When going through a divorce or legal separation in Colorado, there are three main things that must be addressed.
If the parties have children, then the first thing is all of the issues having to do with the kids, such as child support, decision-making responsibility, parenting time, etc. The second thing that must be addressed is whether or not there will be maintenance (also known as alimony or spousal support in other states), and if so, how much the maintenance payments will be and for how long the payments will continue.
The third and final issue that needs to be addressed is the division of the marital property and debts.
It is important to note that once a divorce case has been filed and the non-filing party has been served with the petition for dissolution of marriage (or legal separation) and the summons, a temporary injunction automatically goes into place, restraining both parties from transferring, encumbering, concealing, or in any way disposing of, without the consent of the other party or an order of the court, any marital property, except in the usual course of business or for the necessities of life and requiring each party to notify the other party of any proposed extraordinary expenditures and to account to the court for all extraordinary expenditures made after the injunction is in effect. Essentially, the parties are required by this injunction to maintain the status quo throughout the duration of the case.
When it comes to the division of property and debts in a divorce case, it is also important to note that Colorado is a no-fault state, which means that the law does not take into account any potential marital misconduct by either party in regard to the division of property and debts.
Colorado Revised Statute section 14-10-113 governs the division of property in Colorado divorce cases. The statute states that the Court shall set apart to each spouse his or her property and shall divide the marital property, without regard to marital misconduct, in such proportions as the Court deems just after considering all relevant factors including: the contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the marital property, including the contribution of a spouse as homemaker; the value of the property set apart to each spouse; the economic circumstances of each spouse at the time the division of property is to become effective, including the desirability of awarding the family home or the right to live therein for reasonable periods to the spouse with whom any children reside the majority of the time; and any increases or decreases in the value of the separate property for marital purposes.
An important note here is that the Court shall divide the property in a way that it deems just. This means equitable, not equal. The parties do not necessarily just split everything down the middle.
It is also important to note that under the law, only “marital property” is subject to division by the Court. Marital property is defined as all property acquired by either spouse subsequent to the marriage except: property acquired by gift, bequest, devise, or descent; property acquired in exchange for property acquired prior to the marriage or in exchange for property acquired by gift, bequest, devise, or descent; property acquired by a spouse after a decree of legal separation; and property excluded by valid agreement of the parties, such as property excluded by a prenuptial agreement.
It is extremely important in any divorce proceeding that each spouse has accurate and up to date knowledge of the entirety of the marital property that is subject to division between the parties. If you have questions about the division of property and debts in a divorce proceeding, please feel free to contact TOWN & TOWN for a free consultation. We are here to help.