Under Colorado law, your property/financial issues can be addressed in the following three ways:
Written Separation Agreement (no appearance by parties required; decree will be based upon written affidavit):
The parties have signed a written separation agreement. (The separation agreement must be filed with the court.) That agreement provides for the division of all marital property and marital debts, and addresses spousal support, child support and health insurance. If there are child(ren), the parenting plan is completed and provides for the allocation of parental responsibilities, decision-making and parenting time.
No Marital Property or Debts to be Divided:
There is no marital property to be divided and there are no marital debts.
Party/Parties to Appear in Court:
No Written Agreement, and there are marital property and/or debts to be divided.
a . Procedures and Legal Standards Applicable to Judicial Determinations Regarding Marital Property under Colorado Law
Division of marital property is a two step process. First, the court must first ascertain which property is marital, as opposed to separate. Second, the court divides marital property, in proportions as it deems just, based on the factors set forth in Colorado's equitable distribution statute – Section 14-10-113(1), C.R.S. 2010. The statutory factors include:
1 . The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the marital property, including the contribution of a spouse as homemaker;
2. The value of the property set apart to each spouse;
3. The economic circumstances of each spouse at the time the division of property is to become effective, including the desirability of awarding the family home or the right to live therein for reasonable periods to the spouse with whom any children reside the majority of the time; and
4. Any increases or decreases in the value of the separate property of the spouse during the marriage or the depletion of the separate property for marital purposes.
In general, marital property does not include property that was acquired by one of the spouses prior to the date of the marriage. However, when premarital property is placed in joint tenancy by a spouse during the marriage, there is a presumption that the spouse who had title prior to the marriage intended to make a gift of the property to the marriage. Under such circumstances, the "donated" property is presumed to be marital, for equitable distribution purposes in a divorce action, absent clear and convincing evidence to the contrary.
b . Resolving Marital Property Issues through a Marital/Property Settlement Agreement
Because of the uncertainty, stress and cost associated with divorce proceedings, many couples decide to resolve their marital property issues by entering into property settlement agreements.
Under Colorado law, there is a strong presumption that a marital agreement is enforceable. A "marital agreement" is defined in $sect; 14-2-302(1), C.R.S. (1987 Repl.Vol. 6B) and means an agreement either between prospective spouses made in contemplation of marriage or between present spouses, but only if signed by both parties prior to the filing of an action for dissolution of marriage or for legal separation. It must be in writing and signed by both parties, and is enforceable without consideration. Section 14-2-303, C.R.S. (1987 Repl.Vol. 6B). The content of such agreements can include a number of areas, including, inter alia, the disposition of property. Section 14-2-304(1), C.R.S. (1987 Repl.Vol. 6B).
Absent involuntary execution or unfair and unreasonable disclosure of property or financial obligations, a marital agreement is enforceable. Section 14-2-307, C.R.S. (1987 Repl.Vol. 6B); In re Marriage of Christen, supra (holding that a clear and unambiguous agreement must be enforced as written).
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