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In re Marriage of Blaine.

2021 CO13. No. 19SC967.  Uniform Dissolution of Marriage Act—Presumption of Marital Property—Statutory Exceptions to Presumption of Marital Property—Valid Agreement—Interspousal Transfer Deed.

February 16, 2021

The issue in this dissolution of marriage case is whether a spouse’s conveyance of his or her interest in a home through an interspousal transfer deed (ITD) automatically overcomes the presumption of marital property in the Uniform Dissolution of Marriage Act (UDMA), provided there is proof that the conveying spouse intended to exclude the property from the marital estate. The Supreme Court concluded that it does not.

Under the UDMA, “marital property” is subject to equitable division in a dissolution proceeding. The UDMA creates a presumption of marital property with respect to all property acquired by either spouse during the marriage. But this presumption is overcome by a showing that the property was acquired by a method listed in one of four statutory exceptions. The Court of Appeals correctly acknowledged that the ITD executed in this case did not fall within the statutory exception that allows couples to exclude property from the marital estate through a valid agreement. Yet, without the benefit of findings in the record as to whether any of the other exceptions applied, and without itself exploring those exceptions, the Court of Appeals concluded that the ITD was an effective means of conveying, as separate property, a spouse’s interest in a home acquired during the marriage, given that there was evidence of the conveying spouse’s intent to exclude the property from the marital estate.

The Court held that a party may overcome the marital property presumption in the UDMA only through the four statutory exceptions. Because the Court of Appeals improperly created a new exception to the presumption, its judgment was reversed and the case was remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

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