When a marriage ends, you have decisions you need to make that will affect your future. The statistics are clear: Divorce has the potential to drastically affect your financial well-being – especially if you are female. In addition, one of the leading causes of divorce involves conflicts over money. This suggests that by the time couples decide to end their marriages, they are already facing serious financial issues. If this story sounds familiar, you are not alone. Fighting for your financial well-being is one of the most important things you can do as you approach a divorce. Fortunately, you can protect your assets with confidence after teaming up with a qualified, experienced divorce attorney.
How are Assets Divided in Colorado?
Colorado follows a system of equitable distribution. This is good news for those who want to protect their assets, as the state will not simply divide all marital assets arbitrarily in a 50/50 manner. Instead, the court will divide marital assets in a way that seems most “equitable.” While a 50/50 split might technically be “fair,” is it not “equitable.”
An equitable system takes into account a wide range of factors to determine the best possible solution for everyone involved. These factors include:
- The length of your marriage
- Both spouses' financial needs
- Both spouses' incomes
- Prior marriages
- The standard of living during the marriage
- The spouses' ages and health
- How each spouse contributed to the marriage
- Each spouse's separate property
If you are new to divorce, that last point might be slightly confusing. What exactly is separate property, anyway? You will quickly learn that there are two main types of property in a Colorado divorce:
- Separate Property: This includes everything you owned – including debts – prior to the marriage. For example, you might have owned a cabin in a rural area prior to signing the marriage contract. It also includes assets you might have acquired after the separation date. Finally, separate property includes gifts and inheritance – even if they were acquired during the marriage.
- Marital Property: With the exceptions noted above, marital property includes everything you acquired – including debts – during the marriage. This might include a family home – even if you were the only one who put money down for the deposit.
Here is the key distinction between separate and marital property: Separate property is ineligible for the equitable distribution process, while marital property is. This means that you get to keep all of your separate property – but you run the risk of losing your marital property.
Gaining a basic understanding of the equitable distribution process helps you approach your divorce in a confident, efficient manner. It also helps to understand the factors that courts consider when approaching equitable distribution, as you should build all of your arguments and efforts around these factors when attempting to protect your assets.
Do I Have to Go to Court to Divide My Assets?
You may have to go to court to divide your marital assets – but only if your spouse refuses to negotiate behind closed doors. The latter is almost always the better approach, as it allows you to take control over the division of property without a judge interfering. After all, a judge may spend only a few minutes looking over your case before hearing it – while you and your spouse benefit from years of details and experience when it comes to your assets.
Your lawyer can help you negotiate during this settlement process for the best possible outcome. During these negotiations, it is possible to trade assets and do many other things that might not be possible during a typical divorce trial. For example, you can agree to give your spouse the family car in exchange for the boat. Or perhaps you want to keep your collection of antique firearms rather than sell it and divide the proceeds with your spouse. Without this negotiation process, you effectively lose control over how many of these assets are handled and divided.
Basic Tips for Protecting Assets During a Divorce
Here are some basic guidelines for protecting your assets during a divorce in Colorado:
- Collect Paperwork: The first step should be to collect as many financial documents as possible. These might include credit reports, income statements, mortgage statements, tax returns, and so on. The more information you collect, the easier it will be to determine what you actually own.
- Become Financially Independent: As soon as the divorce is imminent, you should become as financially independent as possible. This means removing your name from any joint accounts, investments, retirement assets, and so on. Create your own accounts and establish them under your name only.
- Update Your Estate Plan: Another important step is to update your estate plan. You never know what might happen in the weeks, months, and years leading up to your divorce – and the last thing you want is for your ex to inherit everything against your wishes.
What if I Conceal My Assets?
Although concealing assets has never been easier with the advent of cryptocurrencies and offshore accounts, this is usually a very bad idea. If you are caught, you will face serious legal consequences. Not only that, but you will lose all credibility in the eyes of the divorce court – causing all of your arguments and statements from that point forward to face intense scrutiny. You don't have to take such a risk in order to protect your assets, and you can take effective steps with help from your divorce attorney.
Where Can I Find a Qualified, Experienced Divorce Lawyer in Colorado?
If you have been searching for a qualified, experienced divorce attorney in Loveland, look no further than the Law Office of Casey James Alexander, LLC. Over the years, we have helped numerous divorcing spouses in the Colorado area. We understand how important it is to protect your assets as you head into a divorce, and we can help you explore a range of effective strategies during your first consultation. Remember, internet research can only get you so far. The only real way to pursue results is to book a consultation with an experienced divorce lawyer. Reach out today to get started with an effective action plan.