If you are considering a divorce in Colorado, you may have questions about how you and your spouse will divide the property you have accumulated during your marriage. Television, movies, and pop culture tend to suggest that you will need to divide everything equally in half, but the reality is much more nuanced. In fact, the law in Colorado requires a divorcing couple's marital property to be divided fairly—not necessarily equally—under a principle known as "equitable distribution."
Identifying and Evaluating Marital Property
To understand how equitable distribution works in Colorado, it is necessary to understand what property is subject to division in the first place. In general, any property that was acquired during the marriage—with a few important exceptions—is considered "marital property" and is therefore subject to equitable distribution. This includes not only obvious things like houses and cars, but also things like retirement accounts and debt.
The next step is to determine the value of each marital asset. This can be a complicated process, particularly if the asset in question is something like a business that does not have a readily apparent market value. Establishing an acceptable value for an asset is an important part of dividing marital property, and experts may be required to help you do so. For example, you may wish to consult with a financial advisor to establish the current and long-term value of your retirement accounts.
Dividing Marital Assets
Once the value of each asset has been determined, the court will then divide them according to what it deems to be a fair and equitable distribution. This does not necessarily mean that everything will be divided equally between the two spouses. Instead, the court will consider several factors when making its determination, including but not limited to:
The duration of the marriage
Each spouse's contribution to the acquisition of marital property, including whether one spouse stayed home to raise children or care for elderly family members
Each spouse's current financial needs and earning potential
The couple's standard of living during the marriage
Any instances of waste or dissipation of marital assets by either spouse
Whether one spouse will have primary custody of the couple's children
The existence of any valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreements that may be relevant to the division of assets
Keep in mind that you and your spouse can certainly negotiate a marital property settlement agreement on your own. In such a case, the court will still review your agreement to ensure that neither spouse is gaining an advantage that is considered “unconscionable.”
Contact a Denver Asset Division Lawyer
If you have any questions about how your particular situation may be affected by Colorado's equitable distribution laws, you should consult with an experienced Jefferson County divorce attorney. Call for a confidential consultation with a member of the team at Pesch Law Office PC today.