Last month, on our Boulder County divorce law blog, we spent some time on a story about unexpected complications following a common-law marriage. One former partner did not anticipate having to deal with property division issues because she and her former live-in boyfriend were never formally married. The story may have raised some more general questions for our readers about common-law marriage. Likely, the two most common questions were, "What exactly is common-law marriage, and how does it work?"
Many couples in Boulder County are taking longer to tie the knot than previous generations. Some spend time living together, perhaps commingling their finances or even raising children together before marrying. However, even without a traditional marriage, these partners may have to deal with property division and other divorce legal issues after they break up.
Divorce can be a draining process for the unprepared. From the events leading to the divorce to the years following, the effects of divorce could ripple into every aspect of a person's life. Unfortunately, even confident couples that are intent on handling the process peacefully can turn hostile over one common area: the division of marital property. The division of marital property can be a chaotic sea to navigate through, and the most difficult part of the journey is how to handle the family home.
When a Longmont resident takes a tally of the many items of property they own, the list may look something like this: a family home; one or more automobiles, furniture, artwork and other decorative household items, clothing and jewelry, musical instruments, books and hobby supplies and miscellaneous items that do not fit into other categories. Some of those items may have been acquired by them prior to marrying, while others may have only been purchased after the individual wed themselves to their spouse.
Property settlement agreements and negotiations can be difficult to work out as Colorado couples end their marriages through divorce. They may disagree about how to divide or dispose of major assets and pieces of property.
When a Colorado couple works through a divorce, they must manage many difficult legal matters. The parties must determine if and how they will seek spousal support. If they have kids, the ex-spouses must establish a child custody schedules that will meet their kids' best interests and support payments that will be sufficient to pay for their children's needs. They must also decide how they will separate their marital property and handle the debts they took on as a couple.
Coloradoans have spent their entire life working for their future. Every paycheck, every investment and every sacrifice that they made has been toward the dream of someday retiring and living their life without the daily commitment of a job. It is a common story and for those who have made it happen, it can be a dream come true to experience.
Last week, this Longmont family law blog discussed the importance of understanding the value of one's marital and separate property prior to filing for divorce. The failure of a party to understand the scope of their assets may limit them from leaving their marriage with adequate financial power to thrive on their own. However, as many readers may know, not all property is valued with a price tag. There are some items of personal property that may not monetarily be worth much, but mean much to the hearts and sentiments of their owners.
Colorado property division law recognizes equitable distribution as the means a court must follow when determining how a couple may split their marital debts and assets. After the individuals to the ending marriage have agreed which items should be treated as separate or individual property, they may begin the sometimes difficult process of negotiating for the items they jointly owned. In Boulder County and the rest of the state, equitable distribution dictates that the division must be fair rather than equal.
Depending upon how a state categorizes the property of the married people within its borders it will either be called a community property state or an equitable distribution state. Community property states assume that property owned by both of the parties to a marriage is equally shared and therefore should be split equally when the couple ends its marriage. Equitable distribution states do not necessarily divide marital property down the middle and will instead evaluate what the fair or equitable division of wealth and debts should be between the parties.