Dividing property in a divorce can be one of the most challenging steps in a difficult process. Not only are there complicated financial decisions to make, but there can also be emotional challenges that come with deciding who should receive which property.
It is not uncommon for people to make assumptions during this process, which can add a layer of confusion that further complicates the process. To avoid this, you should understand some fundamental details about the property division laws and procedures in Colorado.
Equitable distribution laws
Colorado is an equitable distribution state, which means that courts divide marital property in equitable, or fair, proportions. This is different from community property states where all community property is divided equally between spouses.
It is important to note that separate property (or property that belonged to one person prior to marriage or property protected with a prenup) is generally not eligible for distribution; it stays with the individual owner. Understand, too, that marital debts will also be eligible for distribution.
Determining what is fair
Many divorces end with a fairly equal division of assets, but numerous factors can affect this balance. These factors include:
- Marital contributions (financial and those of a homemaker)
- Each person's economic circumstances following the divorce
- Separate assets
Note that marital misconduct is not something the courts will consider when making a determination on asset division.
Making decisions outside of court
You do not have to leave property division decisions in the hands of the court. You can (and many people do) make decisions yourselves outside of court in mediation. This can give you more control over who gets what and make it easier to negotiate for specific assets.
Working with an attorney to pursue a fair settlement
Having a basic understanding of how property division works in Colorado can help you prepare for discussions and manage your expectations. However, you do not have to go through this complicated process alone. A legal representative can be a crucial resource in navigating the situation and negotiating or fighting for the settlement you deserve.