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Denver Divorce Attorneys

Denver Property Division Attorneys

Property Distribution in a Colorado Divorce

When a divorce is imminent, there are many factors to consider. Often, one of the most important and highly contested ones for Colorado couples is the division of property. Each state has its own laws that determine how property is divided amongst couples who are getting divorced. In some cases, couples are able to come to a mutually agreeable division about who gets what, but more often than not, there are disagreements that must be worked out before a divorce can move forward. When working out such a disagreement, it is best to work with a Denver property distribution lawyer to ensure that you are receiving what is fair.

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Colorado’s Requirement of Equitable Division of Property

In Colorado, couples are entitled to equitable property division; it is not a community property state. It is essential to note that this does not mean split evenly or equally. It means that the division of property must be fair. 

Colorado Revised Statutes §14-10-113 addresses the disposition of property in a divorce in Colorado or even legal separation. If a couple cannot come to an agreement on their own, they will need an experienced property distribution lawyer in Denver and will need to go before an arbitrator or a judge who will determine the outcome. 

If a judge decides how to divide the property, they will consider the following factors in their decision:

  • The financial conditions of each spouse
  • The parent who has physical custody of the children the majority of the time as they are usually granted the family home or the right to live in the family home for a certain time period after the divorce
  • Changes in the value of a spouse’s separate property during the marriage
  • Changes in value to the spouse’s separate property for marital purposes
  • The value of the property assigned to each spouse

Property Division in Colorado Quick Guide

  • Equitable division ≠ Equal division: Colorado courts seek fairness, not a 50/50 split.
  • Marital fault is irrelevant: Courts don’t consider wrongdoing like affairs or abuse in property division.
  • Factors considered by the court include:
    • Contributions to marital property acquisition, including homemaking.
    • Economic circumstances of each spouse.
    • Changes in separate property values during marriage.
    • Depletion of separate property for marital purposes.
Marital vs. Separate Property:
  • Marital property: Acquired during marriage.
  • Separate property: Acquired before marriage, through inheritance or gifts, or after legal separation.
Appreciation on Separate Property:
  • Appreciation on separate property is considered marital property.
  • For example, if a $2M stock account grows to $6.5M during a 30-year marriage, the $4.5M appreciation is considered marital property by the court (subject to certain subtle legal debates and regulations best navigated by an attorney).
Unique Issues Couples May Encounter:
  • No-fault vs. fault-based divorce: Colorado follows a no-fault approach.
  • Economic fault: Considered when one party’s behavior harms the marital estate financially.
  • Business interests: Valuation can be contentious; different parties have opposing incentives.
  • Retirement accounts: Special rules apply for division; QDROs may be necessary.
  • Wills & Trusts: Bring added complexity; involve intersections of family law, trust law, and accounting.
  • Executive compensation: Complicated packages require expert assessment.
  • Property division strategy: Key considerations include asset values, income, tax implications, and manageability.

Navigating property division in a Colorado divorce requires a thorough understanding of equitable distribution principles, asset division and valuation, and legal strategy. Consulting with experienced professionals can help ensure a fair and favorable outcome.

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What's the Difference?

Marital Property Versus Separate Property

Before the property can be adequately divided, it must be determined if it is marital or separate property. Most assets and debts acquired by the couple during the marriage are considered marital property. If a spouse owned the property prior to the marriage or received it during the marriage as a gift or an inheritance, it is labeled as separate property. Separate property can also extend to property that was bought or exchanged with separate property. Separate property may become marital property if it is commingled with marital assets (ie. deposited into a marital account). Then, even if it was separate property and you can prove it with paper, once you commingle it becomes marital.

If the value of separate property increases during the marriage, the increase in value becomes marital property, although the original value remains separate property. However, the spouse must have a paper trail in the form of financial records or other documents to prove that it originally was separate property. With the help of a Denver property distribution attorney, you can receive the property you are entitled to through your divorce.

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Determining Property Values

Understandably, the value of property in a divorce situation can be highly contested among spouses. Once the court determines what property is separate and what property belongs to the marriage, they will assign a value to each piece of property. Some spouses will hire professional appraisers, or financial professionals such as CPAs or actuaries to help them in this process, especially for retirement accounts.

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Options for Property Division in a Divorce

There are many options for dividing property between divorcing spouses. There is no one-size-fits-all way to divide the property. Some couples prefer to strictly go by the financial value of the property at issue. Perhaps a spouse wants items of larger monetary value but is willing to make an equalizing payment to the other spouse for the property. Some spouses agree to continue to be joint owners of some property if they can get along as co-owners of that property. A property distribution attorney in Denver could assist you in getting the property distribution agreement that works for both you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse.

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Help from a Skilled Denver Property Distribution Attorney

Even if you and your spouse can agree on how property should be distributed in your Denver divorce, it is always a good idea to have a Denver property distribution attorney on your side. You want to be sure you are receiving what is fair under Colorado divorce laws. Maintaining what is yours and your rights during divorce proceedings will help your life to be easier as you move forward. Using an attorney could also help you get creative in your negotiations so that you can receive the property that you want or need. 

No matter how much or how little property you are dealing with in the dissolution of your marriage, we are here to help. Get your case started today by calling Colorado Legal Group at 720-594-7360 or request a free case evaluation online

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