Property and Debt: How the Division of Assets in Divorce Works

Laura E. Shapiro -

In Colorado, nearly 9% of marriages end in divorce (this is slightly higher than the national average divorce rate of 7.7%). 

If you are considering a divorce or in the process of divorcing your spouse, you may be wondering how your assets will be divided.

This is often one of the most contentious parts of divorce and ultimately, who gets what depends on several different factors. 

Read on to learn more about how the courts determine the division of assets in divorce. 

Division of marital property and debt

Community Property vs. Marital Property

Some states are community property states, which means that all marital assets are split equally. In some divorces, this can make things easier. 

Colorado, on the other hand, is not a community property state; it is an equitable division state. That means that property is divided in a manner that is “fair”. This may mean that they are divided 50/50, but this is not required. 

Assets acquired during the marriage that are not considered separate property are divided between the spouses in a manner that is considered fair.

These assets may include: 

  • cash and bank accounts
  • investments
  • retirement accounts 
  • stocks
  • 529 Savings Plan
  • frequent flier miles 
  • real estate
  • vehicles (includes boats, RVs, etc.)
  • businesses
  • personal property 
  • household items 
  • pets 

To determine a fair division of assets, the courts consider several different factors. 

What Is Fair and Equitable? 

The Court does not have to divide the assets equally. Rather, the Court needs to divide assets in a manner that is fair and equitable. To do this, they consider things such as: 

  • your contribution to the acquisition of the property/item (including one spouse’s contribution as a homemaker)
  • economic circumstances of each spouse at the time of the division 
  • separate property that one spouse has

Separate property is property you inherited, property received via a gift, or that you owned before the marriage. It must have been remained titled in your name alone. However, the increase in value of a separate property is marital.

What About Debts?

If one or both spouses accumulate debts during the marriage, those debts are marital.

Like assets, debts are divided equitably. One spouse may get a large portion of the debt if they earn more, for example.

Or, the spouse who accumulated the debt may be responsible for repaying a larger portion of it. 

One option that gives you and your spouse more control over the division of debts is divorce mediation. The Court will require you to attend mediation

Division of Assets in Divorce Must Be Fair 

Divorce and splitting assets, especially if the process is contentious, is often one of the most stressful parts of the divorce process.

Now that you know a bit more about the division of assets in divorce, you can go into the process with a clear understanding of how you might fare. 

If you need an experienced family attorney to represent you in your divorce, contact us today. We specialize in divorce cases, child custody, division of assets, and mediation. 

Laura E. Shapiro

Laura Shapiro is an award-winning Family Law Attorney with 40+ years of experience. Laura practices Family Law exclusively with her primary focus being divorce and child custody matters.

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