What Do I Get and Who’s Paying for It? Division of Property and Debts in a Colorado Dissolution of Marriage

Thankfully Colorado is a little more protective than some states when it comes to property and debts when you go through a divorce. Unlike some states, Colorado is a marital property state, not a communal property state. That means what you accrue or become indebted to during the marriage is only what has to be decided upon in a dissolution, separation, or annulment. This can be a saving throw for anyone who comes into a marriage with large assets, or has a spouse who thinks running up a huge credit card bill after the legal separation is filed will burn the other party.  You are not going to end up with the Aspen house they owned years before you got together, after all.

What is gained, whether it be assets or liabilities during the marriage or union is up for division under Colorado law, and can include just about anything. Real estate, vehicles, the retirement and investment accounts, bank accounts, household goods, collectibles, business interests and even pets all fall under this category. It also includes increases/decreases in valuation on separate assets during the course of the marriage. Separate property is what you come into the marriage with, or gain by inheritance or gift during the course of the marriage.

The court will require a written agreement between the two parties to hash out who keeps what, who is paying which bill and how much, and a timeline if they feel it is necessary. Several factors go into the court approving the agreement or sending it back for revision, including the length of time married, how much each party is ending up with (Colorado leans to “separate but equal”), the contribution each made to the asset/liability, the economic condition for each party at the time of separation, and if there are children involved. The court will keep sending it back, too, if it feels one party is trying to take advantage of the other with the agreement.

Division of Property and Debt agreements tend to be messy, testy, and time consuming. They apply to separations where the parties are not legally married but have joint assets, and “appear” to be functioning as a couple. It is almost always in your best interest to get a good Family Law lawyer involved to negotiate these agreements. They know the rules, they know what else to ask for, list, and decide so the agreement is fair. They can also ferret out information you might need if someone is trying to hide things. Patricia Perello in Colorado Springs is really good at this, and her first meeting with you is free.