One of the biggest questions a person considering divorce will seek an answer to is how the courts divide assets in Colorado. Every state has its own approach to asset division, based on both state law and legal precedent by previous divorces in the state. Not knowing the potential financial impact of your divorce can be nerve-wracking, especially if you expect and enjoy a certain standard of living.

Unless you have a prenuptial agreement on record, it’s impossible to predict exactly how the courts will handle asset division. Every case is unique, which means that every asset division outcome is also unique. However, if you take the time to understand state laws in Colorado, you can probably estimate the broad overall outcome of the asset division process in your divorce.

Colorado is an equitable division state

Colorado is not a community property state. Instead its laws regarding the division of assets in divorce call for fair and equitable division of marital assets. Certain assets, including separate property owned before the marriage, gifts, inheritances and items protected by a prenuptial agreement will not end up divided by the courts. In general, most assets and debts accumulated or acquired during the marriage could get divided. The courts will not look at any wrongdoing, such as an affair, as marital misconduct and should not impact the process.

The courts will look at a number of factors when determining how to divide assets, including the income of each party, the potential for income of each spouse, contributions to the marriage, custody of the minor children and expenses related to that, and overall assets separately owned by each spouse. Even non-working spouses make considerable contributions to a household by providing unpaid work, ranging from child care, cooking and cleaning to management of the home and familial obligations.

Equitable division does not always mean equal

Depending on many considerations, the courts may choose to award more assets to one spouse than to the other. Typically, this kind of decision will result from one spouse’s inability to earn a livable wage due to years spent out of the job market. Other times, custody of the children, particularly special needs children, could impact the asset division process in favor of the custodial parent. The goal in these scenarios is to ensure the children receive adequate care and remain in the lifestyle they have grown accustomed to.

The best way to work toward a fair outcome to the asset division process is to ensure that you advocate for a fair asset division process and ensure all assets and debts get accurately reported to the courts. After all, the courts can’t divide possessions or valuables that they don’t know about.