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What Is Marital Property and Debt?

In a dissolution of legal separation, the court has the jurisdiction (or authority) to equitably divide and allocate marital property. Marital property includes all property obtained by a spouse during the marriage, regardless of title (it doesn't matter if the car, house, etc. is in joint title or only one name).

Marital property also includes increases in value of a spouse's premarital or separate property. For example, if your premarital residence has felt the recent effects of the Denver housing market, that appreciation during the marriage is marital property to be divided. Although you will still keep your premarital residence, the court will have to account for the marital increase in value when dividing assets.

Debt Must Also Be Divided During Divorce

Marital debt is an area that surprises many spouses. In Colorado, debt incurred during the marriage, regardless of the spouse who is responsible for paying that debt, is marital property to be divided equitably. For example, if your spouse runs up a large credit card balance in only his or her or name, that debt is still marital.

Understanding Separate Property

Exclusions to the general rule are when a spouse receives a gift, inheritance or interest in a revocable trust. That gift or inheritance received during the marriage is separate property. However, if the gift or inheritance has increased in value during the marriage, then that increase in value will be marital property. For example, if your inheritance of $100,000 is placed in an investment account that gains $20,000 in value during the marriage, that $20,000 gain is marital property. The court has the authority to equitably divide that $20,000 gain.

Talk With Our Lawyers Today

If you are concerned about protecting the increase in value of your separate property and are considering marriage or have spoken with your spouse and wish to protect your assets after marriage, Shapiro Family Law can help. A Marital Agreement (common referred to as a Post-Nuptial or Ante-Nuptial Agreement) can protect your separate property increases in value.

Call our law firm at 303-309-9580 or contact our Denver office online. We serve clients all over Colorado.