There are many difficult decisions to make when a marriage ends. For many divorcing couples, figuring out how to fairly divide property is a major obstacle. Understanding how Connecticut law approaches the topic of property division can prepare you for this stage of your divorce.
Equitable Division of Assets
In Connecticut, courts aim for an equitable distribution of assets. Note that equitable is not the same as equal. For example, if one partner has acquired significantly more during the course of the marriage or one partner has a much greater earning potential than the other, the court might adjust the distribution of assets to ensure that both parties can maintain a similar quality of life. Some of the factors that affect the equitable distribution of assets include:
- Cause of the divorce
- Length of the marriage
- Each partner’s age, health, occupation, and employability
- Each party’s source and amount of income
- The size of each partner’s estate
- The liabilities and needs of each party
Marital vs. Separate Property
Generally, Connecticut law separates each individual’s property from the marital property. Separate property refers to the assets that a partner had before they entered the marriage, while marital assets are those acquired during the course of the marriage. This is not set in stone. In order to divide assets equitably, the court might divide separate property between spouses. Separate property could become marital property during the marriage if the other party contributes to it or preserves its value.
Assigning Value to Assets
During the division of property, spouses have a chance to agree on the monetary value of the assets being divided. In the likely event that the parties cannot agree on the value of their assets, the court may require them to get a financial valuation of any contested items. Once items have been evaluated by an expert using fair market value analysis, the property can be fairly divided. Some assets that can be difficult to assess include antiques, family heirlooms, and items from niche hobbies.
The Marital Home
Perhaps the most highly contested asset in most divorces is the marital home. Whether one partner is insistent upon selling it and washing their hands of the situation or both partners want sole rights to the home, this is often a contentious decision. After figuring out the amount of equity in the home, the divorcing couple can decide to sell the home and divide the money from the sale, have one party buy out the other party, or keep one party in the home for a predetermined amount of time—typically until all minor children have graduated high school.
No matter what the circumstances are behind your divorce, we believe in finding peace through strength while navigating this new stage of life. Contact McConnell Family Law at (860) 266-1166 or (203) 344-7007 to discuss your family law needs.