Divorce is a big step. The breakdown of a marriage can be complicated and emotional, especially if the couple has been together a long time, has accumulated significant marital property, or have children.
Knowing what to expect is helpful if you and your spouse have decided to dissolve your marriage. Although Connecticut divorce requirements are legally straightforward, they are not intuitive and a couple failing to follow procedures precisely can create significant delays.
It is wise to seek legal help when ending a marriage. A divorce attorney can guide you through the process to ensure you accomplish your goals.
Connecticut law provides numerous grounds for divorce. Some reasons allow a couple to divorce without proving one spouse is more to blame for the marriage breakdown. Other justifications require an individual to prove the fault of the other spouse.
The law offers two no-fault reasons for divorce. A couple could agree that their marriage is broken and there is no chance of repairing it. Most couples cite an irretrievably broken marriage as grounds for divorce. The other no-fault basis for divorce is that the couple has lived separately for at least 18 months, and there is no hope of reconciliation.
Fault grounds include adultery, abandonment, cruelty, habitual intoxication, and others. Some spouses feel that pursuing a fault-based divorce might benefit them when a court considers child custody and property division issues. A seasoned attorney could bring relevant abusive or inappropriate behavior to the court’s attention in a no-fault proceeding. Pursuing fault-based divorce does not necessarily benefit a party’s case. A legal advocate can help an individual understand the requirements of either type of divorce in Connecticut.
A divorce is a civil lawsuit, even if the couple seeks a no-fault divorce and agrees on all relevant matters. One spouse must initiate the suit by filing documents seeking a divorce. The spouse who makes the initial filing will be the plaintiff in the proceeding. The other spouse will be the defendant.
Connecticut General Statutes §46b-44 governs residency requirements for seeking a divorce in the state. One spouse must have lived in Connecticut for at least a year before the couple can seek a divorce, but either person can file the paperwork with the Connecticut Superior Court. A couple seeking divorce also meets the state’s residency requirements if they married in Connecticut, moved away, and returned with a plan to remain in the state. If the grounds for the marriage breakdown occurred in Connecticut, a local court has jurisdiction to grant the divorce on those grounds.
If the couple meets the residency requirement, one spouse initiates the divorce by filing specific forms. Seeking help from a legal representative can ensure the spouse understands the forms and completes them correctly. The documents necessary to initiate a divorce include:
Once the forms are complete, the petitioning spouse must arrange to have them served on the other spouse. Where the parties are communicating about the divorce initiation, the other spouse can waive formal service, which streamlines the process.
After the spouses file paperwork to initiate a divorce, they must wait 90 days before a court will issue the divorce, unless a waiver of the waiting period is filed and subsequently granted. They could use the interim time to negotiate property division and alimony. If they have children, they must also agree on child support and a parenting plan that covers child custody and visitation. A skilled lawyer can assist a couple in negotiating and drafting the necessary agreements.
If a couple presents the court with written agreements on these essential matters, the court will review them. A court will accept a couple’s agreement on property division and alimony unless it is unfair. The judge must review all agreements related to children to ensure they support the children’s best interests. A court will grant a divorce if the judge finds all the arrangements acceptable.
If a couple has not agreed on all relevant issues, a court will schedule another hearing in the future. Courts often suggest a couple try mediation or another form of guided negotiation to resolve their issues before the next court date.
Managing the emotional, financial, and practical consequences of divorce are challenging. Legal support is crucial even if you feel you understand Connecticut divorce requirements.