If you find yourself facing the dreaded words of a spouse wanting a divorce, you may be overwhelmed with all the changes to come. You may have many questions, wondering if you will lose everything you’ve worked for in the divorce settlement. In such cases, it is important to obtain a correct understanding of Colorado Laws governing what is considered marital property. These laws are fundamental in determining what assets will be split between you and your ex-spouse and what assets will be untouchable even during a divorce.
Marital property as defined by the state of Colorado, includes anything that was purchased or gifted to the couple during the course of the marriage. There is protection for each spouse as properties obtained before the marriage will not be considered marital assets but instead are considered separate property. Additionally, gifts or inherited items that were willed directly to one party will also remain with that party and will not be considered a marital asset. Immediately proceeding a legal separation, any additional assets obtained will no longer be considered marital property.
Colorado Equitable Distribution Law
Colorado law favors equitable distribution instead of community property; henceforth, just because you are married does not automatically guarantee property and assets will be split evenly. Asset distribution will instead be determined by equitable division, meaning the spouse who earns the most will receive the most in the divorce settlement. Other factors such as the economic situation of each spouse will be taken into consideration when distributing assets. Individual circumstances regarding children will also take precedence. Simply put, the spouse with primary custody may be awarded rights to the family home as he or she will be the primary caregiver for the children.
Additionally, these laws apply to instances of death. Colorado law works differently from many others states where the surviving spouse automatically inherits the entirety of the assets from the deceased spouse. Instead upon the passing of a spouse in Colorado, the surviving spouse inherits merely half of the marital assets, while the other half is still considered property of the deceased spouse. This renders the deceased’s will the final say in what becomes of their half the assets. The living spouse may still inherit property if listed in the will and may even claim an elective share if not listed in the will. It is important to note that since common laws marriage remains legal and recognized in Colorado, the remaining spouse of a common law marriage will still be eligible to receive an inheritance.