A Singular Focus On Family Law Matters

How does a judge make decisions about property in a divorce?

December 21, 2020 | Firm News

Splitting up marital property is often one of the most difficult parts of a divorce. Each spouse may want to keep the same assets or might feel like they should receive more than the other. If a couple does not have a marital agreement and can’t reach terms for splitting up their property, the courts will eventually hear their case and make a determination.

Contested divorce proceedings usually involve each spouse giving their side of the situation and submitting financial documentation to the courts. After reviewing everything, the judge will be the one who makes decisions about who gets what. Their property settlement order will outline how to handle jointly-owned debts and assets alike.

If a Colorado family judge is the one who will make the decisions about your property in a divorce, what factors influence their decisions?

The judge wants to enter a fair ruling

You’ve probably heard some horror story about a cheating spouse who kept everything in the divorce and left their ex basically destitute. Unless the couple in question has an ironclad prenuptial agreement, that kind of situation won’t occur in Colorado.

State laws about property division make it clear that equitable distribution is the priority. The judge should try to determine what is a fair and appropriate way to split the property and debts acquired by the spouses over the course of their marriage. While fair may not be even, it also won’t involve one spouse getting everything and the other getting nothing.

What marital considerations affect property division?

Under Colorado family law, the judge has an obligation to consider specific factors from a household when making decisions about splitting up property. Some of those factors include:

  • The length of the marriage
  • The earning potential of each spouse
  • The paid and unpaid contributions of each spouse to the household
  • The value of any separate property held by each spouse
  • Any dissipation of or increase in the value of marital property

Although in some cases a 50-50 split might be the outcome, most property settlements in Colorado are far more nuanced because of the attention to factors like future earning potential and unpaid contributions to the household. Verifying what assets you have and finding ways to explain your needs and wishes in court can help you secure a positive and appropriate outcome to your contested divorce.

Stahly LLC is now Stahly Mehrtens Miner LLC, with three offices in Boulder, Denver and Steamboat Springs. Learn More