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Understanding the differences between marital and separate property

| Sep 9, 2020 | Property Division

The decision to end a marriage is not an easy one. Even if it is the best solution for your future, the divorce process includes numerous complex steps centering on the determination of child support, the development of a parenting plan, and the division of assets and debts.

Many states are considered “community property” which means that all assets acquired during the marriage belong to both spouses equally. The community property begins at marriage and ends when the couple physically separates. Colorado, however, is a state which follows equitable distribution guidelines. In these situations, equitable refers to a “fair division” rather than an “equal division.”

In general, marital property refers to the assets that were acquired for the benefit of both spouses during the marriage. A new home, for example, family vehicles or a book collection would be considered marital property. Separate property, however, typically falls into one of two categories – either an inheritance or a gift. Complicating matters further, it is not uncommon for an inheritance or a gift to be given to both spouses. For example, if the couple received an inheritance that was jointly titled, it would be considered marital property and thus subject to equitable division.

Additionally, while the inheritance might be considered separate, any appreciation in value would likely be considered marital property.

In determining equitable division, the court will carefully evaluate numerous factors, including:

  • The duration of the marriage
  • How custody and parenting time are divided
  • The financial needs and liabilities of each spouse
  • The amount contributed by each spouse to the combined marital property

It is important to work with an experienced divorce attorney who understands the nuances of the law. Your lawyer will provide the guidance and representation you need through every stage of the divorce process.