Divorce is not an easy process, but Connecticut has taken some steps to make sure it is not overly complicated by creating easier processes for less complicated cases. Here are some of the basics to know if you are considering to file for divorce in Connecticut.
Connecticut generally requires 12 months of residency by at least one spouse before a divorce can be granted. That can sometimes be shortened if the couple came to the state before deciding to get divorced.
Grounds for divorce
A divorce, called a “decree of dissolution of a marriage” in Connecticut, can be granted for numerous reasons. Connecticut still has all the old “fault” grounds for divorce, including adultery, desertion, cruelty, and imprisonment. Until recent decades, a couple seeking a divorce would have had to prove one of the spouses did something wrong. Couples would often fake an affair if they wanted to split up.
Most divorces today are granted for “no-fault reasons, which in Connecticut is called having the marriage break down “irretrievably.”
There is also a no-fault ground for couples being separated for 18 months without a reasonable prospect of being reconciled, but most couples will have no reason to wait 18 months.
Court process – To fight or not
Connecticut has a special process called a “nonadversarial divorce” for couples with minimal issues to get their divorce in just over a month without ever going to court. The couple must –
(1) Have been married nine years or less
(2) Not have children from the marriage or be pregnant
(3) Not own a home or other real estate
(4) Have less than $80,000 in assets and no pension
(5) Not have restraining orders on each other
The truth is that most people getting divorced have little in the way of assets and this process allows the couple to file a joint petition along with information on the spouses’ financial situation. If the couple has a settlement agreement, and they should to get a speedy divorce, they can include that settlement agreement along with the petition. The judge can grant the petition in as little as 35 days.
Parties that can work out an agreement but are not eligible for the nonadvarsarial process can still pursue a “simplified” process. This requires you to come to an agreement on custody, child care costs and support payments if necessary, division of property, alimony, a division of debts, and name changes. Connecticut law imposes a 90-day waiting period before a divorce can be granted, but if you have an agreement on all these issues you can file a motion asking the court to waive the waiting period and the divorce can be granted as quickly as the court’s workload allows.
If you cannot work out an agreement, then you will have to follow the traditional divorce process. This looks very much like any other civil case. To file a divorce in Connecticut you have to prepare a petition for divorce and then make sure your spouse receives it. This can be done by mail, or you may need a State Marshall to deliver it to it personally. If your spouse does not respond after 30 days you can ask for the divorce to be awarded immediately. You can also use the 90-day process to come to an agreement. If that does not work the issues will be resolved at a hearing.