Division of Marital Assets in Connecticut
It is a common misconception that assets owned by a party prior to the marriage, or solely during the marriage, may not be distributed to the other spouse by a divorce court. In Connecticut, unless there is an enforceable premarital or postnuptial agreement, on the date of dissolution of the marriage, the court may consider and distribute to either spouse any and all of the assets owned by either of them solely, or both of them jointly. In so doing, the law requires the court to consider the many and varied circumstances that each marriage presents at the time of divorce, and to enter financial orders that treat each spouse equitably and fairly given those circumstances.
The division of marital assets in Connecticut, as well as debts, between spouses requires the court to know and understand the nature, history of ownership and value of each of the assets of the spouses. Assets which are often divided by divorce courts include investment assets, real estate, retirement assets, artwork and collectibles, intellectual property, ownership interests in business entities, and virtually any other category of property right.
The attorneys at Ruel Ruel Burns Feldman & Britt, LLC have extensive experience in presenting legal arguments and expert testimony regarding the division of ownership interests in a closely held business, to ensure that any such interest is properly assigned a fair value at the time of divorce. It is quite common that the financial ups and downs that come with running a business can lead to strife within a marriage and occur simultaneously with the divorce process. In those cases, it is extremely important, regardless of the party whom our firm represents, that our attorneys diligently assess the facts to determine the fair value of the business ownership interest. We have decades of experience in performing the necessary document review and depositions required to do just that.
How are trusts handled in a Connecticut divorce?
A spouse may be the beneficiary of a trust consisting of substantial assets. Often, assets held within trusts hold significant value and attorneys representing the beneficiary spouse or the non-beneficiary spouse must ensure that the parties and court properly understand the rights of the beneficiary under the terms of the trust, even if the trust itself is governed by the laws of a state other than Connecticut. The attorneys at Ruel Ruel Burns Feldman & Britt, LLC may collaborate with attorneys who specialize in Trusts & Estate Law, allowing our firm to present in negotiations or in court the legal arguments and facts which will lead to dissolution orders that most benefit our clients under Connecticut divorce law.
It is also important for the debts of the spouses to be identified and for the court to assign responsibility for the payment of such debts, post-divorce, to one or both spouses. For example, ownership of the marital home is often assigned to one party, along with the responsibility to pay for mortgage payments and other costs associated with that home. If the other party is liable on the mortgage, the party assigned ownership of the home may be ordered to refinance the property within a certain period of time so as to remove the divorced spouse from the mortgage liability. The party that retains the marital home would also be ordered to indemnify and hold harmless the ex-spouse from the mortgage debt. Similar indemnification and hold harmless orders are usually entered with regard to the many other types of debts the parties may have at the time of divorce, including joint or individual tax debt and/or debts incurred on behalf of a business entity owned by one of the parties.
Connecticut law requires the division of marital assets in Connecticut to be done equitably, based upon a set of statutory factors. Courts have described equitable division as “what is fair and reasonable under all of the facts and circumstances of the case.” Since “what is fair” is subjective, the attorneys at Ruel Ruel Burns Feldman & Britt, LLC provide articulate and experienced counsel to perform the necessary investigative work in the discovery phase of the case, and to advocate for a fair result if the case goes to trial. Contact our family law attorneys today at 860-206-9096 or through our online contact form to schedule a consultation.