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Connecticut Property Division
Property Distribution Laws in Connecticut
In Connecticut, the courts generally accept a fair and reasonable property division the parties agree to, but if the parties cannot agree, the property the Superior Court divides the marital estate within the Judgment of Divorce.
Connecticut is an equitable distribution state, and an "all property" state, which means that the courts have jurisdiction over all the property that both spouses have, marital and separate. Equitable does not mean equal, or even half, but rather what the Superior Court considers fair.
Factors in Equitable Distribution
When the spouses cannot reach an agreement about property division, the Superior Court, after considering a variety of factors, does it for them, and divides their assets and liabilities for them, and does so equitably. According to the Connecticut General Statutes - Title 46b - Chapter 81, the courts consider:
The court also considers what the spouses made "in the acquisition, preservation or appreciation in value of their respective estates."
Equitable distribution means fair. So the contributions and value of the homemaker's services are also considered. In short marriages, the court attempts to restore the parties to where they were before the marriage. In longer marriages, (particularly cases where the contributions of a stay-at-home mother are more likely to be a factor) the court aims for a 50-50 division. Ultimately, the division of property may vary widely from case to case depending on the court's analysis.
In Connecticut the conduct or fault of the parties is one of many factors considered by a judge before dividing assets and awarding alimony.
Marital Property vs. Separate Property
Connecticut is what is termed "a pure equitable distribution state," which means all property is subject to distribution in a divorce. This means that the judge can distribute any assets of either party in the manner he or she finds "equitable."
Property acquired from the date of the marriage through the date of separation is marital property and subject to distribution. Property each spouse owned before the marriage or acquired during the marriage by gift or inheritance is separate. Gifts and inheritances used to benefit both spouses as a married couple become marital property. Separate property that is commingled with marital property becomes marital. Untainted separate property obtained before or during the marriage remains immune to distribution. The separate property includes, but is not limited to, gifts and inheritances.
In order to establish an asset as separate property, it must remain under the control of the spouse claiming it. Property combined with joint property for the benefit of both spouses becomes marital. In Connecticut, the appreciation in the value of separate property is marital property.
Property includes real property, personal property, expectancies or future property entitlements and marital debts.
Valuing and Awarding Property
The court first classifies property and debt as marital, and then it assigns value on both. Next it distributes the marital assets and debts between the two parties in an equitable fashion. Courts use the same marital equitable property statutes and case laws when dividing assets between civil partners.
Courts may order spouses to obtain a financial valuation for any marital property and debts in order to assess current and future values. The parties may select their own expert and if they cannot agree upon the expert, judges may choose for them. The expert must use a fair market value analysis when valuing property using the date of acquisition and date of dissolution as the fixed date for valuation.
Connecticut judges can also order a sale of real property. When determining the proper allocation, judges determine whether property is subject to equitable distribution or is separate property belonging to only one spouse; whether fair market valuation is proper to determine the property's value; and finally, how to divide the property equitably between the spouses.
Property is classified as of the date of separation.
The Marital Home
In Connecticut, as in many jurisdictions, the equity of the marital home is often one of the biggest marital assets. The equity is the market value of the house, less any liabilities against the property, such as a mortgage, taxes, home equity loans. Normally, making this calculation requires a paid real estate appraisal or a real estate agent can prepare a market analysis for free.
From there, couples choose one of three options to divide the equity:
Pensions and Retirement Accounts
In Connecticut, vested pensions are marital property. Vesting means that the worker spouse has met all the requirements for receipt of the pension. Unvested pensions are not marital property. Until the pension has vested, the worker spouse has only an expectancy of interest in the pension.
Courts consider a pension as an asset subject to distribution, so a spouse may get a share of the pension, or other assets to offset the value of his or her spouse's pension.
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