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How Colorado’s Equitable Distribution Laws Impact A Divorce

February 9, 2024 | Divorce

In Colorado, the court divides marital property “equitably” between divorcing spouses. An equitable division of marital property is as close to fair as possible, but it is not necessarily equal.

Colorado’s equitable division laws apply to both marital assets and debts. Spouses are encouraged to reach a mutually acceptable property agreement for the court’s approval whenever possible. Otherwise, the court will make property orders on their behalf.

If you face a Colorado divorce, you must know the state’s equitable distribution laws. They could significantly impact your divorce and your financial future. Read the following, then contact an experienced Colorado divorce attorney for a confidential consultation.

What is Marital Property in Colorado?

Marital property is divided fairly between the spouses in a Colorado divorce. Marital property is any property acquired after the parties are married. It does not matter how that property is titled.

Marital property does not include a spouse’s separate property. Separate property is defined in C.R.S. 14-10-113 and includes:

  • Property acquired by gift, bequest, devise, or descent;
  • Property acquired in exchange for property acquired before the marriage or in exchange for property acquired by gift, bequest, devise, or descent;
  • Property acquired by a spouse after a decree of legal separation; and
  • Property excluded by valid agreement of the parties.

Separate property can easily mix and become indistinguishable from marital property. It is vital that separate property be traceable to its original separate source.

There is an exception to the rule on separate property. Appreciation on separate property is deemed marital when the appreciation occurred during the marriage.

Income generated from separate property is also considered marital property in Colorado.

The Equitable Distribution Process in Colorado

The equitable distribution process in Colorado requires each marital asset and debt to be identified and valued. The time, expense, and difficulty of this process depend on spousal cooperation and the complexity of assets.

Spouses with complex asset portfolios often require a CPA or forensic accountant to assist with valuations. If the spouses cannot agree on asset values, the court will hear testimony and review evidence from each side to determine disputed values.

Spouses who cannot reach a property division agreement will have one imposed on them by the court. If the spouses simply need help figuring out what their options are, they can consult with a Boulder mediation lawyer. If they still are not able to come to an agreement, they will continue the process through the court system.

The court will consider the following statutory factors when making its decision:

  • The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the marital property, including the contribution of a spouse as homemaker;
  • The value of the property set apart for each spouse;
  • The economic circumstances of each spouse at the time the division of property is to become effective, including the desirability of awarding the family home or the right to live therein for reasonable periods to the spouse with whom any children reside the majority of the time; and
  • Any increases or decreases in the value of the separate property of the spouse during the marriage or the depletion of the separate property for marital purposes.

The court will listen to testimony from the spouses regarding their desired property division. The court will also take any relevant evidence into account. However, marital misconduct is rarely a factor in matters of property division.

If you want to discuss Colorado’s legal property division process or learn more about resolving property disputes with your spouse outside of court, an experienced attorney from a Boulder divorce law firm can help.

Contact an Experienced Boulder Divorce Attorney Today

If you are unsure of how to navigate the court system and Colorado’s equitable distribution laws, consider contacting a divorce attorney to help you get started. Stahly Mehrtens Miner LLC is proud to offer clients the information they need to make intelligent divorce decisions that will serve them into the future. Attorney Todd Stahly is a recognized leader in family law, and Stahly Mehrtens Miner LLC is an experienced Colorado family law firm.

Schedule a consultation with a skilled divorce attorney now by calling Stahly Mehrtens Miner LLC at 855-963-4968 or using our online contact form. We have offices in Boulder, Denver, and Steamboat Springs, Colorado.


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