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Who gets the house in a Colorado divorce?

When couples divorce in Colorado, one of the big questions is who will get the marital home. The answer is not always an easy one, and will depend on each individual couple's circumstances.

Colorado is an equitable distribution state, which means the court in a divorce case will divide the couple's marital property on an equitable basis. Marital property is generally that property which was acquired by either spouse during the marriage, except that acquired by gift or inheritance. It is distinguished from separate property, which is property acquired by one spouse before the marriage. Any appreciation in the value of separate property is generally considered marital property, however.

If the couple bought their home after they were married, it will be marital property and subject to equitable division. If one spouse owned the home before the marriage, it is most likely separate property, but any appreciation in value that occurred during the marriage will be marital property.

But classifying the home as marital or separate property is only one part of the analysis. If the home is marital property and there are children, the court will likely take that into account and award the home to the spouse who will be doing most of the child-raising.

Debt is also subject to division in a divorce, and if there is a mortgage on the home the court will have to decide whether one or both spouses will be responsible for paying it. In many cases the best solution is to sell the house, pay off the mortgage and divide any equity between the spouses.

Source: Findlaw.com, "Divorce Property Division FAQ," accessed Nov. 24, 2014

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