Divorce: Can I Buy a House While I’m Getting Divorced?

Divorce in Colorado

So you’re getting divorced and you need to buy a new property before the case will be settled. Whether you’re in a bind and need a place to live soon, or you’ve been on the market for a while and the perfect property just popped up, there are some things you need to know about buying property during a divorce before you take any drastic action.

Under Colorado law, you cannot do anything extraordinary with financial matters until one of two things happens:

  1. You get a Court order; or
  2. You get written permission from the other side.

It’s pretty reasonable to assume that virtually everybody would believe that purchasing a house could be considered an “extraordinary” expenditure, so you would need permission from the other party or a Court order before moving forward.

Do not make a large purchase before your divorce is finalized without either getting Court order or getting written permission from the other side. In fact, you may want to get the Court order even if you have permission from the other side to make sure you have all your bases covered: the fear is that if you make the purchase while you’re still married, the new house will be considered marital property and your spouse will be entitled to half.

All that said, I understand that this kind of situation can get very complicated.

Getting Permission for an Extraordinary Transaction

Years ago, I worked on a case where the husband was a farmer. The couple had been married for 30 years, and the farm had been in the husband’s family for several generations — he had been taught farming by his father, who had learned from his father, and so on. Their family had a practice of replacing a major piece of farm equipment every 5 years. They had determined that it was the economically sound way to do business, so, for the past three decades of the marriage, the husband had made a major machinery purchase every 5 years.

It just so happened that they filed for divorce right before he was due to purchase a new piece of machinery. We discussed it, and came to the conclusion that because he had purchased new equipment so regularly throughout the marriage, it wasn’t extraordinary. It was normal for him. So he purchased the machinery without his wife’s permission and without a Court order. I explained to him that there was a risk in doing so, but, for reasons that are privileged, he decided this was the best way to proceed.

Even though these kind of expenditures had been such a regular part of their life together, the other side took us to Court over the purchase. In the end, the judge agreed with me that this was not an extraordinary purchase: it was an ordinary business transaction, and my guy was in the clear.

Of course, this is an exception to the rule. Something like a house or a car would almost certainly be considered an extraordinary transaction and it would be safest to get permission or a Court order before buying. When you do request permission and/or a Court Order, you’ll need to lay out all the details and explain where the money is coming from, demonstrating that it’s not marital property, etc.

Practical Guidance through Divorce

If you are in the midst of a divorce, or preparing for a divorce, it is strongly recommended that you hire a legal professional. Things that may seem simple now (like conducting a regular, if large, transaction) will suddenly become much more complicated.

Call our office today at 303-449-1873 for a complimentary consultation and we’ll discuss how the process will work for you.

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