A primary concern in all types of divorce is the classification of property and its division. This process can be more complex in high-asset divorces as well as marriages that began later in life, but asset division is a common factor in most divorce agreements. Jefferson County courts are required to craft an equitable division of assets, excluding non-marital property, when divorcing parties cannot reach an acceptable agreement.
The first step in either negotiating a settlement or reaching a judicial settlement is to separate marital from non-marital property. Under state law, all property belongs to the marriage until classified otherwise. Some non-marital exemptions are gifts and inheritances received by one party, property in possession prior to the marriage and anything the couple made specifically exempt from joint ownership, such as in a prenuptial agreement.
Equitable division is the goal of the court, but this is not the same as an equal division. In some cases, the couple's home may be sold with the proceeds split evenly. The court may award the home to a primary caregiver of children in another divorce case. Assets with sentimental value, such as family heirlooms and artwork, could be appraised by the court, or the couple may agree that the personal value is greater than actual value. Notably, marital assets typically also include any value gains to non-marital property.
In negotiation and litigation, each party to divorce has a stake in ensuring their contributions to the marriage are not discounted. Other general concerns include a full accounting of the other party's assets and continuation of a standard of living equivalent to that enjoyed in the marriage. With simple property division and cases involving complex assets, like retirement accounts and business interests, divorcing couples may benefit from the assistance of an attorney.
Source: Colorado Judicial Branch, "Property Division", October 09, 2014