What Does Equitable Distribution Mean?
Equal division of property would mean that you and your spouse split all marital assets and debts right down the middle, regardless of who earned more during the marriage or who racked up debt. In an equitable distribution scenario, this isn’t necessarily the case.
If, for example, both parties contribute income to a marriage but one earns significantly more, that person who earns less or has a greater need for support could try to claim a larger share of marital assets. Of course, that person might also be assigned a larger share of marital debt, in accordance with his/her income. An experienced lawyer can help you to determine what is fair and equitable based on legal standards and precedents.
Marital and Separated Property
Once you get married, you might assume that what’s yours and your spouse’s is now “ours”. However, this isn’t always true. Marital assets and debts are generally considered to be any wealth or debt amassed after the date of marriage. The things you bring with you into a marriage, and even some things you get following marriage, could be considered separate property, owned by only one spouse.
For example, if you own a home before you get married and you never add your spouse’s name to the title, it could be considered separated property and not eligible for division during a divorce. The same goes for items like heirloom jewelry or furniture, which will be returned to the spouse whose family they came from. However, any increase in the value of those assets IS considered marital and therefore subject to division between you and your spouse.
You are also entitled to inheritance received during the marriage if it was solely imparted to you and you did not comingle it with joint assets. Any gains made on the inheritance during the marriage are subject to division, and if you comingle it with joint assets (as by placing it in a joint account or using some of it to purchase an item for your spouse or the family), the inheritance will become marital property, and thus divisible during divorce.
What about debts? If one person enters the marriage with student loan debt, for example, it will remain that person’s responsibility following divorce. If this debt was amassed during the marriage, the division will depend on the court. Some judges deem student loan debt a personal responsibility, while others feel it enhances earning potential that will benefit the other spouse through increased alimony or child support, and thus rule that the debt should be shared.
In short, property distribution in Colorado can be extremely complex and confusing, but you don’t have to muddle through on your own. Contact the qualified and caring professionals at Curtis Law Firm today at 303-625-6894 to get the expert legal advice and representation you need.