Connecticut courts consider many factors to determine what is fair and equitable. Keep in mind that the court will not decide how your assets are divided if you mediate – you and your spouse can be very creative in structuring a settlement that is fair and equitable to you. With mediation you will have much more control over the outcome. However, it is helpful to examine what factors a judge would consider to determine what is fair and equitable. It is important to remember that what may be equitable in your friend’s or neighbor’s divorce may be very different in your case. Each case and outcome is specific to the parties life and marriage.
If a court hears the case, it will examine the length of your marriage, how assets were acquired, how they were maintained, whether there is equity in your property, retirement accounts, your age and health, earnings and earning capacity, ability to acquire assets in the future, and whether there are young children in the care of one of the spouses that impacts that caretaker’s employment ability. These and many other factors will impact what is fair and equitable in your case.
Connecticut is an equitable distribution property state, however equitable does not necessarily mean equal. The Connecticut Superior Court can assign to either spouse all or any part of the estate of the other. Ownership of property after divorce will not depend solely on who owns title before the divorce. All property owned by either party individually or jointly may be allocated by the court. This approach to property division is referred to commonly as an “all property” distribution scheme. In contrast, some other states define certain property as separate property not subject to distribution upon divorce. Keep in mind as mentioned earlier that what is a fair and equitable division of property in your case may be quite different from that of your friend or neighbor’s. Property division is a complex issue, since many factors are considered by a court and many items may be considered property that might not seem obvious such as professional licenses.
One important area is valuation of property to create a sound basis for accurately and effectively distributing it. Parties can agree as to value, however if they do not agree then the use of expert witnesses who can testify about value may be necessary. If the value is not established sufficiently to the court, the court may treat an item of property as though it has no value and avoid distributing it to a nontitled party when it might have otherwise done so.
The court also must consider the contributions of each of the parties in the acquisition, preservation or appreciation of the value of their estates. If you can reach an agreement with the other party as to how property is divided and distributed after divorce, whether through the help of a mediator, arbitrator or marital property division attorneys, the Court will not make those decisions, you will!