DIVIDING ASSETS AND DEBT
If you are seriously considering filing for divorce you should begin taking stock of your assets and debt. Connecticut is an equitable division State which basically means that the Court has wide discretion in dividing assets between spouses. Some couples find that dividing assets and debt is the hardest part of the divorce, so you should be proactive about doing this. If you and your spouse can maintain a line of open communication, this process can be relatively painless. Understanding the division of your assets and debt is the first step in sorting this step of the divorce process out.There are two types of property and debt that you and your spouse have– marital property and separate property. Generally, marital property is any asset or property that you acquired with your spouse over the course of your marriage. For example, a house purchased at the beginning of your marriage would be considered marital property. Similarly, joint bank accounts and debt acquired over the course of your marriage is marital property. You and your spouse will both have claims on this type of property/debt.
The other type of property – separate property – consists of the assets and the debt that you or your spouse had before you got married. For example, if you purchased a car two years before your marriage, this is car may be considered your separate property. Likewise, if you have student loans, a home, or other major assets/debts that you acquired before you were married, you may be responsible for the same. Factors such as whether your kept the property separate during the marriage and whether you co-mingled marital funds or assets with your separate property will impact how a Court will view separate property.
As mentioned above, the state of Connecticut uses an equitable distribution law when dividing property. This law allows for property to be divided between the parties in a way that is fair, but not necessarily equal. A court will use the statutory factors such as a spouses opportunity to acquire future assets and income, the length of the marriage, causes of the breakdown of the marriage, age, health, station and occupation of the parties. For example, if you and your spouse have marital debt in the form of a mortgage, a judge may order that one spouse stay in the home and be responsible for the mortgage, taxes, insurance and customary household expenses.
If you and your spouse cannot divide your property and debt on your own, the court will intervene. If possible, it is a good idea to divide your property without the assistance of the court. This is because court battles can become ugly, and you will lose control over the outcome of the situation when you give it to a judge. Of course, if you cannot communicate with your spouse, taking your case to court might be in your best interest.