As many of our readers know, Colorado is not a community property state when it comes to divorce. It's considered a separate property or equitable distribution state.
Unlike in community property states, anything deemed to be marital property in Colorado is not assumed to be owned equally by both spouses and does not have to be divided equally in a divorce. Instead, it's divided "equitably." In many cases, that means that whichever spouse earns more gets a larger share of the marital property in a divorce.
Let's be clear just what marital property is. It's generally anything received or purchased during the marriage. This could include homes, cars, boats, home furnishings, collectibles and gifts.
By contrast, separate property includes anything that is owned by one of the spouses prior to the marriage. It can also include property that's excluded in a legal agreement, as well as individual inheritances. If a couple had a legal separation prior to divorce, any property acquired by the individual spouses during that separation period is also considered separate property.
Of course, couples can determine how they wish to divide their property during a divorce without giving the decision to a court. Many Colorado couples who are able to work through their divorce settlement and child custody issues amicably, or at least civilly, choose some form of alternative dispute resolution such as collaborative divorce. This can decrease the cost of the process and ease the stress on the couple and, more importantly, on their children. It also keeps the decisions in their hands rather than that of a judge.
Source: FindLaw, "Colorado Marital Property Laws," Jim Halfens, June 26, 2015