Who gets the vacation home in a divorce?

When you and your partner share significant real estate assets, you may rightfully have concerns about who would receive this property in a divorce. Whether you have a modest ski cottage or a dramatic beach chalet, Colorado requires an equitable division of marital property in a divorce.

Explore the factors that determine who receives specific real estate holdings when a marriage ends.

Separate property

If one spouse owned the home before the marriage, it constitutes separate property only if neither partner paid the mortgage or made upgrades to the home with funds earned during the marriage. Property that only one spouse inherited during the marriage is his or her separate property. A home that someone specifically willed to both spouses is marital property.

When you sell a gifted or inherited home that qualifies as separate property, the proceeds from the sale are also separate property. If you use those proceeds to buy another vacation property, that home also falls into the category of separate property.

Equitable division considerations

When spouses cannot agree on division among themselves, the judge will divide marital property fairly. This does not necessarily mean division will be equal. The court will consider:

  • Both financial and nonfinancial contributions of each person to the marriage, including raising children and caring for the home
  • The economic circumstances of each spouse
  • The value of each spouse’s separate property
  • Whether separate property increased or decreased in value during the marriage and/or when used for marital purposes

The judge may order a professional appraisal of your real estate holdings. If you feel strongly about retaining a specific property in a divorce, you may consider designating that home as separate property in a premarital or postmarital agreement. Alternatively, you can give up other assets to your spouse in exchange for a specific vacation home when negotiating property division. When neither party agrees on the fate of the home, the court can require its sale and will divide the proceeds.

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