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How Is My Property in Another Country Handled?

Property rights in a Colorado family law case are determined pursuant to C.R.S. 14-10-113. Under Section 113, courts are charged with equitably dividing “marital property,” which can come in many forms, from houses, to cars, to retirement accounts, and more. From time to time, cases can arise in which property may be situated in another country, such as a condominium in Brazil or a bank account in Switzerland. In these instances, the Colorado courts have no real power or jurisdiction over a foreign entity related to actual division of property located therein. However, this does not mean that the divorce court cannot deal with allocation of that property in one form or another. Colorado family courts certainly have jurisdiction over the parties. As such, orders can still be entered which tie in that foreign property. For example, if a family has a $200,000 condominium in Sao Paulo and $400,000 in other assets located in the United States, the court can certainly award one party a greater share of the assets located here and award the other, generally the one holding title or having greater access, the foreign property. A court in Colorado also has the power to order one party or the other to sell or otherwise liquidate foreign property, under penalty of contempt of court or other sanctions if they don’t follow the court’s orders. Thus, foreign property can still be dealt with in a divorce case, but can have nuances to be sorted through. Some countries may also have mechanisms for enforcing a U.S. court order, which would be a completely separate issue from division of the property in the Colorado divorce. Over the years, we have seen some instances in which a court will simply say it has no power to do anything related to the foreign property and will not even entertain evidence or argument regarding such. This is the exception, but a stance some judges nonetheless might take.Property rights in a Colorado family law case are determined pursuant to C.R.S. 14-10-113. Under Section 113, courts are charged with equitably dividing “marital property,” which can come in many forms, from houses, to cars, to retirement accounts, and more. From time to time, cases can arise in which property may be situated in another country, such as a condominium in Brazil or a bank account in Switzerland. In these instances, the Colorado courts have no real power or jurisdiction over a foreign entity related to actual division of property located therein. However, this does not mean that the divorce court cannot deal with allocation of that property in one form or another. Colorado family courts certainly have jurisdiction over the parties. As such, orders can still be entered which tie in that foreign property. For example, if a family has a $200,000 condominium in Sao Paulo and $400,000 in other assets located in the United States, the court can certainly award one party a greater share of the assets located here and award the other, generally the one holding title or having greater access, the foreign property. A court in Colorado also has the power to order one party or the other to sell or otherwise liquidate foreign property, under penalty of contempt of court or other sanctions if they don’t follow the court’s orders. Thus, foreign property can still be dealt with in a divorce case, but can have nuances to be sorted through. Some countries may also have mechanisms for enforcing a U.S. court order, which would be a completely separate issue from division of the property in the Colorado divorce. Over the years, we have seen some instances in which a court will simply say it has no power to do anything related to the foreign property and will not even entertain evidence or argument regarding such. This is the exception, but a stance some judges nonetheless might take.

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