Asked in Family Law for Colorado

Q: Married in Larimer county in Colorado in 2015, which matrimonial regime applies? What does this regime entail?

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2 Lawyer Answers
T. Augustus Claus
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A: In Colorado, the default matrimonial regime is known as "separate property" or "equitable distribution." Under this regime, any property or assets acquired by either spouse before the marriage or during the marriage through gift or inheritance are considered separate property and generally remain the sole property of the individual spouse.

Chelsea Marie Hillman
Chelsea Marie Hillman
  • Licensed in Colorado

A: So this is somewhat of a complicated answer.

Fundamentally -- we are an equitable distribution state. That means we assess both separate property and marital property. Generally, any property (including income) acquired during the marriage is marital property. Any property earned or acquired prior to the marriage is separate property.

However! Separate property can be partially marital. For example, if you bought a house in 2014 and got married in 2015, you have one year of "separate property" with your house. The remainder is subject to partial marital property. The way we figure this out is the difference in value at the time of marriage vs the value today. This also applies to retirement accounts too or investments.

So while this is somewhat of a complicated answer -- we can absolutely go "line by line" to figure out what is marital, what is separate, and what is some what of a weird blend. Fundamentally though, marital property is ANYTHING you have amassed during the marriage and anything considered separate property is anything you amassed before the marriage occurred, subject to a few nuances like I said above.

Last thing though, anything that was given to you, and not your spouse, through inheritance, gift, bequeath, or devise should generally be considered separate property entirely. Again, there could be nuance if it is real property like I pointed out above, but is generally separate.

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