What should I know about dividing marital property in a divorce?
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What should I know about dividing marital property in a divorce?

On Behalf of | Sep 22, 2023 | Property Division |

Colorado couples who are moving forward with a divorce and have been fortunate enough to accumulate substantial assets will inevitably worry about property division. In some cases, the sides can negotiate and come to an amicable resolution. In others, it is more difficult.

According to state law, there are basic rules to how marital property will be divided. Colorado uses the template of equitable distribution when deciding how to allocate property. This means that it will try to reach a fair result. “Fair” does not automatically mean 50-50. Since property can be such a sticking point to completing the case, it is important know how marital property is defined.

Assessing the property in a divorce

When marital property is divided, it is not a simple matter of looking at who the primary earner was in the marriage and letting them retain what they paid for. There are other factors involved. Since marriage is a partnership, the non-working or lesser-earning spouse could have contributed to its acquisition and increase in value.

Perhaps they were a homemaker freeing the working spouse to concentrate on their profession. They might have helped pay the other person’s way through school so they garnered the education and credentials to afford an affluent lifestyle. This will be considered when property is split.

The property value is also key. Since the objective is to be fair, the court can allocate a specific amount to each side to facilitate fairness. There could be an exchange such as one person getting to retain real estate and the other keeping their investment accounts that otherwise would have needed to be shared.

The court also thinks about the desirability and necessity of one person retaining a marital home. There could be children who are going to live with that parent. Unnecessary and unwanted disruption to the children can be avoided if the custodial parent keeps the house. There might need to be a financial arrangement for this situation.

Property value can increase during a marriage. If a person did not pay for the property but improved it through their own efforts, that too will be considered when the property is set to be divided.

Reaching a fair property outcome requires knowledge of the process

Other aspects generally come to the forefront in any divorce. That includes child custody, child support and spousal maintenance. However, people should not ignore marital property division as it greatly impacts their future, particularly in high-asset cases. Knowing the basics and how to achieve goals is critical from the start of the case.