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Getting divorced in Connecticut is a specific legal process.
This page is a layman’s brief description of the Connecticut divorce process. It is impossible to cover here, all the possible variables that can come into play in your particular circumstance.
Before filing for divorce in Connecticut you should understand the following:
There is a residency requirement.
At least one spouse must have lived in Connecticut for 12 months prior to filing the Divorce compliant, or at least 12 months before the final divorce decree is issued. Exceptions may apply if you were previously a resident of Connecticut and moved back to the state with the intention of remaining permanently.
Fault is relevant in the State of Connecticut. However, you can obtain a divorce without proving fault. The court will grant a divorce on the grounds that a marriage has “irretrievably broken down”. This would be considered a No Fault divorce and is usually uncontested.
Though No-Fault divorce is possible, CT divorce courts do take fault into consideration. Fault will be considered, and given weight, by the court when determining financial orders such as alimony, division of property, child support, and child custody.
Examples of grounds for a Fault divorce in CT include:
Confinement to a mental institution (specific time frames)
The State of Connecticut is an “All Property Equitable Distribution” state. This means the Court can equitably assign any portion of an estate to either the husband or wife. This is not necessarily 50/50. The elements the court will consider in equitable distribution are:
Length of the marriage
Cause of divorce,
Ages, health, and special needs
Occupations and all incomes
Vocational skills and employability
Earning capacities and future prospects
Assets and liabilities
Contributions in the building of estate
Homemaking is a valuable contribution
The Divorce Process
The spouse seeking a divorce (plaintiff) files the Divorce Complaint (divorce papers) with the Superior Court for the Judicial District in which one or both spouses lives.
The Divorce Complaint includes information about current living arrangements, the reason for the divorce, and any children from the marriage. If the spouses do not agree on division of marital property, debts, alimony, child support, and child custody the plaintiff can ask the court to make a determination on these and other issues. Even the restoration of a prior name.
Upon filing the divorce complaint, the court enters a Notice of Automatic Court Orders. These are restraining orders preventing both parties from certain actions. The courts can modify any of these orders, or spouses can agree to waive any order. These are the types of restraining orders:
Withdrawing large sums of money
Incurring large debt
Changing Life insurance beneficiaries
There are two important dates. The Return Date and The Case Management Date.
The Return date starts your case. In most cases the Marshall will deliver the divorce papers (summons) to your spouse within four weeks. You or the court will receive a “Return of Service” notice which verifies the other spouse has been served the divorce papers. Upon receiving the Return of Notice, the court will start processing the Divorce Complaint and the $350.00 filing fee is required.
The Case Management date is typically scheduled 90 days after the Return date. This 90 day period gives the couple time to work out an agreement. This Case Management Date is a mandatory date for meeting with the Judge. In certain circumstances this 90 day period could be shorter.
If the divorce is Uncontested, and the couple has a divorce agreement, the court could approve you divorce on this day.
If the divorce is contested, and no agreement exists, there will be time frames for discovery, depositions, review of financial affidavits, identify witnesses, and pretrial dates are assigned. This process can take up to a year, or more, and be very costly.
It may be necessary to have interim or immediate decision. You can petition the court by filing papers (a motion) asking the court to make temporary decisions on issues such as child support, visitation, alimony, payments of bills, etc...
You can do it yourself
It is a good idea for both spouses to have attorneys if there is no way one spouse, or both spouses, could possibly trust the other to negotiate in good faith. In a situation where both spouses are willing to agree and work together on their divorce. It is not required that you have attorneys. Connecticut divorce law provides for Do It Yourself divorce, know as Pro Se divorce. Both parties will need to agree to a reasonable division of assets and liabilities, and whether there will be any spousal support. If children are involved, a Child Custody agreement and a realistic Co-Parenting and visitation plan must be agreed too. In an uncontested no-fault divorce, doing it yourself can save a lot of time and money. Even in a fault divorce situation it is still possible to do it yourself, if both spouses are still willing to agree and work together on their divorce.
Even though both spouses are willing to work together on their divorce, coming to agreement on all the areas that must be agreed upon, can be difficult. Divorce mediation is now recommended, and even required, by divorce courts to help couples come to agreement on their own. It is simply not necessary to litigate every divorce agreement. Mediation is far more efficient and an effective way for a couple to come to agreement.
Contact S. M. Edwards & Associates LLC, to find out how mediation can save you time and money.