By: Stephen J. Plog
As indicated in various, previous posts over the years, one of the primary issues which can arise in any divorce case is the division of marital property. While reading the news the other morning, I came across a story regarding the case of an English couple battling over their divorce and division of property. The gist of the article tied into an appellate ruling related to division of the marital estate and whether that division would deviate from the norm based on the husband’s contributions. Specifically, the parties were arguing over how to divide their $225 million marital estate, with the husband arguing he should receive a greater share than normal due to his special contribution to the marital estate. The special contribution the husband claimed was the fact that his superior intelligence or “genius” lead to the creation of the vast amount of wealth to be divided. The English appellate court ultimately ruled against him.
While analyzing this and other cases, the author pointed out that under English law, the norm is to divide a marital estate equally. This is also the norm in most Colorado divorce cases, whether that norm is arrived at through settlement or a hearing with the court. Given that many of our notions of legal fairness stem from English law, I was not shocked to learn this. Of course the bigger aspect of the article was the issue of how British courts might treat contribution of one spouse towards the marital estate as a basis for deviating from the norm of equal and awarding the greater contributor a greater piece of the proverbial pie. Given my years of experience and familiarity with Colorado family law, I immediately started pondering the issue of contribution and how often it’s really a factor in a Colorado divorce case. Continue reading