The first step in filing for divorce is drafting the legal pleadings and having your spouse served by a marshal. Filling out legal documents can be difficult, and completing these forms incorrectly could negatively impact your case. If you need assistance filing for divorce in New Haven, a skilled attorney can guide you through it.
The spouse filing for divorce, or the plaintiff, must submit the necessary pleadings to the court to initiate the process. Divorce pleadings consist, at a minimum, of a summons, complaint, and automatic orders.
The divorce complaint is a document listing the date of the marriage, shared children, and the cause of the breakdown of the marriage. The filing party must articulate in the complaint the relief sought in the case, such as a dissolution of marriage, an equitable division of assets and debts, support and custody.
Plaintiffs may also submit pendente lite motions, which are temporary orders to be enforced during the duration of the divorce proceedings. These motions can include requests for alimony, contributions to household expenses, custody and visitation, or occupancy of the marital home.
After completing this paperwork, the filing party must send it to a marshal who will then serve their spouse. A knowledgeable attorney can help a plaintiff draft, file and serve all necessary divorce pleadings.
The plaintiff must serve the other spouse, or the defendant, with divorce papers at their address. Where the spouse to be served lives out of state, the plaintiff can request permission from the court to serve that party by certified mail in lieu of enlisting a process server in that foreign state to effectuate service.
Where a party is unaware of their spouse’s exact address, but know the city or county of residence, they can request that the court permit them to serve the defendant by publication. This involves putting out an ad in a local newspaper informing them of the divorce proceedings. Those who are unaware of their spouse’s whereabouts may benefit from working with a lawyer to file and serve divorce papers.
Once served by the marshal, the defendant must file an appearance in the case within 30 days of the “return date.” In Connecticut, the “return date,” which is purely an administrative date, is always on a Tuesday.
The defendant can choose to file a cross-complaint for marital dissolution. However, if they fail to respond within the mandated timeframe, the court may proceed with a judgment in their absence. A local attorney can help an individual spouse file an appearance after being served a divorce complaint.
The spouse responding to the divorce complaint may also contest the causes of the breakdown of the relationship cited in the filing paperwork. For example, someone who is served with a fault-based divorce may wish to contest the reasons listed for the breakdown of the marriage.
Alternatively, two parties who agree on the reason for the breakdown of the marriage can work with a mediator to file the appropriate paperwork and obtain an uncontested divorce date. A divorce lawyer can represent an individual seeking to contest the terms of dissolution or work with spouses filing together.
If you are seeking to end your marriage, consider retaining legal counsel. Working with a lawyer can facilitate the process of filing for divorce in New Haven.
At Dolan Divorce Lawyers, our team can help you draft dissolution paperwork or respond to a spouse who served you. Contact us today to start discussing your case with a seasoned attorney.