While some couples in Colorado marry young without much by way of assets to their names, it is not unusual for couples to marry at older ages these days, or even to divorce and re-marry a second time. This also means that it is not unusual for couples to enter into a marriage with significant assets of their own. Some of these assets may be investments, retirement accounts, bank accounts or even a house.

It may seem reasonable that whatever you entered the relationship with, should you divorce, you should be able to walk away with. However, property division in a divorce is much more complicated than that. Property in a divorce will be classified as either “marital” or “separate.” Marital property is generally that which a couple obtains over the course of their marriage and is divided equitably between the spouses. Separate property is that which a party owns prior to getting married. However, if separate property is combined or “commingled” with marital property, it loses its status as separate property. It becomes marital property, and thus is included in the divisible estate.

Soon-to-be spouses who want to ensure that their separate property will go to them in the event of a divorce may want to consider executing a prenuptial agreement. In a prenuptial agreement, the parties can detail who will retain what property should they ultimately divorce. This may be especially important if one or both parties own a significant amount of separate assets or are expecting an inheritance.

With a prenup in place, the entire property division process may run smoother if the couple divorces. However, prenups should not be seen as an indication that a spouse isn’t committed to the marriage. Instead, it is more like insurance, protecting each party’s interests given the reality that not every marriage will last “until death do us part.”