New Canaan Property Division Lawyer
Every year hundreds of thousands of married couples in the United States get divorced. While divorce is relatively common, that does not make going through the process any easier. There are many complex issues that need to be resolved before a divorce can be finalized. For many divorcing couples, property division is the most contentious issue. You need to know how to protect your legal rights and financial interests.
At The Family Law Firm Healy Eliot + McCann, our Fairfield County property division attorneys provide reliable, solutions-oriented legal representation to clients. We will protect your rights and help you find the best path forward. If you have any questions about the property division, our legal team is here as a resource. To set up a fully confidential consultation with a top-rated Connecticut divorce attorney, please call our New Canaan law office at 203-652-8018 or reach out to us online.
An Overview of the Property Division Laws in Connecticut
In Connecticut, courts adhere to the principle of "equitable distribution" when it comes to the division of property. This means that property of the marriage—both assets and debts—will be divided in a manner that is deemed equitable, rather than one that is necessarily equal.
Notably, unlike some other “equitable distribution” states, in Connecticut all assets, no matter how they are titled or how or when they were acquired, are subject to equitable distribution by the Court. Some factors that may be considered when applying the equitable property division standard include:
- The duration of the marriage
- The age and health status of each person
- The current income and projected future earning capacity of each spouse
- The needs of each spouse and standard of living during the marriage
- Contributions made by each party to marriage and family
- The reason for the breakdown of the relationship
Notably, the equitable distribution laws in Connecticut include assets that are commonly defined as “separate property” in other states, such as assets owned by a party prior to the marriage or inherited by just one spouse during the marriage. In Connecticut, even these assets are subject to distribution.
There is no specific formula for determining an equitable division of assets in a Connecticut divorce. Instead, the property will be equitably divided based upon consideration of numerous statutory factors. If you have any specific questions about property division, please contact our Connecticut divorce lawyers for immediate assistance at 203-652-8018.
Division of Property in High Asset Divorces
For better or worse, high net worth spouses or couples with a substantial marital estate often have more complex divorces. Among other reasons, this can be because such cases often involve intricate business valuations, multiple real estate properties, and/or high standards of living.
When it comes to the financial side of any divorce, the first step is to value all of the parties' assets. The more complex or sophisticated the assets are, the more expertise and time will likely be required to determine their values, and the more likely it is that disputes will arise over the value of certain assets.
Of course, not all assets are the same. Liquid assets (assets in money markets or bank accounts) may not be as complex as real estate holdings, business interests, complex trusts, retirement assets, or other investments.
In a high net worth divorce, it is critical to work with an attorney who is familiar with the multitude of complex and nuanced valuation issues that can arise with a diverse and complicated asset portfolio. High net worth divorces often require the use and selection of experts to value businesses, the tax consequences of restructuring assets, and sometimes lifestyle experts.
Dividing Retirement Assets in Divorce: Know the Importance of a QDRO
For many divorcing couples, their retirement accounts/retirement benefits are among their most valuable collective assets. When dividing retirement savings in a divorce, it is imperative that you use the proper legal procedures. You cannot simply make an early withdrawal from a tax-advantaged retirement account and split up the proceeds—as doing so could result in early surrender fees and other tax penalties.
The good news is that there is a solution available. A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is a specialized type of court order that allows parties to divide tax-advantaged retirement savings and/or retirement benefits without facing any penalties or fees. Our New Canaan, CT property division lawyers can help you draft a Qualified Domestic Relations Order that effectively protects your financial interests.
Connecticut Requires Financial Disclosures But Hidden Assets Can Be an Issue
You cannot split up your marital property in a fair and equitable manner unless you know exactly what you own. For this reason, it is recommended that couples take a comprehensive inventory of their assets prior to a divorce.
Additionally, under Connecticut law, parties to a contested divorce case are required to make certain financial disclosures to their partner. In other words, your spouse must tell you exactly what they own. Failure to disclose assets is a serious violation of Connecticut law.
Unfortunately, concealed assets remain a significant problem in many divorce cases. If you believe that your spouse is improperly hiding assets, our New Canaan divorce lawyers can help. There are a number of legal tools/strategies that can be used to uncover hidden assets, including:
- Expert analysis of financial documents and records
- Demands for the production of relevant documents
- Depositions conducted under oath
- Subpoenas to third parties, potentially including financial institutions
Are Marital Debts Divided in a Divorce?
Yes. In Connecticut, courts have the authority to consider both assets and liabilities in a divorce case. Generally speaking, the court will assign a marital debt to one spouse or the other as part of the overall property division arrangement. Debts are subject to Connecticut's equitable distribution standard. In other words, a divorcing couple's debts are not always divided in a 50-50 manner. Instead, liabilities will be split “fairly” given the specific circumstances of the case. If you have any questions about debt and divorce, our New Canaan, CT property division attorneys are here to help.
What Happens If My Spouse is Wasting or Abusing Our Marital Assets?
The waste or abuse of marital property is often referred to as the “dissipation” of assets. In Connecticut, a court can consider a spouse's dissipation of assets when applying the equitable distribution standard.
Put another way, a court may award you a greater share of the marital property to account for the improper actions of your partner. Some examples of conduct that could qualify as dissipation of assets in Connecticut include:
- Incurring large gambling loss
- Using money to support a drug/alcohol addiction
- Using money to support an extramarital affair
- Otherwise spending in an extreme or unreasonably reckless manner
While a court can take action to address the dissipation of assets when dividing property, it is always best to stop waste or abuse before it happens. Under Connecticut state law, you may be able to get an injunction to prevent your former partner from wasting any more money or property before the divorce is finalized. If you have questions about the dissipation of assets, our New Canaan, CT divorce lawyers are available to help.
You Can Rely on Our Connecticut Property Division Attorneys
Dividing property and assets in a divorce can be challenging. At The Family Law Firm Healy Eliot + McCann, we are here to make sure that you know your rights and are in the best position to protect your interests. When you call our New Canaan office, you will have an opportunity to consult with a Connecticut divorce lawyer who can:
- Answer your questions during a comprehensive initial case evaluation;
- Gather the documentation and information you need to proceed;
- Represent you in divorce settlement negotiations; and
- Take proactive action to help you obtain the most favorable outcome.
The division of property, assets, and debts is personal. A one-size-fits-all approach is not good enough for you or your family. We will put in the time, energy, and focus into your case. With deep experience in divorce cases and a record of testimonials for former clients, you can trust our New Canaan, CT property division lawyers for top-quality legal representation.
Contact Our New Canaan Property Division Attorneys for Immediate Assistance
At The Family Law Firm Healy Eliot + McCann, our New Canaan family law attorneys have extensive experience representing clients in complex property division cases. Given that divorce law in Connecticut is complicated even if you do not have substantial marital property, it is extremely important to work with an experienced New Canaan or Fairfield County divorce lawyer.
The dedicated advocates at our law firm can examine the circumstances of your case today and can work with you to achieve the best possible outcome in your divorce case. To schedule an in-person or virtual meeting with one of our New Canaan property division lawyers, please call 203-652-8018 or complete our online contact form. The Family Law Firm Healy Eliot + McCann provides family & divorce services throughout Fairfield County, including in Bridgeport, Norwalk, Danbury, Stratford, Greenwich, and Stamford.