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How Does Property Get Divided In Colorado?

In Colorado, property is divided and awarded to each spouse in a manner the court "deems just after considering all relevant factors." CO Rev Stat § 14-10-113 (2016). The factors are interpreted based on the unique circumstances of each case. While the courts tend to favor an equal distribution of property, the law does not require a strict 50-50 division but rather an "equitable" or "fair" distribution.

Property Division Factors

  • Here are the factors the court considers in property distribution as part of a divorce:
  • Contributions of each spouse to acquiring marital property, including as a homemaker
  • Value of the property to be divided
  • Each spouse's economic circumstances at the time of property division
  • Consideration of awarding family home to parent with whom children spend majority of time
  • Nonmarital or separate property and any commingling, increase or decrease in value

Common Issues With Property Division

Property division can be a divisive issue in any divorce. Common issues and disagreements that arise include the award of the homestead, differing opinions about property valuation, the character of separate property (whether it became marital in part or in total), income determinations for business owners or self-employed and spousal maintenance as it relates to property award.

Business Interests Must Be Addressed

If either spouse has a business or is a partner in a business, the value of the business as a marital asset must be considered.

  • If the business existed before the marriage, the marital property interest is the increase in value of the business during the marriage.
  • If the business was started during the marriage, the marital property interest is the actual value of the business.

Determining either the increase in value or the actual value of a business is usually accomplished with the assistance of a business valuation. Divorcing parties who ignore this type of asset often do not receive a fair division of marital assets. 

Pension And Retirement Accounts Must Be Divided

Another common issue is the division of pensions or retirement accounts. All funds earned during the marriage are considered to be marital assets and are subject to division. The increase in value during the marriage of a pre-existing retirement account is also subject to division at the time of divorce. It is important to identify and account for these types of assets when dividing property in a divorce. A large pre-marital retirement account that is not divided can also be an economic circumstance for the court to consider when dividing marital assets. 

As with any aspect of a divorce, getting counsel from an experienced divorce attorney is critical to protecting your property rights. The difference can be in the thousands, tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars which can have a huge impact on your outcome in a divorce.

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