Colorado is a marital property state, which is also sometimes referred to as “equitable distribution.” Marital property generally refers to any property acquired by either spouse during the length of the marriage. In contrast, separate property is generally anything of value that was acquired before the marriage began. There are a few exceptions to both types of property.
Inheritances and gifts acquired during a marriage do not count as marital property, though gifts from one spouse to another can be considered either marital property or separate property, depending on the circumstances.
Unless intended otherwise, separate property used for purchases, exchanges, or transformed into different property will remain separate. For instance, if cash from stocks purchased prior to marriage are used to purchase different stocks during marriage, the new stocks will still be considered separate property.
If a home is purchased as separate property, then during the course of a marriage mortgage payments are made with marital funds or the value of the property increases, the value of the payments and the increase in value would be subject to division during divorce. In these cases, the value of the home at the date of marriage would be needed to be determined what portion of the home’s value is up for division.
Separate property can be protected or be changed through the parties’ written agreement; this can be done by entering into either a pre- or post-nuptial agreement. These are contracts that predetermine the nature of property during the marriage, as well as how it will be divided in case of a divorce. These documents can be complex, so a lawyer should be used to draft it, as well as to fully advise you of your rights.
For more info on Marital Property, click here.