One of the major issues that leads couples into a contested divorce is deciding how they will divide assets after they go their separate ways. The problem that often arises is that people place great value on property that they acquired during a marriage, and unless they are willing to compromise, things tend to get very complicated. That’s usually the case when couples who can’t come to an agreement go to court and try to convince a judge that their claim on property is stronger than their soon-to-be ex-spouse’s claim.
There is often confusion about the exact definition of a marital asset. In other words, what assets are actually eligible for division between couples during a divorce? The answer is that a marital asset is any asset that was acquired during the marriage. For example, if a couple married and then bought a house together after two years, that house is considered a marital asset because it was purchased during the course of the marriage. However, any asset that each spouse brought into the marriage is typically that person’s property and not subject to division. But if an asset that is brought into a marriage increases in value during that marriage, that increase is considered a marital asset. So let’s say that a woman brings an antique into a marriage that is worth $50,000. If that antique’s value increases to $100,000 during the course of the marriage, the $50,000 in appreciation would be considered a marital asset that is eligible for division between both spouses. There are other unique circumstances and variations that complicate what is considered a marital asset, and that is why it’s so important for you to hire an experienced divorce attorney. But in general, this is a good overview for you to understand how a court might categorize what is and what isn’t a marital asset.
In Colorado, division of marital assets comes under statute CRS 14-10-113 that details how property is handled in divorces. Colorado is an equitable division state, which means that judges will attempt to divide property in a way that is fair to both sides. However, this is very different from states that operate under the 50 percent division of property, because in those states, judges have no discretion in how they allocate property in a divorce, and must give each spouse half of all the assets. So what does ‘equitable division’ really mean? It means that a judge will make a decision that he or she thinks is fair to both sides, but that doesn’t mean that each spouse will get half of all the assets. In fact, a judge will review several factors before determining how an asset is divided, including:
Length of the marriage
Health and age of both spouses
Existing income and future earning potential of both spouses
Standard of living established in the marriage
The value attached to a spouse who stayed home to care for children (if involved) and the home.
The value of the financial sacrifices one spouse made to help the other spouse’s educational goals, such as paying student loans.
Because judges have such wide discretion when determining equitable distribution of assets, it’s important that you hire an experienced attorney to help present the strongest case possible. At Kinnaird Law, we can negotiate on your behalf to ensure that you get the assets that you are entitled to, and we also provide you with honest counsel to help you make the best possible decision. Please contact us today to schedule a free consultation, and find out how we can put an action plan together to achieve great results.