One of the most common inquiries that we receive from potential clients in Greenwich, Westport and other towns throughout Fairfield County, is whether or not, upon divorce, their spouse will be entitled to share in certain assets that he or she may perceive to be their “separate property.” A common example would be where the individual has brought substantial assets with them into the marriage and hopes to solely retain these assets upon their divorce. Additional examples might be where the inquiring potential client has received an inheritance or a gift during the marriage and wants to know if his or her spouse will have any right to share in a portion of such assets upon divorce. Depending upon which side of the coin the potential client falls on, the answer to his or her inquiry may be heartening or discouraging.
Unlike many other equitable distribution states, Connecticut does not recognize any assets as the “separate property” of either spouse, meaning assets that would be exempt from equitable distribution in a divorce. Rather, Connecticut is an “All Property” state, which means that any asset owned by either party to a divorce is subject to division in a divorce, regardless of how or when the asset was acquired.
That said, it is important to understand that under our “equitable distribution” law, assets are not automatically divided equally between divorcing spouses, as many people incorrectly assume. Instead, courts have the discretion to distribute assets between divorcing spouses in any manner that the Court deems to be fair and equitable, and in determining fairness, court’s will consider a variety of factors including factors such as “how” and “when” a particular asset may have been acquired. The full list of factors that courts may consider in determining an equitable division of property in a divorce is as follows:
- The length of the parties’ marriage;
- The causes for the annulment, dissolution of the marriage or legal separation;
- Age of each of the parties;
- Health of each of the parties;
- Station of each of the parties;
- Occupation of each of the parties;
- Amount and sources of income for each of the parties;
- Earning capacity of each of the parties;
- Vocational skills of each of the parties;
- Education of each of the parties;
- Employability of each of the parties;
- Estate of each of the parties;
- Liabilities and needs of each of the parties;
- The opportunity of each party for future acquisition of capital assets and income; and
- The contribution of each of the parties in the acquisition, preservation or appreciation in value of their respective estates.
Accordingly, as a practical matter, Connecticut divorce Courts will sometimes award one spouse a greater portion, or in some cases the entirety of assets that the party brought into the marriage, or received during the marriage by way of gift or inheritance.
At Broder Orland Murray & DeMattie LLC, we are well-versed in all issues relating to property division and are extremely adept at crafting and presenting the strongest possible arguments on behalf of our clients to achieve favorable property divisions, whether through settlement or at trial.