It can be a painful, emotional experience when a married couple decides to divorce, but many people are surprised to find that the actual process of divorce itself can be quite dry and technical. This is especially true for couples without young children, where the biggest issues involved the division of marital property.

Connecticut courts follow a rule known as equitable distribution. Essentially, this means the parties must separate any personal property from the marital property, and then divide the marital property in such a way as to make sure each party gets an equitable share.

What is an equitable share? In this sense, equitable does not mean “equal.” Rather, an equitable share is a proportion of the marital property that meets standards of fairness under the circumstances of the divorce.

To determine an equitable share, a Connecticut court will consider factors such as: the length of the marriage; the ages, health and special needs of the spouses; the occupations or employment opportunities of the spouses; the amount each spouse contributed to the marital property; the amount of work each spouse contributed to the household upkeep; the personal property of each spouse; the contribution to childcare of each spouse; and more.

It’s important to note that most divorces today are settled out of court. In these cases, it is not the judge making all the decisions about dividing the marital property. Instead, the parties have to work it out themselves through extensive negotiation, with each spouse represented by independent counsel.

It can be difficult to sit across the table from an ex and argue about money. In some cases, it may be a good idea to find a qualified mediator to facilitate the negotiation.

The end result is a settlement that meets the needs of both parties and prepares them for the next, independent phase of their lives. Compared to a court decision, a negotiated settlement is typically faster and less expensive, and it gives the parties greater control over their outcomes.