The differences between marital and separate property in a CO divorce

The Colorado court divides marital property in an equitable fashion, and may consider certain details when determining who gets what.

Not all marriages in America are 'till death do us part.' In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half of all marriages in the U.S. end in divorce. There are many topics that must be discussed when going through the divorce process. However, many couples agree that dividing up property and assets may be one of the most difficult. Colorado residents acquire many things during the course of a marriage, and some items may be more important to one spouse than the other.

During a heated divorce, dividing these assets and items may be even harder. In Colorado, these crucial decisions are left in the hands of a court-appointed judge. Under the equitable distribution of property model, the judge has a large amount of freedom when it comes to deciding which spouse will receive what in the divorce decree.

Separate vs. marital property

According to Forbes, property and assets can be labeled as either separate or marital property. Any items that a spouse owned coming into the marriage, including property, retirement plans, inheritance and any other assets, is considered separate. Separate property is generally not eligible for division. Yet, there are some circumstances where separate property could transform into marital property. For instance, if one spouse had inheritance money prior to the marriage, but deposited that money into a joint bank account during the marriage, that money may become marital and qualify for division. Separate property may also include any gifts given specifically to a spouse by family or friends, as well as any property or assets obtained after the couple separated.

Marital property, on the other hand, describes all of the assets and items amassed during the course of the marriage. Not only does this include real estate, vehicles, savings plans and life insurance policies, but there are other marital assets that couples may not think about. Any money earned in a 401K plan, stock options, pension plans and social security benefits during the marriage is subject to division. Items, such as businesses, patents, country club memberships, costly art collections and rental property should also be considered.

When to seek legal counsel

It may be difficult to know what is considered marital and non-marital property when filing for divorce. In some cases, a spouse may try to hide certain assets in an attempt to keep them from being divided. An attorney who is familiar with Colorado's divorce laws may be able to provide essential legal counsel during the marriage dissolution process, and to ensure you get everything you deserve in your divorce settlement.

Keywords: divorce, marital, separate, property