Negotiating the division of assets during a divorce is commonplace. As many are aware of, Colorado is a state where marital assets are divided in a fair and equitable manner that need not be half. Examples of non-marital assets that are often not divided included inheritance, assets protected by a prenuptial agreement, or assets that were not co-mingled after marriage.
More than keeping separate accounts
The above examples come into the marriage as separate assets, but there must be special care in keeping them separate. Any assets or income accrued after the marriage will likely qualify as marital assets, regardless of where they are placed or how they are handled.
Moreover, couples tend to start merging their finances for convenience, so those individual assets often become mixed or co-mingled assets. Examples include:
- Making a home bought by an individual the family dwelling
- Allowing an individual’s vehicle purchased before the marriage to be used by the spouse or family
- Using inherited money to make improvements to the family home
- Allowing spouses access to individual accounts
- Paying joint bills with funds from an individual account
Ways to protect individual assets
There are no ironbound guarantees, even if there is a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, but some sound strategies for protecting a spouse’s personal assets include:
- Print out and save bank statements and investment accounts from the month before the marriage
- Put individual assets like an inheritance received during the marriage in a separate account
- Do upgrades to the individual's property before the marriage
Finding solutions when it gets complicated
Those couples who have been married for a long time or seen a significant shift in their finances will often have difficulty sorting out whether assets were co-mingled or not -- even if there are agreements in place.
However, the couple can work with an experienced family law attorney who understands the laws involving dividing assets here in Colorado. They can protect their clients’ bests interests throughout the divorce process, ensuring that there is a fair and equitable agreement where an individual’s assets remain theirs and marital assets are shared accordingly.