Property Division – Assets & Liabilities
Connecticut is not a community property state. Marital property is distributed in a manner that the court finds fair but not necessarily equal. The court may assign to either spouse all or any part of the estate of the other. Property deemed to be marital is distributed between the spouses in a manner that the court determines to be fair and equitable based upon the statutory criteria: length of the marriage, causes of the dissolution, age, health, station, occupation, amount and sources of income, earning capacity, vocational skills, education, employability, estate, liabilities and needs of each of the parties, and the opportunity for the future acquisition of capital assets and income. The court shall also consider the contribution of each of the parties in the acquisition, preservation or appreciation in value of their respective estates. While the trial court must consider the delineated statutory criteria, no single criterion is preferred over the others, and the court is accorded wide latitude in varying the weight placed upon each item under the peculiar circumstances of each case.
An equitable distribution of property should take into consideration the plaintiff’s contributions to the marriage, including nonmonetary as well as monetary contributions such as homemaking activities and primary care taking responsibilities.
As a general framework, the court identifies whether the resource is property within to be equitably distributed (classification); second, what is the appropriate method for determining the value of the property (valuation); and third, what is the most equitable distribution of the property between the parties (distribution).
In assessing the value of property the court weighs the opinions of the appraisers, the claims of the parties, and its own general knowledge of the elements going to establish value, and then employs the most appropriate method of determining valuation. The court has the right to accept so much of the testimony of the experts and the recognized appraisal methods which they employed as it finds applicable.
Connecticut courts have taken a rather broad and comprehensive view of the meaning of the term “property” for purposes of equitable distribution. However, they continue to recognize that the marital estate refers to interests already acquired, not to expected or unvested interests, or to interests that the court has not quantified. The court must look at the nature of any contingency to determine whether it is so speculative as to be deemed a mere expectancy, or, whether it is sufficiently concrete, reasonable and justifiable as to constitute a presently existing property interest for equitable distribution purposes.
Additionally, the court considers any dissipation of family assets in ordering the overall asset division between the parties so long as the actions constituting dissipation occur either:
- in contemplation of divorce or separation; or
- while the marriage is in serious jeopardy or is undergoing a irretrievable breakdown.
PARRINO|SHATTUCK, PC offers sophisticated legal counsel in all divorce-related matters. We assist our clients in navigating the legal path to dissolving their marriage by formulating case-specific objectives and strategies designed to protect their financial interests.
PARRINO|SHATTUCK, PC is located on the Saugatuck River in Westport, Connecticut. We represent clients in family matters throughout Connecticut, including but not limited to Fairfield, Middlesex, New London and Litchfield Counties. Our clients reside in Greenwich, Darien, New Canaan, Ridgefield, Westport, Weston, Wilton, Fairfield, Easton, West Hartford, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Essex. We also frequently appear before the Regional Family Trial Court located in Middletown, Connecticut, as well as the Judicial Districts of Stamford, Bridgeport, New Haven, Danbury, Milford, Norwich, and Hartford.