Dividing Marital Assets in Divorce
Connecticut is an equitable division state. What that means is the court will look at many factors when dividing assets between spouses. Equitable does not mean equal, and it doesn’t always mean the division will be fair and equitable if you leave the outcome to a judge. One way to ensure the division of your assets accrued during the marriage is equitable, is to work out an agreement with your spouse. Divorce Mediation is a process where you and your spouse can work together and decide on a fair division of your assets. This process is preferred over letting a court decide, and hoping for the best.
Couples contemplating divorce have many concerns such as the well-being of their children. Once the couple works through the issues of custody and parenting, they need to start thinking about the division of their assets of the marriage. Here are some things to consider when dividing assets in a divorce in Connecticut:
- Marital Property vs. Separate Property: Understand what assets are considered marital property (acquired during the marriage) and what are separate property (owned before marriage or received as gifts/inheritance). Marital property is typically subject to division although separate property can also be subject to division in certain situations.
- Equitable Distribution: Connecticut follows the principle of equitable distribution, which aims to divide assets fairly, though not necessarily equally. Consider factors like the length of the marriage, each spouse’s contributions, and financial needs.
- Valuation of Assets: Determine the value of assets like the family home, investments, retirement accounts, and any valuable possessions. Accurate valuations are crucial for a fair division. Use a certified real estate appraiser to find the fair market value of the family home.
- Debts: Don’t forget about debts, such as mortgages, credit card debt, and loans. Decide how to distribute these liabilities.
- Future Financial Needs: Consider your post-divorce financial needs, including housing, daily expenses, and potential education costs. Ensure that your settlement supports your financial stability.
- Children’s Interests: If you have children, their well-being is a priority. Consider their housing needs, education, and overall comfort.
- Tax Implications: Be aware of the tax consequences of asset division. Certain assets might have tax implications when transferred or sold.
- Retirement Accounts: Splitting retirement accounts requires specific legal documents like a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). Understand how this process works.
- Non-Financial Contributions: Consider non-financial contributions made by each spouse during the marriage, such as the parent who remained at home to raise children or sacrificed a career to support the other spouse’s career.
- Liquid vs. Non-Liquid Assets: Differentiate between liquid assets (easily converted to cash) and non-liquid assets (take time to sell, like real estate). Decide how to handle each type.
- Negotiation vs. Litigation: Decide whether to negotiate asset division through mediation, collaboration, or go through litigation. Divorce mediation where you negotiate directly with your spouse and not through lawyers or court can often result in a more amicable outcome.
- Long-Term Impact: Think about how the asset division will impact your financial situation in the long run. Make decisions that set you up for a stable future.
- Professional Advice: Consult financial advisors, accountants, and family and divorce lawyers to get expert guidance tailored to your situation.
- Documentation: Keep records of all financial information and communication related to asset division. This can be helpful in case of disputes.
Remember that every divorce is unique, so the best approach may vary based on your individual circumstances. It’s important to consult professionals who specialize in divorce and financial matters to ensure you make informed decisions.
Written by: Attorney Mediator Susan Wakefield
If you have any questions about dividing marital assets in your divorce, contact Maya Murphy, P.C. at (203) 221-3100 and ask to speak with one of our experienced family lawyers or divorce mediators about your divorce or family law matter. We offer free consultations to discuss divorce and all other areas of practice offered by our firm.