Determining who gets what in a Colorado divorce

Dividing property in a Colorado divorce can be achieved through mediation or by using the equitable division of property method.

While there are many issues to resolve during the divorce process, dividing property and assets may be one of the most difficult. Couples who have filed for divorce in Colorado have several options when it comes to deciding who gets what in a settlement. Although mediation allows people to negotiate their own property division terms, it is not successful for everyone. Some couples must rely on the Colorado court to split marital property and assets in a fair manner.

Defining equitable distribution of property

Some states in the nation divide marital property according to the community property model, which presumptively divides everything in half equally. Colorado, on the other hand, follows an equitable distribution of property model. Rather than receive an equal share, each party receives his or her fair share based on the discretion of the court.

Looking at the factors

With equitable property division, the judge overseeing the case will take into consideration several factors regarding the divorce. This will help him or her to determine how to separate the property and assets in a fair manner. Among other factors, the court will look at each spouse's:

  • Contribution to the marriage
  • Mental and physical health
  • Age
  • Place of employment, income and education level
  • Employability
  • Need to maintain a good quality of life for themselves and any children who are involved

Furthermore, the judge will look at how long the couple has been married. In some cases, one spouse may forgo his or her career or education in order to support the other spouse's education or career. The judge may use this information when forming a final decision as well.

Distinguishing between marital and separate property

Marital assets and property can be divided in a divorce case. Separate property, however, is not eligible for distribution and must stay with the original owner. According to Colorado statute, separate property includes any assets or items that were owned by either party prior to the marriage. Any inheritance or third-party gifts that were given to a spouse during the course of a marriage are also exempt from division in a divorce case.

While homes, vehicles and furniture are commonly considered marital property, there may be some lesser known items that can be divided in a divorce. Life insurance policies, 401K plans, stock, pensions, and workers' compensation benefits are considered marital property in most cases. Art collections, classic cars and jewelry may also be divided as marital property as long as they aren't labeled as separate property.

When to speak to an attorney

Colorado couples are not required to retain an attorney to file for divorce. However, it may be helpful to speak to an attorney regarding your legal options. It can be difficult to know whether you are making the right choices during such an emotional time in your life. A divorce lawyer will help to ensure you get everything you deserve in your divorce settlement.

Keywords: divorce, mediation, property, division