Divorce can be a highly emotional process, in part because it can also affect each spouse’s legal and property rights for years to come. How a couple’s assets are divided can affect where the former spouses live, their financial stability, and the new household budget for each of them. Divorce appeals are useful for fighting to overturn an unfair outcome related to formerly shared property or assets. A knowledgeable divorce lawyer from Colorado Divorce Law Group may be able to explain the impact of divorce appeals on property and asset division in your case. Consider calling (720) 593-6442 to schedule a consultation.
Colorado is an equitable distribution state. This means that, when spouses divorce, the court divides the property in a way that is fair but not necessarily equal. Alternatively, the spouses can enter a written agreement regarding asset division and other matters related to their divorce and ask the court to apply the terms of this agreement to their divorce decree. If there is an appeal, it will probably be based on a decision the court made regarding property division rather than an agreement the spouses voluntarily signed.
When the court divides property, it first distinguishes separate property from marital property. Only marital property is subject to division during a divorce. The court considers several factors, according to the American Bar Association, to determine how to divide the property fairly, including the following:
According to Colorado Revised Statutes 14-10-113 (disposition of property), the court should assign each spouse his or her separate property and divide marital property without consideration to any marital misconduct. Under the factors listed above, the only way that marital misconduct would be considered is if the spouse’s conduct resulted in a decrease or depletion of the value of separate property. For example, the court could consider if a spouse intentionally damaged or wasted separate property.
Separate property is not subject to division during divorce and generally includes the following:
Marital property is generally any property that either spouse acquires during the marriage that is not separate property. This categorization may apply regardless of the title held to the property, including whether it is titled in any of the following ways:
Marital property also includes the increase in value of separate property. For example, if a spouse owned real estate worth $150,000 before the marriage and it is valued at $200,000 at the time the assets are divided, the extra $50,000 in value would be considered marital property and be subject to division. This applies even when the other spouse did not improve the property, pay for it, or do anything to directly lead to the increase in the property’s value. If a spouse wants the court to consider any property acquired after the marriage as separate property, that spouse has the burden of showing that it is separate property according to the criteria listed above.
One of the difficulties in divorce appeals is overcoming the assumption that the trial court made the right decision. In Colorado, divorce courts are advised to make asset division decisions as they deem just after they consider the relevant factors. The trial court is usually assumed to be in the best position to make decisions about property and assets because the judge directly receives evidence and can evaluate the credibility of witnesses.
If either spouse is dissatisfied with the court’s decision, they may be able to appeal. However, it is important for spouses to understand that they cannot appeal simply because they did not get the outcome they wanted. Instead, Colorado law requires that a party be able to show that the trial court made an error that affected the decision. Additionally, this error must have been raised at the trial level, such as objecting during the divorce trial. The error must also be of a nature that adversely affected the rights of one of the parties, or it can be considered a harmless error under the law. Examples of errors that could give rise to a divorce appeal in Colorado include:
The state of Colorado provides a limited amount of time to file an appeal after a ruling at the trial level. Additionally, the plaintiff who files the appeal is responsible for preparing the record. The experienced attorneys at the Colorado Divorce Law Group handle divorce appeals and may be able to discuss your particular situation and options. Appellate attorneys serve a much different role than trial attorneys, reviewing any mistakes made at the trial level and preparing legal arguments for the appeal.
Divorce can be a complex and emotional process. If you have questions about asset division or divorce appeals, you can speak to an experienced divorce lawyer. A knowledgeable lawyer at the Colorado Divorce Law Group may be able to review your situation, explain how Colorado divorce law applies, and advise you of your legal rights and options. Consider calling (720) 593-6442 to schedule your confidential case review today.