Your home may be the most valuable asset you and your spouse own, so it will be important for you to claim your ownership interest during a divorce. Connecticut courts split all assets in an equitable manner; the split should be fair if not equal. If you and your spouse both get a share of the house in your divorce, you may have to sell it or refinance to actually split the value.
Connecticut is an “equitable distribution” state, which means Connecticut courts strive to divide property fairly between spouses -- but not necessarily equally. To reach a decision, Connecticut judges consider various factors, including the length of the marriage, the reasons for the divorce, the sources of income available to each spouse and the needs of each spouse. Neither spouse is guaranteed to receive half of the house. Instead, the court will award a percentage of the home -- and other assets -- based on the court’s discretion.
Marital vs. Separate Property
Connecticut is one of the few states that does not differentiate between separate property and marital property. Both types of property are subject to division by a Connecticut court. In other states, it may matter that one spouse bought the house prior to the marriage or received it as a gift or inheritance. The manner in which the property was acquired could remove the property from the court’s consideration, but not in Connecticut.
Dividing the House
Since Connecticut gives both spouses rights to some portion of the equity in the home, the court likely will divide the home’s value between spouses. If spouses don’t agree on a martial settlement to sell the house and divide the proceeds, the judge can order it sold and the cash proceeds divided according to his equitable distribution percentage -- maybe 50/50, 60/40 or even 70/30, depending on the circumstances of that particular marriage. The value of the house could also be divided by offsetting a percentage the amount of equity with an award of another asset of equal value to the spouse who is giving up the house.
Transfer of Ownership
If the spouses agree that one of them will keep the house, the spouse who keeps the house might have to buy out the other spouse’s equity interest. Even if there is no buyout, the spouse giving up the house likely wants his name taken off the deed and mortgage. To take his name off the deed to the house, the spouse giving up the house can sign a quitclaim deed, which transfers his ownership interest to his wife. To put the mortgage in one name only, the spouse keeping the house can try to refinance the house.