Unlike the divorce process in community property states, Colorado’s equitable distribution laws seek to divide property so as to be fair to both parties — but not necessarily equal.
The court will consider whether the property is marital or nonmarital.
Marital and nonmarital property
Generally, property acquired by either spouse during the marriage is marital property. Separate or nonmarital property belonged to a spouse before marriage and remains his or her own. If a separate asset has increased in value during the marriage, the increase is a marital asset.
Some property acquired after marriage is not considered to be marital, for instance, gifts and bequests. An exception may be a gift from one spouse to the other, which may be separate or marital property.
Any property acquired after the issuance of a decree of legal separation is not considered marital property.
Considerations in property division
When deciding how to divide property in a divorce settlement, the court does not penalize a party for marital misconduct. It considers “all relevant factors” such as the parties’ ages, health, current and future incomes, as well as the standard of living in the marriage.
The Colorado statutes direct the court to consider:
- The amount each spouse contributed towards acquiring the marital property, including the homemaker’s role
- The amount each spouse possesses in separate property
- Each spouse’s economic circumstances, including the primary parent’s access to the family home
- Whether depletion of a spouse’s separate property occurred for the benefit of the marriage, or the asset has decreased or increased in value
For maximum control, divorcing spouses may choose to work out a fair division of property outside of court. If the court agrees the agreement is fair, it will approve it.