of a spouse as homemaker
- The value of the property in the award given to each spouse
- Decreases and increases in the overall value of separate property during the marriage
- The financial circumstances of each spouse at the time of the award
It’s important to know that Colorado law, and therefore the court, supports dividing marital property without taking misconduct into consideration. Sometimes, however, if one party can prove the other party purposefully dissipated a substantial marital asset, their action may be taken into consideration when dividing the property.
How Your Property Can Be Divided
Assets can be divided by spouses, mediation, or the courts. If both parties cannot come to an agreement, your financial future will be left to a judge who knows nothing about your life or situation to determine what’s considered fair.
On your own or through mediation, dividing your property during a divorce may include giving one party certain assets and then equalizing the value with a monetary payment. Co-ownership is another option, but this may not work if both parties do not get along or simply want a clean and definitive separation of assets.
Another factor to consider is that marital debts are also split equitably and can be introduced during the property division conversation. One spouse may keep assets with greater value, but retain a particular marital debt to even things out between both parties.
As you can see, there’s a lot of nuance when dividing your property during a divorce. Even if a marriage ends amicably, navigating this process can be tough and require a lot of compromise. By coming to Mediate Don’t Litigate in Denver, I will be the neutral third party needed to help you find the right balance and keep the courts from deciding your future.
To learn more about mediation and schedule a consultation, please get in touch today.
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