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How will divorce affect my business in Colorado?

For many people going through a divorce, one of the most difficult steps in the divorce process is dividing up shared property such as the family home, vehicles, savings accounts and other valuables. When one or both spouses are business owners, the property division process can become even more complicated and potentially volatile. Business owners in Colorado should be aware of how their business assets may be treated in the event of divorce and take steps to protect them in case such a situation should arise.

Division of property in Colorado

When a married couple goes through a divorce in Colorado, all of their assets are characterized as either marital or non-marital property. Generally speaking, marital property includes any assets earned or acquired by either spouse throughout the duration of the marriage. In contrast, non-marital property is property owned prior to marriage, property received during marriage by gift or inheritance, or property excluded by valid agreement, such as a pre-nuptial agreement. Certain exceptions apply, however – for instance, a gift or inheritance to one spouse individually may be considered non-marital property even if it was received during the marriage.

The laws that govern the division of property during divorce vary from state to state. In Colorado, courts do not have jurisdiction to award non-marital property but can consider this an economic factor which the courts can consider in dividing other property or in awarding spousal support. Under Colorado law, marital property can be divided equally or unequally, depending on what a judge deems to be “equitable,” or fair. Factors that the court will consider when deciding how to divide marital property may include:

  • The monetary and non-monetary contributions that each spouse made to the household during the marriage, including contributions as a homemaker
  • The value of the marital property
  • Each spouse’s individual financial situation and earning capacity after divorce
  • Each spouse’s share of responsibility for child care and custody after divorce

Division of business assets

While some people may not think of a small business or solo practice as property, the truth is that businesses are treated just like other assets during the divorce process in Colorado, and owning a business may drastically affect the outcome of the property settlement

As with other types of property, a primary issue for divorcing business owners is valuing the business. In Colorado, business valuation for divorce purposes includes both the value of the business at the time of divorce as well as the value of the future income for spousal support purposes.

The valuation process can be extremely complicated as Colorado has not adopted one clear method for business valuation in a divorce. As such, values can vary widely depending upon who is doing the valuation.

To help ensure that their business assets are protected in the event of divorce, Colorado business owners should speak with a lawyer who has experience representing business owners in divorce and property division cases. A knowledgeable attorney can help business owners understand their legal options and take steps to help protect their business assets if a divorce occurs.

Lynn Landis-Brown, P.C., represents clients in the Pikes Peak area, Front Range area, and Rocky Mountain area of Colorado, including Colorado Springs, Castle Rock, Monument, Woodmoor, Broadmoor, Manitou Springs, Fort Carson, Fountain, Cimarron Hills, Black Forest, Canon City, Woodland Park, Cripple Creek, Victor, Parker, Pueblo, Peterson Air Force Base, Schriever Air Force Base, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station; United States Northern Command (NORTHCOM), Northern American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), United States Air Force Academy (USAFA), El Paso County, Teller County, Douglas County, Adams County, Elbert County and Fremont County.