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Second divorces cause greater financial distress

In all divorces, property division can be a difficult and contentious issue. Both spouses may be left feeling poorer than before. But the effects of a second divorce can be far more damaging financially, experts say.

The reasons are several. There are often child support and spousal maintenance obligations remaining from the first divorce, which will be added to any such obligations from the second. In addition, the current recession has wiped out much of the value of homes and investment portfolios, resulting in fewer assets to divide. And because couples who divorce for a second time tend to be older, splitting up retirement accounts can have far more severe consequences.

Whether it is a first or second divorce, Colorado courts will seek to make an equitable division of marital property. In reaching an equitable division, the court will be guided by several factors listed in Colorado statutes: the contributions of each spouse to the marital property; the value of separate property owned by each spouse; and each spouse's economic situation.

With certain exceptions, marital property -- defined as property obtained during the marriage by either spouse, including property acquired by gift or through a will -- is divided equitably between the spouses. Separate property -- property that a spouse owned before the marriage -- is kept by the spouse who brought it to the marriage. But when separate property appreciates in value, the appreciation is considered marital property.

Couples contemplating a second marriage should give serious thought to a prenuptial agreement. A spouse without a prenup who is facing the prospect of a second divorce should start getting his or her financial paperwork in order. If the financial prospects look bleak, the spouse should work with their attorney to try to reach a fair settlement.

Source: MSNBC, "Divorce is hard, but second one can wipe you out," Geoff Williams, July 13, 2012

• Our firm handles situations similar to the one discussed in this post. If you would like to learn more about our practice, please visit our Property/Debt Division page.

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