Although sometimes the decision to get a divorce is an obvious one, when it comes time to separate your life from the one you created with your spouse, the situation can get complicated. While you want to move on to the next phase of your life, asset division from a divorce can present several hurdles.
Before you can separate assets, you need to know what belongs to you, what belongs to your spouse, and what belongs to both of you. Once you distinguish the marital property from the separate property, you can start applying Colorado’s “equitable distribution” standard to your marital property.
Here’s what you should know about distinguishing separate property from marital property as you navigate a Colorado divorce.
Not everything is ours
In some states, there is no separate property unless specified by a prenuptial agreement. Colorado does not follow that rule. Here, there is an essential distinction between what belongs to you as a couple and what belongs only to you or only to your spouse as an individual.
While there are definitions for deciding what qualifies as marital or separate property on paper, applying those rules can be challenging. In Colorado. The court will assume that assets are marital property unless specific circumstances apply, including:
- Property received by one spouse as a gift or bequest
- Property acquired before the marriage
- Property subject to a specific agreement, such as a prenup
Sometimes property that seems to fit in the “individual” category has been mixed in with things you accumulated during your married life together. That makes it more challenging to separate it when it comes time to protect it during divorce.
What belongs to us
In many cases, after you separate the assets that belong specifically to you or your spouse, the remaining assets are marital property and subject to asset division. Some of your belongings are easier to put in the marital asset category, but these typically include assets such as:
- Jointly owned real property
- Shared vehicles
- Assets purchased while married
- Gifts received as a couple
Unfortunately, there are often blurry lines between separate property and what is subject to asset division. Keep in mind as you are discussing asset division, you may need to choose your battles. Often, when couples cannot decide and move on, the divorce process takes longer and becomes more stressful.
How is marital property split?
In many cases, divorcing couples assume that asset division means splitting everything 50-50. While an equal division of the marital assets is not uncommon, it is not required. Instead, the law says the division should be equitable.
Factors considered in deciding the division might include:
- Each spouse’s contribution to acquiring the property
- Value of the property
- Each spouse’s economic circumstance at the time of asset division
- Appreciation/depreciation of separate property during the marriage
As you prepare for the asset division part of your divorce, it is crucial to think about your needs after the divorce is finalized. An essential part of equitable distribution is understanding what is yours and advocating for your share of the marital assets.