Property division and debt accumulated during a marriage can place more stress on couples going through a divorce or a legal separation. If you want to ensure that you receive a fair share of your marital property or have concerns over maintaining your premarital property, Shapiro Family Law can assist you.
Our law firm understands a couple’s frustration over dividing marital property. We handle all aspects of the divorce and legal separation process.
What Is Considered Marital Property and Debt?
Marital property includes all marital assets and debt each spouse acquired during the marriage. It does not matter whether the property is in joint title or in only one name. Marital property includes:
- The marital house;
- Bank accounts, stocks, mutual funds;
- Motor vehicles;
- Pension benefits;
- Retirement accounts; and
- Any increase in the value of a separate property during the marriage.
What Is Separate Property?
Separate property is property a spouse owned prior to the marriage, so long as it remained separately titled. It also includes a gift, inheritance, or interest in an irrevocable trust a spouse received while married.
When a premarital or separate property increases in value during the marriage, the increase may be marital property-which a court can equitably divide. Separate or premarital property can have aspects of marital property in the following instances:
- You owned a house before your marriage, and it increased in value, or your spouse helped you pay the mortgage on the house;
- You received a monetary inheritance, placed it into an investment account, and it gained in value during the marriage; or
- You had a bank account before your marriage, and you or your spouse made deposits into it during the marriage.
- The above assets were titled jointly with your spouse.
How Is Marital Debt Divided?
Just as couples gain assets during the marriage, they also take on debt, such as home mortgages or credit card balances. Marital debt surprises many couples who believe the spouse responsible for accruing the debt should pay it.
Colorado’s domestic statutes, however, view marital debt differently. Under these statutes, debt incurred during the marriage becomes marital property, regardless of which spouse incurred the debt. In a divorce, the debt must be considered as part of the marital estate.
Our knowledgeable Denver property division attorneys can answer any questions you may have about dividing your marital property and debts while maintaining your separate assets.
How a Court Divides Marital Property
When couples cannot agree on dividing marital property and debt, the court managing the divorce or legal separation has the authority to divide the property. Colorado is an equitable distribution state, which means the court will seek to divide marital property fairly and equitably, but not necessarily in an equal manner.
In dividing marital property, the court considers the following relevant factors:
- The contribution each spouse made to acquire the marital property, including the contribution of a spouse as a homemaker;
- The value of the property in question;
- The economic standing of each spouse at the time the property division becomes effective;
- Any increase or decrease in the value of a spouse’s separate property during the marriage; and
- Any depletion of a spouse’s separate property for marital purposes
After making a distinction between marital property, debt, and separate property, the court places a monetary value on each type of property and makes an equitable division. A court divides marital property and debt if couples cannot divide the property on their own. The court will require mediation to attempt to resolve issues.
Our law firm has extensive experience in property division matters. As a Denver property division attorney, we can help you in this aspect so you will have this process completed prior to going to court. This way, we can give you a greater say in the division and make sure your case moves forward as efficiently as possible.
How Does Property Division Affect Investment Accounts?
During a divorce, the court will also identify and divide taxable accounts, tax-deferred accounts, tax-exempt accounts, and annuities. The judge will divide these on an equitable basis or offset them against other assets.
Tax issues can quickly complicate divorce proceedings if the couple has investment accounts to consider. For this reason, we assist our clients in accurately dividing their assets by calling on experts, such as tax accountants, financial advisers, and actuaries, to provide insight and guidance. Without sound financial advice and vigorous legal representation during the divorce process, you may not obtain your fair share of your investment accounts.
Can We Divide Retirement Assets?
You will also need to divide any retirement assets if the accounts are marital or have a marital component. Our Denver property division lawyers carefully review your retirement assets to make sure you both receive all or a portion of the benefits you deserve.
These retirement assets can include:
- Roth IRAs;
- 401(k) accounts;
- 403(b) deferred tax accounts for public school employees and employees of nonprofits; and
- Defined benefit pension plans and defined contribution plans.
In some cases, we work with a financial expert for a valuation and draft a qualified domestic relations order that directs your financial institution or retirement plan administrator to divide your retirement accounts. Division of these accounts incident to the divorce does not in and of itself create tax consequences.
In other cases, we may choose a different approach. For example, when each spouse has a separate 401(k) account of roughly equal value, we can make provisions during the settlement agreement for one spouse to make up the difference through a non-taxable transfer of funds.
Shapiro Family Law has creative property division solutions that protect your rights, investment accounts, and retirement assets throughout the divorce process.
Shapiro Family Law Can Help Protect Your Property Division Rights.
At Shapiro Family Law, we work hard to ensure that you obtain a fair and equitable settlement of your marital property and debt and maintain your premarital property. Our family law attorneys provide sound guidance to help you avoid the problems that often accompany the property division process.
Shapiro Family Law can help you fight for a fair division of property and debt while safeguarding your separate property. If you have questions about property divisions, call us at 303-695-0200 to speak with our Denver property division lawyer. You can also reach us online.