When you get divorced, you must determine how your assets will be divided, no matter what state in the U.S. you are located. However, not all states treat this process the same way. Connecticut is among the few states that adhere to a unique set of laws to allocate property when a marriage is dissolved.
Here’s what to know about marital property in Connecticut vs. the United States and how experienced CT divorce lawyer Heidi E. Opinksy can help.
Understanding Separate and Marital Property
First, it’s important to understand the difference between separate and marital property and how most states, including New York, treat these two types of assets in a divorce. Then, you can evaluate the differences between those laws and Connecticut marital property law.
Separate Property Defined
In states that recognize it, separate property is property or assets that only one spouse owns. Examples of separate property include money or assets that were gifted or inherited, and assets acquired prior to the wedding.
While married, couples in states that use separate property must isolate individual assets from their marital assets. The act of combining separate and marital property is known as “commingling,” and can result in what would have been separate assets being treated as marital property.
Marital Property Defined
With the exception of gifts or inheritance, marital property is any asset obtained during the marriage. For example, say the couple contributed to retirement savings or bought a house with marital funds during the marriage, then both parties hold these assets.
Marital funds are defined as any money acquired by either spouse during the marriage for any work, the sale of goods, or other sources of income that are not inherited or gifted. Contrary to popular belief, a person’s earned wages do not belong only to them once they are married.
Does Separate Property Exist In Connecticut?
Connecticut marital property law states that all property in the state is to be treated as marital property. Regardless of how or when the assets were acquired or whose name they are in, property owned by the couple at the time of divorce is divided equitably between both spouses.
Superior Court judges have sweeping authority to award marital property to one spouse or award separate property to either spouse. This is in part what makes it critical to work with an experienced CT divorce lawyer; your attorney can help oversee the process of property division in Connecticut to ensure that you and your children, if applicable, receive what you are entitled to.
Types of assets that are considered marital or community property in CT include but are not limited to:
- The family home
- Separate and/or shared vehicle(s)
- Physical property like furniture, jewelry, and heirlooms
- Retirement funds
Other Marital Property States
Most states consider property owned prior to a marriage separate and will award it to that spouse at the time of divorce. Gifts, personal injury or other court awards, and inheritance funds are also typically considered separate and are awarded to the spouse to whom those assets were originally given. There are only a few other states that use marital property or community property laws when dividing assets in a divorce, including:
- New Mexico
Connecticut, however, is not technically a community property state even though all assets are considered marital or shared by the divorcing couple. It’s an equitable distribution state, like New York and most other states on the East Coast. Equitable distribution means that although property may not be distributed equally or 50/50, it will be distributed equitably, or fairly.
Will a Prenuptial Agreement Supercede Connecticut’s Marital Property Law?
In most cases, Connecticut Superior Courts will distribute a couple’s assets according to a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, provided the contract was freely and voluntarily entered into and full financial disclosure was made at the time. This means if you have separate property named in your prenup, the court is less likely to award some or all of it to your spouse.
Call Experienced CT Divorce Lawyer Heidi E. Opinksy Today
Getting a divorce in Connecticut is not only emotional, it’s legally complex. You need an advocate in your corner with experience helping negotiate CT divorce settlements.
Contact Heidi E. Opinsky today to learn more about property distribution or to book a consultation to discuss your legal options. Call now at 203-653-3542; our office is available now to assist you.