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How is Property Divided?

Colorado Property Division

Assets must be deemed either “marital property” or “separate property”. If property is agreed to be “marital”, it will be equitably (not the same as “equally”) divided according to Colorado’s statutes. Property obtained prior to the marriage is “separate,” but any increase in value during the marriage is marital property. For example, if one spouse purchased a home in 1995 (before the marriage) for $80,000, but wants to sell it in 2008 (after the divorce) for $150,000, then the increase in value($70,000) is considered “marital” property.
However, some property is always considered “ separate,” even if it was obtained during the marriage, such as an inheritance. An inheritance is separate property, however any increase in value of an inheritance during the marriage will be considered marital property.

Can I keep my personal bank account? It’s only in my name, not my spouse’s?

Not necessarily. According to Colorado law, both spouses must provide the Court (and one another) with financial documents in order to best ascertain the value of assets obtained during the marriage. In other words, you must disclose all financial documentation, and then it will be up to the Court to decide what is “separate” property, and what must be divided between spouses. Even though your bank account is only in your name it is still going to be considered marital property if:

  1. Not necessarily. According to Colorado law, both spouses must provide the Court (and one another) with financial documents in order to best ascertain the value of assets obtained during the marriage. In other words, you must disclose all financial documentation, and then it will be up to the Court to decide what is “separate” property, and what must be divided between spouses. Even though your bank account is only in your name it is still going to be considered marital property if:
  2. The funds you deposited were earned during the marriage, or
  3. Even if you only have funds in the account from before your marriage, the principal amount will be separate funds but the interest earned on funds or any increase in value to the account during your marriage is considered marital property.

Who takes on the marital debt?

Marital debt is “equitably” distributed in the same manner as assets. Normally, the party who is allowed to keep a certain asset (say, a car or a home), will likely be responsible for the corresponding debt.

Do I need to sell the house?

It depends. The house is a marital asset if it was purchased during the marriage. How marital assets are divided depends on the circumstances of your case. If you are able to keep the house in a division of assets, then you will also have to look at your ability to pay the mortgage and expenses. Maintenance/Alimony may come into play or not depending on your circumstances. Suffice it to say that the question of keeping the house can only be answered by your attorney after looking at all of the circumstances of your case.
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