A prenuptial agreement is a financial planning tool that determines how a couple splits their assets in the event of a divorce. The prenuptial agreement does not cover child custody issues, child support, or visitation rights. If you have children, it is important that you consult with a divorce attorney or divorce mediator.
Help! I’m getting divorced. How does the prenuptial agreement help with division of property?
Connecticut is an “all-property” state. That means all property is considered marital property. It does not matter how it was titled, when it was acquired, or whether it was received as a gift or inheritance. The definition of marital property can include the primary home, vacation or rental properties, and if either partner started (or already had) a business.
Because all property is considered marital property, Connecticut divorce courts have more latitude around dividing property. In Connecticut, the law requires that the division of property be equitable. That means your assets must be split in a fair, but not necessarily equal, manner. Even so, having a prenuptial agreement provides guidelines around yours/mine/ours.
There are times when a prenuptial agreement gets convoluted. For example, marital and separate property can become mixed together. This is called commingling and it happens when pre-marriage assets (bank accounts, mortgage payments) are managed by income generated by either spouse, blurring the line between yours and mine.
If you want to avoid a courtroom battle by seeking an amicable, or friendly divorce, here are some ideas on how to divide your assets:
- Assign certain items to each spouse
- Sell property and divide the proceeds
- Hold the property jointly (a good solution if children are involved and you want to keep the primary residence)
- Agree which party will be responsible for debts accrued during the marriage. This includes mortgages, car loans, credit card debt.
It’s a good idea if you and your spouse can decide together how to make the split. Otherwise you can work with a divorce attorney or divorce mediator to negotiate a settlement. Barring that, you will go to court where an arbitrator or a judge will make the decision for you.
Should it come to that, the courts will make the decision based on some of these factors:
- Your age, health, station in life
- Your occupation, vocational skills, employability (critical if one of you was a stay-at-home parent)
- Amount and sources of income
- Liabilities and needs, plus the opportunity to acquire future capital assets (another home, for example)
- Length of the marriage
- Cause for the dissolution of the marriage (if one of the spouses was primarily responsible for the breakdown of the marriage)
There is no one formula for determining an equitable split. That’s why it is best if the couple can decide how to manage this on their own. If an amicable, or friendly, divorce, is not an option, a qualified divorce attorney can negotiate your divorce settlement in Connecticut.
If you have questions about how your prenuptial agreement affects your divorce, please call CT Mediation Center. We’re happy to answer any questions you might have.