It's a dream come true, owning an Aspen mountain home. Every time you fasten on your skis at the doorstep and downhill over fresh powder to the ski lift, you pinch yourself to make sure it's real.
You live for your Aspen Mountain weekend escapes, but with your impending divorce, the future of your ski house is in question. Who's going to get it after the dust settles? Are you going to lose your winter get-away?
What does Colorado law say about marital property division?
Before you can answer this question, it's important to understand how Colorado courts handle marital property division. Once you understand the law, you'll have more insight on who's going to keep your Aspen mountain ski home.
The state of Colorado is a common law or equitable distribution state. What this means is that family law courts do not automatically presume that the spouses will divide all marital property in a 50-50 split. Rather, family law judges will seek to divide marital property in a way that is "fair" or "equitable." This means that the more affluent - or "moneyed" spouse - will receive a larger share of the marital estate because that spouse contributed more capital to the marital estate.
Is it marital property or separate property?
If you bought your ski home during your marriage, and you used money earned during your marriage to purchase the home, then it will be considered marital property. In this situation, the ski home might be subject to asset division. Also, if the property has your spouse's name listed on the deed, then it will likely be subject to division.
Conversely, if you bought the ski home, and used separate assets (money acquired prior to the marriage in a separate bank account, or inherited money kept in a separate bank account) to purchase it, then there's a chance you'll be able to keep the home for yourself. Also, you'll probably be able to keep the ski home if the property is in your name only, and you purchased the home prior to your marriage.
Since Colorado is an equitable property state, a judge might deem that the higher earning spouse gets to keep a larger share of the marital estate. If you play your cards right, or you can get your spouse to agree, then you might be able to keep the ski home in this kind of circumstance.
Finally, if your house is definitely subject to division, you can negotiate with your spouse, so that you keep the ski home, and he or she gets another part of the marital estate of equal value in exchange. Even if your spouse will not agree to such a deal, you could appeal to the court that you have a special sentimental attachment to the ski home and ask that this to be considered in the final asset distribution decision.
A Colorado asset division attorney can help
Having a sentimental attachment to a high-value piece of real estate property in a divorce is not uncommon in Colorado. Our state has some of the highest priced real estate in the nation. When both spouses have a strong attachment to the same piece of property, things get complicated.
Seeking guidance from an experienced divorce lawyer will help you evaluate whether you can keep your property. Your attorney will do everything possible to make sure you're hitting the ski slopes next season, just like you've always done.