Divorce is a big step, and if you decide to take it, the process will likely require a significant allocation of your time and attention for several months or longer. Knowing what to expect and how to prepare can help you navigate divorce more easily.
A Fairfield divorce lawyer can explain what divorce entails, allowing you to make a well-informed decision before deciding to dissolve your marriage. If you have already decided to divorce or begun the process, our local family attorneys can help you negotiate or litigate agreements that support your family, protect your rights, and position you for a successful transition to single life.
Only people who meet specific requirements may file for divorce in Connecticut. If one of the spouses has lived in the state for at least one year, a local court will preside over a divorce here. If the couple married in the state and lived elsewhere but then returned with the intention of staying permanently, a court might hear their divorce even if they have not been back a full year.
The couple must have grounds for divorce. Connecticut General Statutes § 46b-40 allows a spouse to cite irreconcilable differences as the grounds for divorce, which relieves either spouse of having to prove the other committed marital misconduct. Separation for at least 18 months is also a viable ground for divorce. The law also offers several fault-based grounds—a spouse should discuss the costs and benefits of seeking a fault-based divorce with an experienced Fairfield attorney before filing.
If the spouses can reach an acceptable separation agreement before filing, they can seek an uncontested divorce and ask to waive the 90-day waiting period before the divorce becomes effective. They can be divorced within a few weeks of filing. Couples who have disputes over property division, alimony, or issues related to their children must file for a contested divorce. The process may take a few months or more than a year, depending on their specific circumstances.
Married couples have intertwined legal and financial lives; a divorce must undo those entanglements. The final divorce decree must establish how the couple will divide their property, whether a spouse will receive ongoing financial support, and how parents intend to co-parent their children.
Connecticut law calls for the equitable division of marital property, which is anything either spouse or the couple owns, unless there is an executed prenuptial or postnuptial agreement designating certain assets as separate property. In the case of short term marriages, the property each brought to the marriage is often treated as separate property and awarded to the titled spouse. A prenuptial or other marital agreement can simplify the property division process. However, a diligent divorce lawyer in Fairfield may challenge a marital contract if it was not properly executed or is unreasonably one-sided.
Parents also must establish a child support arrangement and design a workable parenting plan. The parenting plan designates which parent will have decision making authority for the children or whether the parents will share it. The plan also must contain a detailed schedule describing where the children will live, how much time they will spend with each parent, where they will be for holidays and birthdays, and establishing any necessary ground rules for parental behavior during visits.
A divorce is less expensive, less stressful, and usually quicker when the spouses can agree on the relevant issues before filing for divorce. Divorce mediation is often effective in helping couples finalize agreements, especially when the couple communicates well, and both spouses are motivated to complete the process amicably. The couple then submits their agreements to the court with their divorce filing, the judge reviews the agreements, and usually grants the divorce without the need for a hearing.
Sometimes, a couple communicates effectively but has complicated finances, health issues, or children with special needs. Collaborative divorce can be an effective and efficient solution in such cases. The couple hires a team of professionals with expertise in the issues relevant to their divorce, and each spouse hires a Fairfield lawyer to protect their individual interests. The collaborative divorce team assists the couple in resolving their problems before they file for divorce, allowing them to submit agreements with the divorce petition.
Some couples must file for a contested divorce, which means one spouse files the divorce petition before the couple has agreed on all relevant issues. The couple and their attorneys usually continue to negotiate while the divorce is pending; judges often send couples to mediation before they set a trial date. If the couple cannot agree on one or more relevant issues, the court holds a trial, and a judge makes the final decision. A litigated divorce is the most expensive, time-consuming, and stressful method of obtaining a divorce.
A divorce can be a complicated legal undertaking. Sound legal advice is critical to ease and speed up the process while protecting your rights.
Consult a Fairfield divorce lawyer at our firm if you are considering divorce or have already decided to end your marriage. Reach out today to get started.