The divorce procedure necessitates understanding the Connecticut legal system and the emotional and practical concerns associated with dissolving a marriage. While it could seem intimidating, it needn’t be too challenging, especially if you and your reasonably short ex can work together. What you need to know to begin a Connecticut divorce is provided here.
You must comprehend the procedures and laws that will apply to your divorce in Connecticut if you want to have the best opportunity of receiving a just result. Many of these problems are widespread across all cases in the state, so being aware of them will increase your confidence as you resolve them. This article will explain to you divorce in Connecticut.
Residency Requirements for Divorce In Connecticut
Any time after you or your spouse have maintained a home in the state, you may file your preliminary divorce documents in Connecticut. But you can’t end your marriage until you do the following:
- Before filing for divorce or before the judge grants the divorce, you or your spouse resided in Connecticut for the previous 12 months.
- You or your spouse got married in Connecticut, relocated out of the state, and then came back with the intent to stay by the filing date.
- Your divorce was brought on by events that occurred after either of you moved to Connecticut (more below on the legal reasons for divorce).
Additionally, the Connecticut courts must have the legal ability to make decisions on any child custody-related problems (such as a parenting or visiting arrangement) if your divorce involves them.
The typical rule is that your minor child(ren) must have resided in the state for at least six months with a parent prior to filing for divorce in Connecticut (or since birth if a child is less than six months old). If you don’t meet the six-month criteria but have small children, you should see a family law expert to go see if you might be eligible for one of the complex exceptions to the standard.
Legal Grounds for Divorce In Connecticut
Like in every state, Connecticut requires a recognized legal justification (or “ground”) for divorce. Despite the fact that the law permits divorce based on a spouse’s fault (such as adultery or insufferable abuse), obtaining a fault-based divorce requires establishing the wrongdoing of the other party, which could also take a considerable amount of money and time.
In Connecticut, you can obtain a no-fault divorce by stating that your marriage “has broken down irreparably,” which indicates there is no realistic chance that the issues can be resolved. On this, you and your spouse should both consent.
Preparing the Initial Divorce Papers
On the Connecticut Judicial Branch’s webpage for divorce, custody, and visitation, you may discover the forms you really have to file for divorce, alongside guidelines and frequently asked questions. You must fill out these fundamental forms for the majority of divorces:
- Divorce Complaint/Cross Complaint.
- Summons Family Law Actions.
- Affidavit Concerning Children if you have children with your spouse.
The spouse who initiates the divorce process is referred to as the “plaintiff” on the paperwork. The “defendant” is the opposite spouse.
A Notice of Automatic Orders (JD-FM-158), containing information regarding the legal procedures that take effect at the start of every divorce proceeding in Connecticut, will also be included. These measures are intended to stop you each from doing any actions without the other partner’s approval that will negatively affect marital assets or children, such as selling the home or relocating the kids out of state.
Fill out and submit the Motion for Orders Before Judgment (Pendente Lite) in Family Cases if you need to request temporary court orders that will last until your divorce is final, such as orders for interim child support or temporary custody (JD-FM-176).
Whether you’re requesting a nonadversarial divorce, there are various variations and processes to follow. You and your partner will fill up and sign a Joint Petition-Nonadversarial Divorce (JD-FM-242) in place of the complaint; a summons is not required. You’ll additionally attach: together with the notice of automatic orders.
- Appearance (JD-CL-12) form for each spouse
- Financial Affidavit (JD-FM-006-LONG or JD-FM-006-SHORT) for each spouse, and
- Agreement-Nonadversarial Divorce (JD-FM-243) if you have a settlement agreement and want it included in your divorce decree.
Regardless of the kind of divorce you desire, complete the Application for Waiver of Expenses/Payment of Costs/Appointment of Counsel – Family Law if you are unable to pay the filing and other fees (described below) (JD-FM-75).
Just on the page that includes all the official state forms for family law matters maintained by the Judicial Branch, you may discover translations of the key forms in Spanish, Polish, and Portuguese. You can now get assistance through one of the Connecticut Court Service Centers if you require it to complete the forms.
Although staff members can’t provide you with professional counsel, they can make absolutely sure your documents are filled out correctly and, therefore, can answer other concerns concerning court policies.
Prior to taking the summons to court, wait until you’ve signed it. Keep an eye out for any additional paperwork that needs to be signed in the presence of a notary public or a court clerk. Since you signed them at home, you don’t want to be forced to start again.
Filing and Serving the Divorce Papers
Take the paperwork to the Superior Court Clerk’s office in the judicial district where you or your spouse reside after you have finished them. Your divorce settlement will formally begin on the “Return Date,” which you can choose with the clerk’s assistance.
It ought to be at at least four weeks ahead on a Tuesday. If you’ve applied for a fee waiver, the clerk will let you know the weather and will make a decision on the waiver that day or if you need to return for the judgment. Ask the clerk if there are any additional forms or procedures that will be required if you or your spouse have ever received state assistance.
The clerks will approve the summons and return the forms to you unless you’ve requested a nonadversarial separation. The documents may be accepted by your spouse, who will then submit a duly-signed and notarized Certification of Waiver of Service of Process (JD-FM-249). If not, you must deliver the documents to a State Marshal in the jurisdiction where your partner resides or is employed.
If you don’t have a fee waiver, you’ll need to pay a charge to have the state marshal deliver your spouse with the divorce proceedings. The marshal will create a Return of Service after serving your partner, which serves as confirmation that the papers were delivered.
You must either send or deliver the Return of Service, the original documentation, and the filing fee (typically $360 but subject to change) to the clerk’s office. The marshal should occasionally file the paperwork on your behalf. If so, you’ll need to find out how you can pay the application fee.
Ask the court clerk about alternate options for serving your partner if the marshal is unable to do so.
Next Steps in Your Connecticut Divorce
Pay much attention to the subsequent actions required to advance your case once you have filed and lodged the divorce petition.
Responding to the Divorce Papers
Following receiving the complaint and associated papers, your partner may file two or more forms unless you’ve requested a nonadversarial divorce:
- A form of appearance
- A response (JD-FM-160) in which the defendant clarifies whether or not each allegation in the complaint is true.
- A cross-complaint, which is part of the main complaint form, informs the court of the defendant’s requests for divorce that differ from those made by the plaintiff.
There isn’t any court charge for submitting an inquiry or a response because unless you seek and are granted a waiver, there is a fee for filing a cross-complaint.
The courts will consider the matter as an uncontested divorce if the adversary fails to submit either a hearing or a response.
Both of you must enroll in a parenting education course that has been authorized by the court if you and your partner have a minor kid or children. The clerk’s office will have a list of courses that have been approved by the court. Unless you have been granted a cost waiver, you must pay a charge for the program that cannot exceed $200.
If you wish to finalize your divorce well before the typical waiting time (more about that under), you may accomplish the parenting program as quickly as possible. However, you must do it at a minimum within 60 days of the Return Date.
Property Division in Connecticut
You’ll have to split your assets and obligations. You and your partner might come to an understanding and submit a property settlement to the court. If the judge must make a decision, the following parameters will be taken into account:
- How long has the marriage been
- The reasons why the marriage was dissolved.
- Age, health, station, occupation, income, sources, earning capacity, educational background, employability, estate, obligations, needs, and potential for acquiring capital assets and income in the future are all factors that must be taken into account.
- Contribution of each party to the acquisition, maintenance, or increase in the value of their particular estates.
Connecticut’s Pathways Process for Divorce In Connecticut
Connecticut launched its “Pathways” divorce procedure in 2021 with the goal of assisting couples in settling their legal disputes while proceeding to trial. You will be assigned a “Resolution Plan Date” at least 90 days following the Return Date when you file your separation lawsuit.
You and your partner should visit with a Family Relations Counselor to consider your case together unless you’ve already come to an agreement and obtained a waiver of the 90-day waiting period (described above).
It might well be possible to get a court trial that same day to finalize your separation if you and your partner completely agree at this session. If not, you’ll be given a procedure to follow for a particular situation.
You must be a resident of Connecticut and have a valid reason for terminating your marriage in order to petition for divorce (also known as “dissolution of marriage”).
In order to file for divorce in Connecticut, you must pay a $350 filing fee, $50 for service of process, and, if you have children, an additional $125 for a required parenting education course.
In about 35 days, divorce can be obtained without the need for a court appearance. A court date will be given to both your partner and you. On that day, the magistrate must have seen both yourself and your spouse.
Connecticut doesn’t follow a straightforward 50/50 divide. Instead, state law gives the courts discretion to divide the assets in a way that they judge “fair.” It’s crucial to remember that the definition of “property” is broad.
In Connecticut, there is no such thing as a “common law marriage” or “common law separation.” Regardless of how long you and your partner live apart, unless a formal judicial procedure is followed, you are not considered separate.