Filing for Divorce in Connecticut
Getting a Divorce in Connecticut? Divorce Law Cheat Sheet for the State of Connecticut
1. What are the residency requirements for filing for divorce in Connecticut?
To file for a divorce in Connecticut, your or your spouse lived in Connecticut for at least one year before filing for divorce, unless:
- One of you lived in Connecticut at the time of the marriage, moved away, and thenreturned to the stateto live permanently before filing for divorce the marriage broke down after you.
- Or your spouse moved to Connecticut.
- If you are in the military and stationed outside of Connecticut, but lived in Connecticut at the time of your enlistment , then your time outside the state will count toward your residency requirement.
Connecticut General Statutes Sec. 27-103
2. Does Connecticut have a waiting period?
You must wait a minimum of 90 days after the return date on the complaint for the Court to enter a judgment.
3. Do I have to prove to the Court what caused the marriage to break down?
No, in Connecticut there is no-fault divorce. This means the court will grant your divorce without proving who caused the breakdown. Fault can be used by the court to formulate alimony orders and property division.If you do not seek a no-fault divorce, you will have to prove fault. Grounds for divorce in which one of you must be found at fault include:
- Your spouse committed adultery “ had an affair.
- There was something fraudulent about your marriage.
- Your spouse has deserted you and been gone for more than a year.
- You haven’t seen or heard from your spouse in seven years.
- Your spouse is habitually drunk.
- Your spouse is intolerably cruel.
- Your spouse has been sentenced to prison for life or committed a crime that violates your “conjugal” relationship and lands him or her in jail for more than a year.
- Your spouse has been legally confined to a hospital or institution for mental illness for a total of five of the past six years.
The Court willl grant your no-fault divorce if you can tell the Judge three things:
- Your marriage has broken down irretrievably
- You and your spouse have reached an agreement that addresses the custody, care, education, visitation and support of your children (if any), as well as alimony and a fair division of your property and debts,
- You voluntarily entered the agreement, you understand its terms and the agreement seems fair to the court.
4. How does Connecticut determine the division of property?
You and your spouse are encouraged to come up with a settlement on your own and present it to the court. If you can’t agree, the court will divide your property for you. In Connecticut, the court has the power to assign to either spouse all or any part of the estate of the other. Depending on the circumstances, the court can give your property to you or your spouse. For example, the court can order your house be sold and the proceeds divided among the parties. Or, the court can award the entire house to either party.
To decide all of this, the court will consider:
- How long you were married.
- The cause of your divorce.
- You and your spouse’s ages and health.
- You and your spouse’s occupations, incomes and sources of income.
- You and your spouse’s skills and employability.
- You and your spouse’s assets, debts and needs.
- You and your spouse’s opportunities to earn future income
- You and your spouse’s individual contributions toward the acquisition or appreciation in the value of your property.
- You and your spouse’s lifestyles.
5. Does Connecticut require mediation before a divorce is granted?
Mediation is not a requirement in Connecticut, though it may be ordered by the Court to address property, financial, child custody and visitation issues.
6. How does the state determine child custody?
Legal custody and physical custody are two different things. Legal custody outlines how involved each parent is in the major decisions of a child’s life “ where a child goes to school, what faith he or she is raised in and other significant matters.Physical custody addresses where a child will live and with whom. Visitation is then determined based on the child’s best interests.
The court requiresa parenting responsibility plan be drawn by you and your spouse. This plan helps the parties focus on the children rather than the divorce. Items contained in the plan include:
- Physical residential custody.
- Decision making for the children’s health.
- Education and religious upbringing.
- ow to mediate future disputes and other critical items.
If you and your spouse are unable to decide what is in the best interests of your child, the court will evaluate:
- Your child’s personality and developmental needs.
- You and your spouse’s ability to understand and meet your child’s needs.
- Your child’s preferences you and your spouse’s wishes.
- Your child’s past and current relationships with you and your spouse, his or her siblings and any other significant people in his or her life.
- You and your spouse’s willingness and abilities to encourage an ongoing relationship between your child and your spouse.
- Any manipulation or coercive behavior by you or your spouse in an effort to involve your child in your dispute.
- You and your spouse’s abilities to be actively involved in your child’s life.
- Your child’s adjustment to his or her home, school and community.
- How long your child has lived in a stable environment and whether it’s best to maintain the situation.
- How stable your child’s current or future residence would be.
- The mental and physical health of everyone involved (though a disability alone is not necessarily a deciding factor).
- Your child’s cultural background.
- The effect on your child if any domestic violence has occurred between you and your spouse, you and your child, your spouse and your child, or you, your spouse and any other individual.
- Whether your child or his or her siblings have been abused or neglected.
- Whether you or your spouse has completed a parenting education program.
If you and your spouse can’t resolve the issues relating to the custody, care, education and upbringing of your child, you will have to file a proposed parental responsibility plan that addresses:
- Where your child will live during the year.
- Who will have decision-making authority regarding your child’s health, education and religious upbringing or how it will be shared.
- How you will solve future disagreements.
- Hhat you will do when one parent does not honor his or her responsibilities in the plan.
- Ways you will deal with your child’s changing needs as he or she gets older ways to minimize your child’s exposure to conflict between you and your spouse.
If you and your spouse can agree on a plan that does all of the above and the court thinksit’s in the best interest of your child, the Court will approve the plan.You and your spouse must attend a parenting education program that talks about the effects of divorce on your child, including information on the developmental stages of children, how children adjust to separation, solving and managing conflicts, guidelines for visitation, how to reduce stress in children and cooperative parenting.
7. How does the state calculate child support?
Spouses have a joint duty to support the family and their children. The state uses Connecticut’s Child Support and Arrearage Guidelines to calculate support. In most cases these guidelines are used by the court to calculate a child’s support. For example: a family with two children and a joint net income of $2,000 per week will have a shared child support obligation of $423 per week.The court can also consider deviations from child support amounts based on unique family circumstances or a child’s specific needs.
In determining what support your child might need and which of you will provide it, the court takes these factors into account:
- You and your spouse’s ages and health.
- You and your spouse’s occupations, earning capacities, your income and sources of income.
- You and your spouse’s skills and employability.
- Your child’s age and health.
- Your child’s occupation (if any), educational status and educational expectations.
- Your child’s sources of income (if any) and how much your child’s talents, hobbies, skills, employability and needs.
The court will include health care coverage for your child in your support order and unreimbursed medical and dental expenses. It may include a provision for child care expenses, if appropriate. Either parent may make a motion asking the court to order educational support for a child to attend an institution of higher education or a private occupational school for up to four academic years or until the child attains 23 years of age, whichever is sooner.
If the parties make the request for educational support but no specific educational support order is entered at the time of your divorce the court will retain the power to enter an order later when the child reaches college-age.If the parties forget to request educational support and the divorce enters without the request on the record the court will have no power to order educational support later on.
When fashioning an educational support order the court will consider:
- You and your spouse’s incomes, assets, debts and obligations to other dependents.
- Your child’s need for support to attend college, based on his or her own assets and ability to earn an income.
- What kind of financial aid might be available.
- Whether your child’s academic record and your financial resources make it reasonable for your child to expect to attend college.
- Whether your child has prepared for college, has an aptitude for it and is committed to it what school your child might attend.
To qualify for payments in an educational support order, your child must: enroll in an accredited institution of higher education or private occupational school take classes toward his or her major and maintain at least a half-time course load stay in good academic standing with his or her school give you and your spouse all of his or her academic records Any time your child fails to follow through on the above, the education support order is suspended.
An educational support order may include support for room, board, dues, tuition, fees, registration and application costs, as long as those costs don’t exceed the amount charged by the University of Connecticut for a full-time in-state student (unless you and your spouse agree that it can be more). An educational support order also may include the cost of books and medical insurance for your child.
8. How does the state determine and calculate alimony?
Alimony is not automatically ordered in every divorce case. Depending on certain circumstances, the Court may order one of you to pay alimony to the other. In determining whether alimony will be awarded and, if so, how much and for how long, the Court will consider: how long you were married the cause of your divorce you and your spouse’s ages and health you and your spouse’s occupations, incomes and sources of income you and your spouse’s skills and employability you and your spouse’s needs if one of you is caring for your child, whether it is best for that parent to seek employment
9. Is there a waiting period before remarriage in Connecticut?
No, you are free to remarry after the court delivers the final judgment ending your marriage.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
The Connecticut state statutes can be found online at www.cga.ct.gov/2007/pub/Chap815j.htm#Sec46b-44.htm
The state has posted forms relating to divorce online at www.jud2.state.ct.us/webforms/
The state has posted publications relating to divorce online at www.jud.ct.gov/pub.htm#Family
You also can find helpful answers from the state on many issues at www.jud.ct.gov/selfhelp.htm