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The importance of fighting for a fair property division

Boulder County residents who've been through a divorce know that it can be an exhausting experience. Among the most stressful parts of the process is the division of assets. In many cases the property division is negotiated, sometimes during a long and grueling mediation session. It can be tempting to cave in and give the other party what they want just to get the process over with. That may cause a feeling of relief in the short run, but the negative financial consequences can last for years.

In a recent article, a financial columnist gave some advice on how to stick to one's guns in the divorce process. His advice: Plan on a marathon. Wear comfortable clothes to the mediation. Get plenty of sleep and exercise in the days leading up to the mediation, in order to build stamina. Listen to your advisors; if they recommend hanging tough, take the advice seriously. And there's no need to make snap decisions; if you need to take time to decide whether to accept a settlement, go home and sleep on it.

Another suggestion should be added to those in the article: be prepared. In Colorado, a complex property division negotiation requires extensive preparation. A spouse should be familiar with all of the couple's assets, including everything from business assets to bank accounts to artwork. All debts, whether secured by assets or not, should be listed and the information shared with one's attorney.

A spouse must also be familiar with when each asset was acquired; in Colorado property obtained during the marriage is deemed marital property and is subject to equitable distribution. Property a spouse brings to the marriage is considered separate property which remains the individual spouse's property after the divorce.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "How to stay strong and get what you deserve in a divorce," Robert Pagliarini, April 1, 2014

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