Property division is one of the biggest reasons many Colorado couples may avoid divorce. The thought of dividing property and finances can seem overwhelming and incredibly complicated.
However, once you’ve made the decision to divorce and decide there is no turning back, there are several things that can help you through your property division process.
Your divorce settlement agreement
Property division is typically accomplished through something called a divorce settlement agreement. This is a written document that details specific terms of how your marital property will be divided.
A final divorce settlement agreement is the result of weeks, or sometimes months, of negotiation. Once all terms are agreed upon, both you and your spouse sign the agreement and it becomes a legally binding document.
Working with an attorney while negotiating the agreement terms and having the document reviewed by an attorney before signing is a very good idea.
Do not rush through the process
Although you most likely want the entire divorce process to be over with as quickly as possible, taking the property division process slowly is essential. Think carefully about each decision and weigh both the short and long-term consequences.
Making a hasty decision just to move on to the next step of the process can cause you significant financial stress in the future. Do not let your spouse coerce you into a decision you are not ready to make.
Properly value your marital assets
One of the biggest parts of the property division process is assessing the value of each marital asset. You do not necessarily have to do this for every piece of personal property in your home, but a valuation should be done for major assets, such as houses or cars.
You and your spouse can always choose to have one valuation done and agree that you will both go with that value; however, one of you may change your mind if the value is not what they expected. This is especially true if the other spouse chose the appraiser.
It might be best for each of you to choose your own appraiser and have separate valuations done. A third party could then review both valuations and help you decide on a fair value.
Finding hidden assets
Make sure you know about all marital assets, including potentially hidden ones. You may choose to use the discovery process to learn what marital assets are out there.
Discovery is a set of written documents sent to your spouse or their attorney with a list of questions that they must answer under oath. You might be served with discovery yourself. Answer all questions honestly, as you could face penalties from the judge if you are found to have lied under oath.
Dividing marital debts
You will also have to figure out how to divide any marital debts. Pull a copy of your credit report so you have an accurate accounting of your current credit status.
As with assets, debts should be divided fairly. Do not agree to take on debt you cannot afford, or that you believe you should not have to, because you want the divorce to be done.
Consider alternatives to litigation
Finally, consider using a third-party, such as a mediator, to help you negotiate your divorce settlement agreement. You can use one of these even if you and your spouse both have divorce attorneys.
Divorces are often settled more amicably through methods such as mediation, versus traditional courtroom litigation. Be open to this option and increase your chance of leaving your marriage on good terms.