Understanding how equitable distribution of property works in Colorado

In Colorado, when people divorce, marital property is divided equitably, which doesn’t always mean evenly.

When people in Wheat Ridge fall in love and marry, they don't go into the marriage with the thought that it will someday end. However, in many case, couples do decide to call it quits and go their separate ways. When this happens, the couple must divide their marital property and debt between them.

The Denver Bar explains that in Colorado, property is divided equitably. People often make the mistake of assuming that property will be split evenly between them and their ex but this is not always the case. To understand how equitable distribution of property works, it is important to learn the difference between marital and separate property.

Separate vs. marital property

Separate property is typically any property that a spouse had before the marriage began. This can include property, retirement plans, pensions and anything else with a monetary value. During the marriage there is some property that may still qualify as separately owned, such as property listed in a legal agreement, gifts or inheritances.

Marital property is all other property that is acquired by either spouse during the marriage. This also includes debt accumulated by either party. In some cases, separate property can become marital property and marital property can become separate property. For example, if a spouse adds the name of the other spouse to a home's title, that house could be counted as marital property, even though it was purchased prior to the marriage. Even the increase of a retirement account could be considered marital property.

Valuation of property

The valuation of marital property and assets is important because it will influence how much each spouse will receive. According to Forbes, the valuation process begins with a valuation date. This may be the date a couple filed for legal separation or divorce, or one that they simply chose. Once the date is decided, all marital property is assigned a dollar value, based on the market for that specific date. If a home loses or gains value after that date, spouses cannot use that value in their division process.

It is vital that property be correctly valued and this should be done by an experienced financial professional. A full inventory of all marital assets, monies and properties should be compiled and then each should be assigned a value.

Splitting the marital property

When people are ready to start negotiating for the family home, the retirement plans or other assets, they should consider what their needs will be in the long term. For instance, it may be more advantageous to let a spouse have the house in return for the retirement accounts. If people are unable to draw up a divorce settlement between themselves, the matter of division will fall to a court.

In an equitable division, the court may consider more than just the property values in deciding who will get what. If a wife in Wheat Ridge has given up a job and career to remain at home with children while the husband makes the money, the judge may choose to give her more of the marital property. Likewise, the education levels, age, health, amount of property brought into the marriage and other contributions may also influence a judge's decision. For this reason, it may be beneficial to discuss your situation with an experienced attorney.