Before a divorce can be finalized in Colorado, the separating couple must come to an agreement about the division of property, alimony, and spousal support. These can be some of the most contentious issues in a divorce, especially if the divorce is acrimonious.
As you navigate the divorce process, it’s important that you understand the laws regarding the above, as well as best practices when separating. It’s also important that you understand what can happen if you attempt to skirt the law. Here’s what you should know about selling possessions before a divorce–
Selling Stuff Before a Divorce in Colorado
Consider a situation in which you are thinking about filing for a divorce, but haven’t yet filed your divorce papers. In this case, do you maintain the right to sell some of your possessions prior to the divorce?
The answer is that it depends. If you are selling your possessions in an attempt to reduce your assets for the sake of mitigating child support or alimony payments, or to reduce the value of your estate for equitable distribution purposes, the court will likely see through this, and not only will you be held responsible for such payments regardless, but you could even be penalized. If you are selling your personal possessions to provide you with extra cash to help you pay for the divorce (or for another justifiable reason), on the other hand, doing so is likely within your rights.
Whether or not you can sell possessions before a divorce also depends on whether or not the possessions are marital or separate property; you may be free to do what you want with your own property, but if you sell marital property and this has a negative financial effect on your partner, this may be considered by a court when making a decision about division of property in a divorce.
Another important element to consider is that of when; once divorce papers have been filed and served, an automatic injunction goes into effect. This injunction prohibits either spouse from hiding, destroying, disposing, or transferring any marital property (CRS 14-10-107).
Purposefully Selling Possessions Below Market Value
Another issue to consider is not just that of selling property before the divorce, but that of selling property below market value intentionally. A party in a divorce does not have the right to intentionally sell shared property for less than fair market value in an attempt to reduce the amount the other spouse will get out of it, reduce the amount of property that is considered for equitable distribution purposes, or reduce one’s child support or alimony obligations. If one party does this, the court may assign a professional appraiser to determine what the fair market value of the property was prior to being sold. Then, it may be this number that is considered for equitable distribution purposes, not the amount that the property was sold for.