Colorado Divorce Law 101: Understanding the Basics of Marital Property

Daniel Noffsinger - Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Marriage is a joyous event that involves the union of a couple and the joining of families. Married couples (at least most couples) do not enter into a marriage with the expectation that the marriage will end in divorce or dissolution. Unfortunately, the stark reality exists that a significant number of marriages end prematurely through divorce or dissolution. According to data from the United States census, the rate of divorce in 2009 throughout the United States was3.4 divorces per 1,000 people. The rate of divorce in Colorado during the same period was slightly higher at 4.2 divorces per 1,000 people.

While the divorce rate has been steadily declining over the past decade, divorces are still quite prevalent throughout Colorado and the United States. It is important therefore to understand what rights one has should a marriage end prematurely in divorce or dissolution. One of the most frequently asked questions for a person going through a divorce is how the couple’s property will be divided between them. Colorado, as with all states, has its own statute governing the division of distribution of property upon divorce.

Colorado’s Marital Property Rules

Some states are a community property state, which means that certain property accumulated by a couple during marriage is jointly owned by the couple. Other states are known as separate property states. In these states, each couple typically retains sole ownership of assets and property obtained during the marriage. Colorado is an “equitable division” state.

In Colorado, the first step to determine how property should be divided in a divorce proceeding is to classify property as either separate or marital property. Property that is classified as separate will remain with the respective owner of the property. Property that is deemed marital property, however, is subject to division by a court. Under Colorado law, marital property is defined as such:

all property acquired by either spouse subsequent to the marriage and prior to a decree of legal separation is presumed to be marital property, regardless of whether title is held individually or by the spouses in some form of coownership such as joint tenancy, tenancy in common, tenancy by the entirety, and community property.

Marital property, however, does not include (1) property acquired by gift, bequest, devise, or descent; (2) property acquired in exchange for property acquired prior to the marriage or in exchange for property acquired by gift, bequest, devise, or descent; (3) property acquired by a spouse after a decree of legal separation; and (4) property excluded by valid agreement of the parties.

Once property is classified as separate or marital, a court will divide the marital property, without regard to marital misconduct, in such proportions as the court deems just. The court will consider several factors in determining what is just, including:

  • 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 to each spouse;
  • The economic circumstances of each spouse; and
  • Any increases or decreases in the value of the separate property of the spouse during the marriage.

How property will be divided between couples is invariably fact specific and will depend on the circumstances of each couple.

Contact a Colorado Springs Divorce Attorney

If you have any questions regarding property subject to division in a divorce, an experienced Colorado Springs attorney can help. A Colorado Springs  divorce attorney at Noffsinger Law can help you through the divorce process to ensure that you obtain the property you deserve. Furthermore, if you are getting married, Noffsinger Law can help you draft a prenuptial agreement to protect your property during marriage.

Contact a Colorado Springs divorce attorney today at Noffsinger Law for help with all marriage and divorce law needs.