Family Law FAQs
Connecticut is considered a “no-fault” divorce state, meaning that you do not have to prove that the other party did something wrong to cause you to want to get a divorce. Instead, you state that your marriage has “broken down irretrievably” and request that the court dissolve your marriage.
2. How Long Do Divorce Proceedings Take?
How long the divorce proceedings in Connecticut take largely depends on whether you and your spouse are able to come to an agreement on all major issues involved in your divorce, such as property division, a parenting plan and support matters. After filing a petition for divorce, the court assigns a return date. There is a mandatory 90-day waiting period in most cases. Then, a case management date will be assigned. If you and your spouse reach an agreement during this time, you can get divorced on your case management date. If you are unable to reach an agreement, your case will take longer and one or more hearings will be scheduled to resolve the issues involved in your case. Connecticut courts generally aim for a divorce to be finalized within one year from the date you filed for divorce whether through an agreement or a trial. However, there are some circumstances when the process may take longer. Connecticut also passed a law that became effective on October 1, 2015 that allows for two ways to expedite your divorce. If you and your spouse reach an agreement, you can waive the 90-day waiting period and get divorced before 90 days have elapsed. You both must appear in court to use this process. The other way to avoid the 90-day waiting period is to file a joint petition for a non-adversarial divorce. This process is only available if you meet certain conditions, such as not having any real estate or children together. For this process, you can have your divorce finalized within 30 days of filing the joint petition.
3. What Is the Difference Between Legal Separation and Divorce?
Legal separation and divorce have several similarities. Both can result in a division of property and debts, a parenting plan and support orders. However, the key difference is that the couple is still legally married. Neither spouse can remarry while they are legally separated. The process to obtain a legal separation is similar to that for obtaining a divorce. If the couple decides after the legal separation order is put in place to divorce, the court can convert the separation order into an order for divorce. If you are considering legal separation or divorce and don’t know which option is best for you, our experienced family law attorneys can discuss this further with you.
4. Do I Have to Go to Court?
You must attend court on the date indicated by the Case Management Agreement form. If your case is uncontested, your final hearing date will be brief. Your lawyer will submit the agreement that you and your spouse entered into for the court’s approval and incorporation into the final divorce decree. If you were served with the divorce papers and the case is uncontested, you might not have to appear in court. If your case is contested, you will have to go to court and present evidence of your position regarding the subjects that are still at issue in your divorce.
5. How Does Property Division Work in Connecticut?
Connecticut is an equitable distribution state. The parties can enter into an agreement regarding how to divide this property. If they cannot reach an agreement, the court will make a determination on how to fairly, but not necessarily equally, divide the couple’s property. The court considers several factors when determining how to divide property, such as:
- The length of the marriage
- The reasons for the end of the marriage
- The age and health of each spouse
- The separate property of each spouse
- The contribution each spouse made to acquiring, maintaining and appreciating the value of the property
- The income, occupation and employability of each spouse
Connecticut uses the “income shares” model to determine child support, which requires both parents to contribute the same proportion of their income toward the support of their children. The parents’ income is added together and then compared with a chart to determine how much support the children should receive based on this income. The obligation is divided proportionally between the parents based on their percentage of the income. If the parents’ combined weekly income exceeds $2,500, the guidelines might not apply to all of the income. Additionally, there are times when the court can deviate from the guidelines; such as if a parent pays childcare costs or the child has special needs.
7. I Moved to Connecticut for a Fresh Start, but My Marriage Just Didn’t Get Better. Do I Need to Go Back to My Old State to Divorce?
No. Connecticut law requires that at least one spouse have lived in Connecticut continuously for at least one year before a final judgment is made in a divorce case. Therefore, many people simply decide to wait out the residency requirement rather than go back to their old state. Having a local court order that is enforceable in Connecticut and family court orders regarding your children is better than having these orders in another state where you no longer live. You can file for divorce well before the one-year mark and a strategic family law lawyer can ensure that the judgment is entered into after the one-year requirement.
8. I Moved to Connecticut for a Fresh Start, but My Marriage Just Didn’t Get Better. Do I Need to Go Back to My Old State to Divorce?
A Connecticut family court can make temporary orders while the divorce case is pending. This includes temporary orders for child support and spousal support. These orders can also be modified throughout the divorce process if the financial situations of the spouses dramatically change while the case is pending.
9. I Made a Lot Of Money in the Past, but, in This Economy, I Can’t Pay in Alimony Anywhere Near What I Could Have Three Years Ago—Will the Court Understand What Happened to Me?
When the court is petitioned to award alimony to a spouse, it considers many factors to make this determination, including:
- The length of the marriage
- The reason for the breakdown of the marriage
- The age and health of each spouse
- The economic needs of each spouse
- The occupation and future earning capacity of each spouse
- How the marital property and debts were divided
Therefore, the court will consider your current situation, as well as your previous situation when determining whether to award alimony and in what amount.