Property division is one of the most important issues in a divorce. It’s also the source of some of the biggest divorce myths. Connecticut is an all property state, which means that almost everything is up for grabs during Connecticut divorces. Plus, contrary to popular belief, Connecticut is an equitable distribution state, not a community property state. “Equitable” doesn’t necessarily mean equal, or 50/50. Instead, the judge — or you and your spouse if you reach an agreement — looks at the property division factors to determine a fair and equitable division of property. This means tremendous flexibility exists for experienced family attorneys to craft and advocate for an individualized approach. That’s why the Connecticut property division lawyers can make such a big difference.
Types of Property Division
To be divided, an asset must meet Connecticut’s very broad definition of property. This complex issue, especially in high net worth and international divorces, is one of the reasons advocacy from one of Freed Marcroft’s experienced property division attorneys is so valuable.
The types of property divided in Connecticut include:
- Family home and other real estate
- Inheritances & gifts
- Employer Retirement Accounts including 401(k)s, Stock Options, and Deferred Compensation
Basics of Property Division
There are three stages of analysis when it comes to property distribution in Connecticut:
- Definition – whether an item meets the definition of property
- Valuation – what is the value of the property
- Distribution – how the property will be distributed between the spouses
When it comes to what meets the definition of property that can be divided, Connecticut courts can divide property acquired before and during the marriage or property in the name of one spouse only. Property that falls into the category of an “expectancy” isn’t on the table during a divorce, though. Next, some property, like a bank account, is easier to value than other assets, like a pension or stock option. Finally, the court distributes property fairly instead of equally. The court considers factors instead of a specific legal formula and doesn’t have to weigh those factors equally. In other words, courts have very broad discretion when dividing property.
As you can tell, equitable distribution isn’t simple in Connecticut — which means there is a lot of opportunity for creative negotiations, strategy, and solutions. It’s important to have an experienced divorce attorney as your guide. With the Freed Marcroft legal team by your side, you’ll have an advocate for the life you want to live.
Property Division Factors
Spouses always have the opportunity to reach agreements on property division and all the issues in their divorce. These resolutions are reached via negotiation in litigated divorces or in litigation alternatives like mediation and collaborative divorce. In many cases, the spouses are able to resolve all issues in the divorce, resulting in a full settlement agreement. Then, lawyers present this comprehensive settlement agreement to the judge at an uncontested divorce hearing.
The property division factors include:
- Length of the marriage
- Adultery & other reasons for the divorce
- Income & assets
- Age, health, station, education, occupation, and needs
How Are Retirement Accounts Divided?
Retirement accounts are only in one spouse’s name and are often begun before marriage. Still, they can be divided during a divorce. Employer retirement assets include 401Ks, stock options, and deferred compensation. Valuation and division of retirement accounts is notably complex. For example, when is a stock option divisible and when is it just an expectancy? How do you value a pension? As always, you and your spouse are able to reach an agreement on property distribution outside of court through mediation or collaborative divorce. It’s even possible to come to an agreement regarding retirement accounts while preparing to litigate a divorce.