One of the first steps you need to take when trying to figure out how the courts will split up your assets in a Colorado divorce is to determine which assets are marital property and which ones are separate property. Your marital assets, which may include your family home, are usually subject to division under Colorado’s family law statutes, while in most cases your separate property will remain yours even after the divorce is over.
Figuring out what is your separate property and which assets are marital property can sometimes be confusing.
Marital property is usually what you accrue during your marriage
When you get married, you and your spouse agree to combine your lives and your households into one legal entity. That means that you share in one another’s financial gains, such as income, while also sharing financial problems, such as debts.
Some people mistakenly believe that so long as an account or asset is held only in their name, they have sole possession of the item or asset, making it their separate property. In actuality, the courts will care far less about whose name is on the receipt or account and more about when and how you acquired the asset.
Even if you have a secret retirement account that you drop a hundred dollars into every month, your spouse probably has some claim to the amount you deposited during your marriage even though they never made a deposit.
Some assets you own are still yours alone
Not every asset from your marriage belongs to both you and your spouse under Colorado law. Certain possessions and assets have protection from classification as marital property. Any gift that you or your spouse receive from someone outside of your marriage is likely separate property.
An inheritance that names only one spouse as a beneficiary is also typically separate property. Finally, the assets you own prior to getting married remain your separate property as well.
However, it is possible for you to commingle those assets by sharing them with your spouse, putting them into a joint account, using them to acquire a jointly titled asset or giving your spouse access to or control over them. In that circumstance, even items that would typically be separate property may wind up subject to division as marital property.
In additon the asset you received as a gift or by inheritance may have a marital value component in the future if it has gone up in value between the date you received it and the date marital property is being calculated for divorce purposes.
In any event, having a good paper trail for what was received and when will be helpful.