When a couple gets divorced, the marriage has to be terminated by the courts. This includes the task of dividing property between the spouses, specifically known as Connecticut property division.
Though all divorces vary, no one should go to court without retaining a licensed Family Law attorney. Property division laws can be complex, vary from state to state and lawyers have the proper training and experience to tell the judge what a divorcing spouse wants and/or needs from the property division.
Property Division Divorce Laws in Connecticut
The purpose of Connecticut property division laws is to make sure that marital property is allocated to each spouse equitably, but not necessarily in a 50-50 split. Connecticut marital property is divided under the considerations of Connecticut General Statute §46b-81(c) but the trial court judge receives great discretion when converting Connecticut marital property into separate Connecticut divorce property.
Connecticut is an equitable distribution state. This means that with regard to Connecticut divorce assets, anything the spouses had prior to a marriage usually will not be included in Connecticut divorce assets or Connecticut divorce property.
However, any portion of either spouse's estate subject to §46b-81 may be assigned to the other spouse by the court, according to Connecticut case law. This may include a spouse's separate property.
What is considered Marital and Non-Marital Property?
Marital property in its most basic sense is any property acquired during a marriage as well as separate items that were brought into a marriage and converted into marital property.
Non-marital property is the property each spouse had before the marriage, acquired individually without including it into the marital property or got through an inheritance or gift from someone other than his/her spouse.
Dividing Assets and Debt
After the court decides which property is available for distribution, the next step is property valuation. The final step is the allocation of marital property.
Under Connecticut General Statute §46b-81(c), the court considers a number of factors in dividing assets and debt. Some of these are:
- The marriage's length
- The parties' age, health & station
- The parties' sources of income
- The causes for the divorce, including each spouse's conduct
- The parties' contributions in the acquisition, preservation or value appreciation of the estates
Using statutory factors, judges decide how a marriage's assets should be divided. Here is a list of the most common property items and the most common allocation scheme used.
- Cash: Divided equitably among the
- Example 1: A joint savings account has $6,000. The court would most likely award a portion of the money to each spouse.
- Example 2: A joint savings account has $6,000. One spouse contributed $5,000 and the other contributed $1,000. The amount will most likely be divided in an equitable split, possibly 50-50.
- Retirement Plans: Divided based on the
duration of the marriage at the time the benefits accrued, looking at the
present value of the plan and/or survivor benefits.
- Example 1: A spouse got benefits in a retirement plan after working for 45 years and was married for 30 of those years. The ex-spouse would be entitled to a portion of the retirement plan that was acquired during the marriage.
- Example 2: A spouse has an unvested retirement plan. It is subject to property division and must be paid out as ordered by the court if/when the plan is vested.
- Vehicles: Divided based on the values at
the date decided by the court. May be
sold or given to a spouse outright.
- Example 1: A car owned by a spouse is not operational. The car may be sold with the proceeds to be given to a poorer spouse or divided among the spouses in some other way.
- Example 2: A car has a shared title. The car may be sold with the proceeds going to each spouse equally or given to a poorer spouse.
- Insurance: Determined based upon each
spouse's health, availability of alternate insurance and premium payments from
- Example 1: One spouse has covered the other under employer health insurance. The other spouse is in poor health and could not afford alternate health care coverage. The court may order the first spouse to continue covering that spouse for a set time period and/or award a cash payment to the ailing spouse to get new coverage.
- Example 2: One spouse has a life insurance policy where the ex-spouse is to get survivor benefits. The ex-spouse would be entitled to a portion of the payment for the premiums as determined by the court.
Settling Disputes in a Divorce Case with Property and Asset Division
A spouse may go to the trial court and get the judgment on property division re-opened within 4 months of the date of judgment under Connecticut General Statute §52-212a. If a spouse is being uncooperative, Connecticut General Statute §46b-87 allows the court to make the person found in contempt pay the other side a reasonable attorney's fee as well as the service fees.
However, the trial court's determinations will not be changed unless there was an abuse of discretion in the decision making process.
Help From a Connecticut Property Divorce Lawyer
It can not be stressed enough that retaining a Connecticut property divorce lawyer is key to getting the fairest and most equitable result in the property division phase of a divorce. The lawyer can provide professional guidance, keep you informed of likely outcomes and help you present the best arguments and presentation to the trial judge handling the divorce.