A common question in divorce is whether the reason your marriage is ending is taken into account in how your assets are divided. Not surprisingly, many people feel that if their spouse was abusive, cheated or otherwise behaved badly, he or she should have to pay for it by losing some of their assets. However, whether you can get more money if your spouse is at fault in your divorce involves a complicated analysis by the court.
Does Someone Have to Be at Fault to Obtain a Divorce in Connecticut?
Connecticut is a no-fault state meaning that you don’t need a reason to get divorced. Many states including New York until recently, used to require proving that one spouse had an affair, was physically abusive, or abandoned the family and disappeared to get divorced. However, in Connecticut, you can file for divorce regardless of why you don’t want to be married anymore.
Will the Court Take into Account Fault When Dividing Assets?
Under state law, the court must at least consider “the causes for the annulment, dissolution of the marriage, or legal separation” in dividing the couple’s assets. However, judges have wide discretion in weighing this factor. Even in the worst cases of a spouse who acts badly, the split is more likely to be 60/40 or 55/45 in favor of the injured spouse. The reason for this is that judges hear couples make accusations against each other all the time. One side says that the other had an affair while that spouse says “Well, we haven’t been intimate in the last 10 years” or some other justification. As a result, judges hesitate to put all the blame on one spouse and change the asset division significantly. For example, we represented someone who had multiple affairs for years and even introduced some of those individuals to his spouse as a friend and integrated their families. Despite that, he still received 40% of the assets.
While you may want to see your spouse punished financially if you were wronged, there are other considerations to keep in mind. Winning 55% or 60% of the assets may cost you extra money in legal fees. Settling for 50% now may be a higher amount than getting 55% or 60% later after the added legal expenses to litigate. The unfortunate reality is that even though a court will look at who is to blame in the breakdown of the marriage, it probably won’t make that much difference in how much money you get. Further, fighting for a greater share will prolong your case and may also make it harder for you to get over your divorce and move forward in your life.
If you are considering divorce, our experienced divorce attorneys can advocate for your best interests in court and negotiations to help you achieve a positive result. Contact us today.