Think About What Kind Of Property Do You Have
Do you own a home? An investment account? What about credit card debt? When did you purchase that home? Was it before or during your marriage? What money have you used to pay its mortgage? Your attorney will go through these questions with you and the reason for that is because Colorado is called an Equitable Distribution State. That means – when you purchased something 20 years before your marriage, and you still have that item or account today—that is probably still your separate property. Items you own or trusts you were given before the marriage do not become part of the marriage unless certain factors are met. Here at Modern Family Law, we’re able to walk through your assets and items to determine if they are marital (purchased during the marriage or assumed into the marriage) or separate property (all your own.) Even if you have something you obtained prior to marriage, like an investment account, there may be gains or losses during the marriage that need to be assessed when factoring property allocation in a dissolution.
What Do Courts Consider When Dividing Property?
Colorado follows C.R.S. 14-10-113 to divide property. A Court is asked to evaluate property based on the following factors:
1. The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the marital property, including the contribution of a spouse as homemaker;
2. The value of the property set apart to each spouse;
3. The economic circumstances of each spouse at the time of the division of property is to become effective, including the desirability of awarding the family home or the right to live therein for reasonable periods to the spouse with whom any children reside the majority of the time; and
4. Any increases or decreases in the value of the separate property of the spouse during the marriage or the depletion of the separate property for marital purposes.
I’m Not On The Loan or Deed. Is the House Mine Too?
Colorado’s Equitable Distribution laws mean that when either spouse purchases property during the marriage – regardless of whose name its under – it still belongs to the marriage. There are certain exceptions to this rule. Gifts from one spouse to the other during the marriage can be classified as separate property under CRS 14-10-113(2)(a). Gifts from friends or family, or “bequests, devises, descent” or inheritance are not marital property. However, there are times when a spouse “co-mingles” a property and it becomes “assumed into the marriage.” Your attorney is there to determine if there has been co-mingling or an assumption into the marriage, and if so, how to proceed.
Ultimately, Colorado recognizes that spouses often have different roles in the marriage, but that these roles serve important purposes. Homemakers save money on childcare and upkeep home maintenance. Breadwinners contribute to future plans such as retirement accounts and real estate purchases. Both are important roles, and both have made sacrifices for the sake of the other. Therefore, when Colorado Courts consider how to divide property, it is looking for an equitable result. That does not always mean an even split. That also does not always feel fair. It is important to speak to your attorney on the reasons why Courts award certain property one way or the other to understand the true fairness and equitability behind the Court’s motivations.