A community property state is a state that has laws presuming that property of married couples is to be equally divided upon dissolution of marriage, with few exceptions. Connecticut is not a community property state. To the contrary, Connecticut’s laws specifically allow the court to give any part or all of the estate of a party to the other. It makes no difference whose name the property is in. The court’s job is to determine what is equitable and this does not necessarily mean equal.
How is Property Divided in Divorce?
The court is guided by many factors when making its decision on property division such as:
- Length of Marriage
- Fault in the breakdown of the marriage
- Ages of parties
- Health of the parties
- Occupation of the parties
- Earnings of the parties
- Estate of the parties
- Liabilities and needs of the parties
- Opportunity for future acquisition of property/money by parties
- Contribution of each party to the acquisition, preservation or appreciation of property
- Any dissipation of assets by either party
The court must consider all the relevant factors but may assign whatever weight/importance it wants to each factor. It is often the case that the court and the divorcing parties have different views as to how important each of the factors are and whether enough evidence has been presented to prove a factor. The court does not have to outline the weight given or even provide its reasoning with regard to the consideration of the factors and the evidence provided at trial. The judge has broad discretion when making its determination.
As a practical matter, given the risks at trial, many divorcing parties opt to divide their property equally or near equally even if they have arguments to the contrary. Additional, common reasons to consider some property as “separate” and belonging to one party are that money or property was acquired and brought into the marriage by one party and that money or property was inherited by one party. There is no law requiring such property to be considered separate but it is often negotiated as such. For instance, whether the funds at issue have been kept separate or co-mingled with the marital property will have a bearing on how these arguments are perceived by opposing counsel and the court. A good divorce lawyer can present the best case for why property should not be split equally, and what should be considered separate. If you are considering divorce and need advice on protecting your assets, please contact us for a free telephone consultation.