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Home » Separate and Marital Property: Who Gets What in Divorce?

Separate and Marital Property: Who Gets What in Divorce?

July 3, 2024

Unlike some states, Connecticut does not distinguish between separate and marital property in divorce. All property owned by either spouse at the time of the divorce is marital property subject to equitable distribution. However, that does not mean that all property is necessarily treated the same for purposes of equitable distribution. Instead, courts take into account several factors in determining how to split the couple’s assets and liabilities in divorce fairly.

What Is Included in Marital Property in Connecticut?

Marital property in Connecticut includes all property owned by the parties at the time of the divorce regardless of how and when the asset was acquired and regardless of how the asset is titled, unless a prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement states otherwise. Even assets like gifts, inheritances, trust funds received by a party, pensions, stock options, and other assets in the name of one spouse are marital property. There are no automatic carve outs for separate property under Connecticut law.

How Is Marital Property Divided in Divorce in Connecticut?

Connecticut law provides for equitable distribution of marital property. Equitable distribution does not necessarily mean equal distribution of property between spouses. Courts consider the following statutory factors in dividing property:

the length of the marriage, the causes for the annulment, dissolution of the marriage or legal separation, the age, health, station, occupation, amount and sources of income, earning capacity, vocational skills, education, employability, estate, liabilities and needs of each of the parties and the opportunity of each for future acquisition of capital assets and income. The court shall also consider the contribution of each of the parties in the acquisition, preservation or appreciation in value of their respective estates. 

Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46b-81 (emphasis added).

The last factor is particularly relevant where a spouse has assets, such as premarital assets or inherited assets, that were acquired separate and apart from the other spouse. The fact that a spouse acquired property before marriage and/or solely contributed to the appreciation of an asset would be considered by the court. However, the length of the marriage, the age and needs of the parties, and other factors, as appropriate, would also be weighed in the judge’s discretion in determining how to divide said assets. Each case is fact specific and Courts have discretion in determining how property should be divided in a Connecticut divorce. 

How Do Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreements Affect the Division of Property?

Couples can be proactive and agree on how they want to divide property in the event of  divorce or death. An agreement signed before the parties wed is called a prenuptial agreement. One signed during marriage is a postnuptial agreement.

Either type of agreement can define what does and does not constitute marital property subject to equitable distribution. For example, the parties can decide that any assets acquired before marriage will be separate property or carve out certain assets like an inheritance as separate property. They can also provide that separate property becomes marital property if the parties remain married after a specified time period or if they agree to a protocol where separate property could become marital property.

Prenuptial agreements and postnuptial agreements can be a practical solution helping couples avoid disputes over property in divorce. However, any agreement should be carefully negotiated and reviewed by a lawyer.

If you are considering divorce, or entering into a prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement, our attorneys have extensive experience addressing diverse financial issues in these contexts. Contact us to learn how we can help you.

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