All Our Assets are in My Husband’s Name. Does He Get Everything in Our Divorce?

Generally, the answer is, "no." In a basic sense, how marital property is titled in a divorce is irrelevant. Pursuant to C.R.S. 14-10-113, a court has the statutory authority to divide marital property in a Colorado divorce as it deems equitable. Marital property is all property acquired during the marriage, regardless of titling. There are some exceptions, such as property received by gift or inheritance.

Statute does not make a distinction as to how property is titled. If one goes back a generation or two, many families were comprised of a husband, who had a career and worked outside the home. The wife was often a homemaker, taking care of both house and kids as her full-time job. Though less common, today, there are still many households in which one person is a stay at home parent or spouse and the other works. Logically, the person working outside the home is the one who earns the pay check or has the 401K or other retirement plan accruing. Moreover, depending on the earnings or credit history of the non-working spouse, it may be more difficult for the parties to jointly qualify for a mortgage. As such, there are also instances in which the house is solely titled and financed in one party’s name. In a Colorado divorce setting, to divest the non-working spouse of his or her share of the property solely because of titling and the fact that the other spouse may have been the one whose work efforts accrued that the retirement account would be illogical and unfair. Your Denver divorce attorney will help you to understand your rights and options, as well as the norms applied by metro area courts related to property division.

Most divorce courts look at a marriage from the perspective of each spouse contributing in his or her own way. Courts are generally not going to second guess marital decisions made between spouses in terms of what role each spouse will play. Most courts will perceive that a homemaker has contributed to the family in a meaningful way and is certainly entitled to a normal share of the marital estate, regardless of whose name the assets were accrued in. Perhaps the homemaker’s efforts allowed the wage earner the ability to work more or contribute more towards savings or retirement. In these scenarios, titling does not matter. The same holds true when looking a division of marital debt.

There are certainly facets of titling that can have an impact on asset division in a divorce. For example, if there are premarital assets which never became jointly titled, the spouse with title will certainly be able to keep the premarital value of his or her individually titled asset. However, statute does allow the court to divide any increases in value on that property. Another example might be one spouse putting $40,000 of premarital or non-marital money down on a home, during the marriage, which is only titled in that spouse’s name. Sole titling certainly protects that $40,000, presuming it is non-marital. Titling can also matter in instances in which one spouse takes non-marital funds and commingles them into a jointly titled asset. Finally, the spouses may have entered into a premarital agreement which directly impacts assets division tied into title.

Though divorce cases can have similarities, there are often differences and nuances. It’s important to contact a Denver divorce lawyer who is able to wade through the specifics of your circumstances and strategically advocate for you when it comes time to dividing marital assets, regardless of whose name they are titled in.

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