FORT COLLINS FAMILY LAW FIRM EXPLAINS EQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION OF PROPERTY
Unlike community property states, where marital property is split up equally during a divorce, Colorado is an equitable distribution state. This means courts look to divide marital property in a way that is fair based on the specific circumstances of the divorcing couple. With experience in family law and divorce litigation, the attorneys at Shufflebarger Law Office, P.C. in Fort Collins work to help our clients achieve satisfactory settlement agreements and court orders for property division. Read our reviews!
DEDICATED LITIGATORS SKILLED AT DETERMINING HOW PROPERTY WILL BE DIVIDED
All property not individually owned by either spouse is considered part of the marital estate. For a meaningful equitable distribution, full financial disclosure from both parties is necessary. Colorado courts consider various factors to devise fair plans for splitting up marital property. These include:
- Each spouse's contribution to the marital estate — A judge will look into how each spouse contributed to the marital property financially, as a homemaker or in other ways.
- Each spouse's income capacity — Individual earning potential will be reviewed to determine each spouse's relative financial needs.
- Separate property value — If one spouse owns significantly less separate property than the other, a court may find it appropriate to award them more of the marital estate. Neither spouse should be left destitute.
- Separate property used for marital purposes — A spouse who sells or otherwise uses their own property to pay family expenses may be granted a larger return of the marital property. Courts also examine changes in separate property value that occurred during the marriage.
A judge will also weigh the desirability of awarding the family home to either spouse. If children will spend more time living with one parent, that parent may have a stronger claim to the home.
Courts do not consider marital misconduct, such as cheating, when handling asset division.
Our attorneys help negotiate and draft property division agreements outside of court through mediation or negotiation, keeping our clients' well-being as a top priority.
EXPERIENCED ATTORNEYS DISTINGUISH MARITAL AND SEPARATE PROPERTY
The individual property each spouse brings into the marriage is classified as separate property, whereas property acquired by either spouse during the marriage is marital property. So money in one partner's bank account prior to marriage is his or her own, while funds added to the account after the wedding day belong to the marital estate. There are a few exceptions, however. A gift or inheritance earned by one partner during the marriage is considered separate property and property acquired in exchange for separate property is also separate property. There may be circumstances in which separate property is converted to marital property, such as where one spouse pays off a mortgage on a house owned by the other. If a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement is in place, it may include instructions for classification of property upon divorce. Our firm can guide you through the equitable distribution process and help you seek a satisfactory asset division outcome.
INFORMED COUNSELORS DISCUSS SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR RETIREMENT ACCOUNTS AND SSD BENEFITS
Our attorneys have experience managing complex marital estates with special considerations, including when 401k and other retirement accounts are involved. It is important to know that increases in the value of your retirement account during your marriage are generally considered to be marital property.
If you or your spouse receives Social Security Disability (SSD) or other entitlements, such as military benefits, different factors — such as your ages and the length of the marriage — will be used to determine whether these are separate or marital property.
Contact an established Colorado law firm for help with property division
From our office in Fort Collins, Colorado, we advise divorcing spouses in Larimer and Weld Counties on matters of property division. To schedule a consultation with Shufflebarger Law Office, P.C., call us at (970) 599-1581 or contact us online.