Your Complete Guide to Getting a Divorce in Connecticut

by Lauren Cook-McKay | Last Updated: October 9, 2021

Divorce Laws | Residency Requirements | Grounds for Divorce | Divorce Attorney | Filing for Divorce | Online Divorce | How Long? | Divorce Costs | Custody | Child Support | Alimony | Division of Asset | Common-Law Marriage | Alternatives

 

A divorce is a monumental life change, and the process can seem intimidating without the correct information.

On top of that, laws change frequently. It would be wise for potential divorcees to review changes to Connecticut divorce laws before beginning the divorce process. For instance, in January of 2021, a new step was added to the divorce process to consolidate court dates and improve divorce case efficiency: The Resolution Plan Date.

This article is an excellent resource for potential divorcees in Connecticut. Read on to explore laws, available resources, and options to consider throughout your divorce process.

picture of falling leaves symbolizing divorce in connecticut

Types of Divorce Laws in Connecticut

Typically there are 2 different types of divorce, either uncontested or contested. An uncontested divorce is when couples agree on the terms of the divorce and don't need the courts to help out, they just need the courts to finalize the agreed upon terms. Contrary to that is a contested divorce, which is much more complicated and possibly contentious.

In Connecticut, there are three types of divorce proceedings:

  1. Nonadversarial Simplified Divorce (uncontested)
  2. Divorce With an Agreement (uncontested)
  3. Divorce Without an Agreement (contested)

Each type of divorce is stipulated by the State of Connecticut Judicial Branch, and all three options are available to divorcing couples depending on their eligibility (which we’ll explore in detail in the following three sections).

A Divorce Without an Agreement is the most time-consuming option. During this type of divorce proceeding, the two parties (both spouses) aren’t in agreement about one or more of the terms of the divorce, like child support, alimony, custody, or division of assets. This kind of divorce requires at least one court appearance by both parties, and it’s recommended that parties engage legal counsel.

A Nonadversarial Simplified Divorce, on the other hand, is the quickest, most economical option. Spouses must meet certain requirements to be eligible for such a divorce (most importantly, not having any children), but the most attractive element of a Nonadversarial Divorce is that spouses aren’t required to appear in court.

A Divorce With an Agreement is a median option for couples who agree to all terms of their divorce but don’t meet the requirements for a Nonadversarial Divorce proceeding. While spouses must still appear in court, they have the option to waive the 90-day waiting period for divorces in Connecticut.

The latter two options are ideal for potential divorcees. It behooves couples to agree to the terms of their divorce as early in the process as possible. Certain actions can be taken by the couple before filing for divorce to expedite the process, reduce costs of divorce, and decrease emotional distress.

After asking your spouse for a divorce, let things settle and then set a date and time to go over a preliminary divorce agreement. It may take many “informal” sessions with your spouse to work out all of the details, but if you and your spouse are on speaking terms, this is time well spent outside of court.

If, at any point, your spouse becomes emotional, angry, or in obstinate disagreement during this informal negotiation, seek legal counsel and prepare to proceed with a Divorce Without an Agreement if this pattern continues.

Remember that this is not a personal failure on your part: While doing your due diligence before court proceedings begin can benefit both couples financially and emotionally, family and marital law judges exist for a reason, and relying upon their expertise to settle your divorce is not a sign of weakness.

Nonadversarial Simplified Divorce (Uncontested)

For couples seeking an amicable divorce, where they agree to all elements of the divorce agreement (alimony and division of assets) at the time divorce paperwork is filed, couples may file for a Nonadversarial Divorce.

However, to qualify for a Nonadversarial Divorce, couples must meet the following criteria:

While this list of requirements seems long, it keeps divorcing couples from oversimplifying a potentially complicated divorce to save time or money.

If couples opt for a Nonadversarial Divorce at first, but after the divorce is filed seek to change the divorce agreement, that only results in wasted time for the court, since issues should have been resolved during traditional divorce proceedings.

Plus, if couples file and settle a Nonadversarial Divorce to save money, but then contest any part of their divorce agreement after the divorce is settled, they’ll essentially double their court costs. The requirements of Nonadversarial Divorces protect both the court and divorcing couple from overspending.

One of the most significant benefits of a Nonadversarial Divorce is that a court appearance in front of a judge may not be required to finalize the divorce. But, at least one visit to a courthouse to file paperwork will still be required.

Required forms include:

Once these forms are filed with the Clerk’s Office, the divorce may be granted within 35 days of the filing date without the need to see a judge.

However, if anything on a couple’s documents indicates an unresolved dispute or that the couple doesn’t meet the requirements for a Nonadversarial Divorce, a court date may be scheduled. Check your documents carefully before filing.

Divorce With an Agreement (Uncontested)

For divorcing couples that don’t meet the requirements to file for a Nonadversarial Divorce, Divorce With an Agreement is another excellent option if you and your spouse agree on all divorce issues before filing paperwork with the court.

Most importantly, potential divorcees who want to expedite the divorce process can file a waiver for the 90-day waiting period, achieving the same potential turnaround time as Nonadversarial Divorce filings.

While spouses will still have to file the same forms as Divorces Without an Agreement (more on that later), there are a few critical differences in the procedure:

If at any point during a Divorce Without an Agreement the divorcing spouses agree to the divorce arrangement before the 90-day waiting period has elapsed, the couple can file the Motion to Waive Statutory Time Period by Agreement of the Parties form and finalize their divorce on a shorter timeline.

If you and your spouse decide to do either an “Nonadversarial Simplified Divorce” or a “Divorce With an Agreement” uncontested divorce, you’re on your way to getting a divorced fast and with much lower costs.

Pros & Cons of Uncontested Divorce

Pros
  • Uncontested divorces save you time and money
  • Drama free way to end the marriage
  • These divorces tend to process quicker
  • You can avoid taking the divorce to trial
Cons
  • Requires the ability to navigate the divorce process
  • If domestic violence is involved, a contested divorce is safer
  • Neither spouse can demand additional spousal support or child support unless the other agrees.
  • Both spouses give up the right to appeal the terms of the divorce in the future.
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Divorce Without an Agreement (Contested)

To proceed with a Divorce Without an Agreement, plaintiffs and defendants must

If you’re the defendant in a divorce case, you’re required to participate in your divorce proceedings even if you agree with the items stated in the divorce complaint.

Defendants/respondents can file three potential forms (not all are required):

An Appearance form is filed either by the defendant's legal counsel or the defendant (if they’re representing themself in the divorce proceedings). An Appearance form communicates your intent to participate in the divorce to the court and provides the court with your mailing address where you’ll receive notices and paperwork files throughout your case.

If the defendant doesn’t file an appearance form within 30 days of the Return Date (more on the return date later), the divorce could proceed (and settle) without them.

An Answer form allows defendants to comment on the items in the plaintiff’s divorce complaint. The defendant lists each issue presented by the plaintiff, and checks one of three boxes regarding each issue:

While an Answer form isn’t required during the divorce proceedings, it’s highly recommended that defendants in a Divorce Without an Agreement file one to document their initial disagreements with the divorce complaint. In a potentially messy divorce, any documentation you can provide to the court can be helpful throughout your case.

A Cross Complaint form is essentially the same document as the plaintiff’s divorce complaint. You can list your own reason for filing for a divorce, stipulate your own desires for the divorce agreement, and request that the court continues with the case even if the plaintiff decides to stop or withdraw their complaint.

If you’re the defendant in a divorce case, and you want to get a divorce whether or not your spouse decides to complete the proceedings, it’s integral that you file a Cross Complaint.

Divorces Without an Agreement are provided with a Resolution Plan Date, where a Family Relations Counselor (a qualified and educated court staff member) helps divorcing couples create an action plan for their divorce proceedings.

Action items could include mediation, parenting education courses (if there are minor children involved in your case), or the assignment of a Family Relations Counselor for the duration of the case.

Action items will correspond to dates and deadlines recommended by the Family Relations Counselor and stipulated by the court. If at any point during your divorce proceedings you and your spouse have agreed to the divorce arrangement, you can ask to see a judge to finalize your case and conclude the action plan early.

But, if spouses haven’t agreed despite the action plan before the end of the 90-day waiting period, divorce litigation begins.

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • You can fight for what you feel you deserve
  • If you and your spouse can not get along, this will help move through the process with 3rd parties
Cons
  • You may have to go to trial
  • These types of divorce tend to take much longer
  • It's more expensive than uncontested or simplified divorces
  • Typically more stressful
Key Takeaways

There are three distinct options for divorce proceedings in Connecticut:

  1. Nonadversarial Simplified Divorce (uncontested)
  2. Divorce With an Agreement (uncontested)
  3. Divorce Without an Agreement (contested)

The first two options present couples with the opportunity to reduce the time and money spent on the divorce proceedings, but they must agree to the divorce arrangement before filing their paperwork.

Nonadversarial Divorces (which usually do not require a court appearance or a Resolution Plan Date) have very specific requirements for the protection of both divorcing couples and court staff.

Before determining which route they’d like to take, divorcing couples should check that they’ve filed all of the appropriate paperwork correctly. If you don’t know which divorce route is right for you, take the State of Connecticut Judicial Branch divorce quiz, which will recommend a possible course of action.

Residency Requirements in Connecticut

To file for a divorce in Connecticut, divorcing couples must meet the following residency requirements:

Proof of residency is typically not requested in a divorce proceeding, but divorcing couples are discouraged from knowingly filing divorce papers in Connecticut if they don’t meet the residency requirements, as this would be a waste of time and money.

But, if the parties are asked to prove residency, they can provide any of the following documents:

There are three distinct options for divorce proceedings in Connecticut:

  1. Nonadversarial Simplified Divorce (uncontested)
  2. Divorce With an Agreement (uncontested)
  3. Divorce Without an Agreement (contested)
Key Takeaways

Proving residency in Connecticut is relatively simple if the spouses are asked to do so. Before a divorce can be finalized, spouses must attest that they meet the residency eligibility requirements, which are:

  • Having been a Connecticut resident for 12 months or more
  • Having been married in Connecticut, moving away, and moving back permanently
  • Experiencing a marital collapse while at least one spouse is living in the state

Grounds for Divorce in Connecticut

The Divorce Complaint (Dissolution of Marriage) form, which must be filed to initiate divorce proceedings, requests the plaintiff to specify why divorce is being sought. Spouses have two options:

  1. “This marriage has broken down irretrievably.”
  2. “Other”

If spouses choose “Other,” they must fill in their grounds for divorce in lines provided below the prompt. Their reasons must be listed in the Connecticut General Statutes, which detail a variety of grounds for divorce in the state.

According to Section 46b-40 of the state statutes, divorces may be filed as a result of one of the following:

Keep in mind that any grounds listed on divorce complaint forms will have to be admitted as true by the defendant or proven valid during court proceedings.

So, if plaintiffs can file for divorce on multiple grounds, they should list the justification to which

If the plaintiff expects that the defendant will deny the grounds listed on the divorce complaint for any reason, they should retain legal counsel. If the grounds for divorce must be proven in court proceedings, the plaintiff will achieve the best possible outcome by seeking help from a professional.

Key Takeaways

Plaintiffs or couples can list a variety of causes for divorce on their Divorce Complaint form filed with the Clerk’s Office. But, it’s important to remember that any justifications for divorce could be subject to investigation and proof in court if the defendant denies them.

Plaintiffs are cautioned to list grounds for which they have sufficient evidence or to which they’re confident that the defendant will agree. Plaintiffs who aren’t confident that their spouse will agree to any grounds should seek legal counsel.

Using a Connecticut Divorce Attorney

Connecticut does not require divorcing couples (plaintiffs or defendants) to retain divorce attorneys to represent them during any part of the divorce process.

While retaining legal counsel may not be necessary if couples are filing for divorce, spouses are strongly encouraged to hire an attorney if they expect their divorce to be messy in any way or if they need professional assistance guiding them through the process.

Attorneys can advocate for you and your needs during divorce proceedings, they have existing relationships with judges and other court staff, and they have the professional experience to complete your paperwork accurately and perform all necessary procedures correctly.

Consulting an attorney is never a bad idea, even if you don’t predict that you’ll need to protect yourself during the divorce process.

What Makes a Good Divorce Attorney?

Finding a good divorce attorney is key, but what makes a good divorce attorney? While you should set your own list of non-negotiables when searching for an attorney, you should also consider the following criteria:

How to Find a Good Divorce Attorney

There are a variety of methods you can use to find a divorce attorney, but some popular tactics include:

Narrow your shortlist down to three or four names and interview each prospective attorney during an initial consultation. Remember, you’re in charge of which attorney you decide to hire to represent you in your divorce.

Interview Questions for Divorce Attorneys

When you request an initial consultation with a potential divorce attorney, you shouldn’t just give them the details of your case. You should ask them questions to determine whether or not they’re a good fit for you.

Here are some potential interview questions for your consultation with a divorce lawyer:

In all likelihood, attorneys will be forthcoming with answers to your questions. After all, they want you to hire them. Be wary of attorneys who dodge questions or who don’t provide answers that satisfy you. If you’re not satisfied with their performance during the initial consultation, you’re probably not a compatible client for them either.

Is Initial Consultation Free?

In most cases, initial consultations with attorneys are free. It’s common for plaintiffs and defendants to “shop around” for representation – especially in divorce cases – and lawyers know this.

Since the industry standard is to supply free consultations, most attorneys want to adhere to that industry standard. But, some attorneys may still charge a consultation fee. If you’re considering an attorney that charges such a fee, consider interviewing them last so that you can cancel the consultation if you find a good fit elsewhere.

Is the Meeting Confidential?

Initial consultations are always confidential. However, you also want to make sure they keep a secure and confidential office that takes client privacy seriously.

Before you begin speaking about your case, confirm with your attorney that all matters discussed will be kept confidential. Ask them outright how their firm prioritizes and maintains client confidentiality, and if you’re not confident in their response, you’re never going to be comfortable sharing private information in their office.

Attorneys making a significant effort to maintain client confidentiality will have systems in place like:

If you’re uncomfortable with any attorney’s confidentiality efforts (or lack thereof), you’ll remain that way throughout their service of your case. Identify discomfort early, trust your gut, and choose an attorney who meets your needs.

Pros of Using an Attorney

Using an attorney can afford both plaintiffs and defendants in divorce cases additional help and support throughout their case.

Some other benefits of using an attorney include:

Cons of Using an Attorney

While an attorney is never a bad idea, consulting an attorney can result in unintended consequences. Some drawbacks of seeking legal counsel include:

But, if you’re confident that you need an attorney, these drawbacks likely won’t deter you. Make efforts to prevent them by seeking legal aid assistance, encouraging your spouse to retain legal counsel if you are, and making efforts to communicate effectively.

Key Takeaways

Good divorce attorneys can be a vital asset to your success in a divorce case, and they help ensure the best possible outcomes. You may not need a divorce attorney if you and your spouse are filing for a Nonadversarial Divorce or a Divorce With an Agreement or if you choose to represent yourself in a Divorce Without an Agreement, but a safety net is never a bad idea.

Filing for Divorce in Connecticut

As far as the actual filing process, it’s integral that divorcing couples (plaintiffs and defendants alike) are familiar with court procedures for divorces throughout their case. The steps below will help you prepare your divorce forms, file your divorce forms, serve them to your spouse, and prepare your financial disclosures.

The process is pretty simple, but the sheer amount of paperwork can seem exhausting. This guide is here to help, but consider retaining legal counsel to ensure efficient and compliant filing.

Importantly, upon filing any initial paperwork, file an Application for Waiver of Fees/Appointment of Counsel Family form if you cannot afford any of the fees associated with the divorce process. Court staff will confirm your eligibility to waive filing and service fees throughout the divorce process.

Pro Tip: The information below is perfect for you to get an overview of the divorce filing process and also use as a guide if you will be filing for divorce on your own. However, if you are using an attorney, their team will typically be taking care of these steps as part of their proper representation of you as a client.

Preparing Your Divorce Forms

Before preparing your divorce forms, consider some “if, then” statements to prepare the correct forms. We’ll explore the most complex possibility first: Divorces Without an Agreement.

If You’re Filing for a Divorce Without an Agreement and You Don’t Have Minor Children

Then, the plaintiff or their attorney should prepare the following forms:

Don’t sign your summons until you’re in the presence of a Clerk’s Office employee. A Clerk will also sign the paperwork, and return it to you for service to your spouse (more on that later).

After your spouse has signed the paperwork and a State Marshall has returned it to you after service, return the original signed forms to the Clerk’s Office with proof of service from the State Marshall and pay any applicable filing fees (or submit an approved fee waiver).

Your case will be assigned a Resolution Plan Date, where you and your spouse will learn more about the current divorce process requirements and discuss your areas of disagreement. Before your Resolution Plan Date, you and your spouse should prepare separate Financial Affidavit forms.

If you’re still in disagreement at the end of the Resolution Plan Date, a Family Relations Counselor will assign a Case Date. During your Case Date, if you and your spouse have reached an agreement, a judge may be able to finalize your divorce on that day. If you haven’t reached an agreement by your Case Date, a Pretrial Settlement Conference will be scheduled about 30 days after your Case Date. If you’re not in agreement at the Pretrial Settlement Conference, the Trial Date (potentially the first of many) will be scheduled about 30 days after the Pretrial Settlement Conference.

At the end of the trial, both parties will sign a Dissolution Agreement.

If You’re Filing for a Divorce Without an Agreement and You Have Minor Children

Then the plaintiff or their attorney should prepare the same forms as the Divorce Without an Agreement scenario above and an additional form: the Affidavit Concerning Children. They should initially file, serve, and complete filing in the same fashion as the scenario above.

In addition, divorcing couples with children will need to participate in a parenting education program within 60 days after filing for a divorce. Parents should consult the List of Approved Programs and prepare a Parenting Education Program Order, Certificate and Results form to be submitted upon completion.

Divorces Without an Agreement involving minor children will proceed through the Resolution Plan Date, Case Date, Pretrial Settlement Conference, and Trial in the same fashion as cases without children (explained in the above section).

If You’re Filing for Divorce With an Agreement and You Don’t Have Minor Children

Then, the couple or their attorney(s) should prepare the following forms:

After filing these forms and signing them in the presence of a Clerk’s Office employee, the couple will pay the fees associated with filing (or submit a fee waiver).

Couples will still be scheduled for a Resolution Plan Date, but since they’ll already agree on this date, a judge can potentially finalize their marriage on the same day.

But, if couples in agreement are looking to expedite the process, they can file a Motion to Waive Statutory Time Period by Agreement of the Parties – Divorce or Legal Separation form to bypass the 90-day waiting period.

If You’re Filing for a Divorce With an Agreement and You Have Minor Children

Then, both spouses or their attorney(s) should prepare the same forms as the above Divorce With an Agreement scenario, along with the following forms:

Like cases of Divorce Without an Agreement involving minor children, both spouses must participate in a Parenting Education Program within 60 days of filing for divorce. Spouses must participate in an approved program and submit a Parenting Education Program Order, Certificate and Results form upon completion of the course.

A Resolution Plan Date will be set, at which point (if the couple is still in agreement) their case may be finalized by a judge on that day. As in cases without children, couples can file a Motion to Waive Statutory Time Period by Agreement of the Parties – Divorce or Legal Separation form to request a bypass of the 90-day waiting period.

If You’re Filing for a Nonadversarial (Simplified) Divorce

Then the couple or their attorney(s) should prepare the following forms:

Divorces may be granted in as few as 35 days without the need for a court appearance. Just remember that couples with children (minor or otherwise) are not eligible for this option.

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Filing Your Divorce Forms

It’s just as important to file your divorce forms correctly as it is to complete them correctly.

For Divorces Without an Agreement, two filing actions must be taken: The initial filing of your divorce papers, where you’ll sign the forms in front of a Clerk’s Office employee (and, if applicable, file a fee waiver for both filing and service by a State Marshall), and the final filing of your divorce papers, where you’ll:

For Nonadversarial Divorces and Divorces With an Agreement, only one filing date is required, and both spouses should be present at the Clerk’s Office to sign their paperwork in the presence of a Clerk’s Office employee.

Serving Your Spouse

In Divorces With an Agreement (with or without minor children), one spouse (the defendant) will file a Certification of Waiver of Service of Process to waive the service of process requirement. State Marshals will not need to be contracted or paid, and no proof of service is required to file.

However, for Divorces Without an Agreement, plaintiffs will need to contract the services of a State Marshal to serve their spouse (the defendant) with divorce papers. Plaintiffs can find a list of Marshals in the State of Connecticut’s Directory.

Connecticut State Marshals providing service of process for complaints (such as a divorce complaint) may charge up to $1.00 per page (not to exceed $900.00 total) and any reasonable additional charges for travel or services performed. But, plaintiffs can furnish an approved fee waiver to bypass any fees for serving their spouse.

Connecticut requires service of process to be completed by a State Marshal for the safety of the plaintiff. While some states allow plaintiffs to serve their spouses’ divorce papers (with an option to hire a Sheriff to service process), Connecticut only allows plaintiffs to accompany State Marshals during their service of the defendant. Plaintiffs are not required to accompany State Marshals, but they may.

Upon service, the Marshal will take payment (if it hasn’t been waived by the court) and provide plaintiffs with a proof of service confirmation and the signed papers. Plaintiffs will file both and a filing fee (or a fee waiver) to officially file for divorce.

Financial Disclosures

For Nonadversarial Divorces and Divorces With an Agreement, divorcing couples will file their Financial Affidavits (one for each spouse) with the rest of their divorce papers.

However, for Divorces Without an Agreement, each spouse will prepare and sign both a Long Financial Affidavit and a Short Financial Affidavit.

These affidavits require spouses to provide information about their:

The affidavits are reviewed by the judge to ensure that, if spousal support (also called alimony) is ordered, the spouse receiving support is being compensated fairly and the spouse-provided support is being assessed fairly.

Key Takeaways

Preparing, filing, and serving your divorce forms and submitting affidavits can seem intimidating at first. Potential divorcees are encouraged to retain an attorney if they need help with the filing process or if they need legal advice or support during a complicated divorce.

Online Divorce in Connecticut

The State of Connecticut Judicial Branch does not currently have any pathways for divorce entirely online. Barring Nonadversarial Divorces (which still aren’t guaranteed to be finalized without a court appearance), anyone filing for divorce in the state must appear in court in front of a judge at least once.

However, online divorce services are an increasingly popular way for those looking to complete their divorces cheaply. Online services are a method of preparing divorce documents that’s much less expensive than going through the traditional route of using an attorney.

In essence, online divorce services are similar to platforms like TurboTax that help you complete your tax forms efficiently.

Rather than reading through complicated and unclear legal language, you can answer questions in simple English about your family, financial, and relationship situation.

Then, your online divorce software will output out the completed documents ready for you to file with the courts. In fact, some online services will even take care of it for you, so you don’t have to handle court proceedings.

So, rather than going through all the difficulty and confusion of filling out your divorce forms yourself, the online platform will guide you through the process in an easy-to-understand way. Not only that, but you can also save a lot of money while bringing this chapter of your life to an end.

How to Qualify for an Online Divorce in Connecticut

Unfortunately, not everyone can get a divorce using an online provider, as there are some preconditions for getting a divorce online.

The most significant barrier to using an online divorce service is that people who are pursuing a contested divorce cannot complete their forms online. Rather, you must be seeking an uncontested divorce after agreeing to a settlement with your spouse or partner.

This rule results because contested divorces feature issues that are too complex to be run through a standard online questionnaire, while uncontested divorces are often a matter of filling in the proper forms correctly.

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Do You Still Need to Go to Court?

Unless you and your spouse are planning to file for a Nonadversarial Divorce, at least one required court appearance in front of a judge is guaranteed. While numerous divorce proceedings took place over digital meeting platforms (like Zoom) during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, as vaccination rates rise, courts are undertaking in-person procedures most of the time.

Key Takeaways

While there is no state-approved or state-operated online divorce process in Connecticut, potential divorcees may consider using an online divorce paper preparation service. Online divorce services are an inexpensive option for couples getting an uncontested divorce, but they aren’t an option for those with a contested divorce. We recommend 3StepDivorce learn more >>

How Long Does it Take to Get a Divorce in Connecticut?

Divorce timelines in Connecticut vary based on the type of divorce, the amicability of the spouses, and the length of time it takes couples to agree on a divorce settlement.

Nonadversarial divorces offer the shortest, most convenient time frame for divorcing couples. After filing their paperwork, a divorcing couple could have their divorce finalized by a judge (potentially without having to appear in court) in just over 30 days.

But, Nonadversarial Divorces aren’t guaranteed to settle without a court appearance in front of a judge. Some couples who proceed in this fashion may still have to appear in front of a judge before their divorce is finalized, which would add approximately 30 more days to the divorce process.

Divorces With an Agreement can be quite an efficient option for divorcing couples who don’t meet the requirements for Nonadversarial Divorces.

For couples without minor children, the timeline will include

The Resolution Plan Date will take place approximately 30 days after the initial filing of paperwork. But, same-day finalization isn’t guaranteed. If all available judges’ dockets are fully booked for the day, a separate final judgment date will be set approximately 30 days after the Resolution Plan Date.

For Divorces with an Agreement involving one or more minor children, the requirement that both spouses participate in a parenting education course can throw a wrench into the schedule. Each parenting education course lasts six hours, and the courses are offered in either two three-hour classes or three two-hour classes.

Depending on the availability of the divorcing parents and the calendar of class offerings, waiting for a class to open up that works with the spouses’ schedules can tack even more time onto the divorce process (potentially another month or more).

So, Divorces with an Agreement (with or without minor children) can take a minimum of thirty days to complete. But, scheduling of court dates can sometimes exceed 30 days in advance, and the necessity of parenting education courses can add extra time to the itinerary. No divorce timeline is set in stone.

Divorces Without an Agreement (with or without minor children) represent the longest divorce processes in Connecticut. Spouses must accommodate numerous steps in the divorce process:

Assuming at least a 30-day waiting period between each of these phases, divorce cases that go to trial can take upwards of four months to be finalized. Plus, for particularly complicated divorces, where spouses have a hard time making compromises, multiple trial dates are required, adding (at minimum) another 30 days per court session.

The best way for couples to expedite the divorce process is to make an effort to agree on the terms of the divorce as quickly and as early as possible. If both parties agree on the terms of the divorce (whether they have minor children or not) before the initial filing process, timelines can decrease substantially.

Key Takeaways

Depending on the type of divorce a couple pursues, the divorce process in Connecticut can take anywhere from 30 days to many months (or even a year). Nonadversarial Divorce and Divorce With an Agreement proceedings take the least amount of time because couples are either amicable before the process begins or they resolve their differences quickly and the courts can finalize without intervention.

Divorce Costs in Connecticut

Divorce can be costly in any state, and Connecticut is no different. But, like the divorce timeline, divorce costs can be significantly reduced if the couples remain amicable (or strive to resolve their differences quickly) during the divorce process.

Amicable divorces cost the least for a variety of reasons, primarily because of a reduction in court fees.

Court Fees

Unless they have an approved fee waiver, couples pay for nearly every court process during their divorce, including printing copies of their final divorce order.

The current filing fee for a divorce (of any of the three types) in Connecticut is $350.00. The cost for a State Marshal to serve divorce papers to your spouse is around $50.00 (on average). If you have minor children, the cost of parenting education is $300.00 total ($150.00 per spouse).

So, at a minimum, divorce in Connecticut costs $350.00. This, of course, only applies to Nonadversarial Divorces and Divorces With an Agreement where no minor children are involved.

For Divorces With an Agreement where minor children are involved, the minimum cost is $650.00 (the $350.00 filing fee plus the $300.00 fee for parental education).

Divorces Without an Agreement are the most expensive. At minimum, and where no minor children are involved, these divorces cost $400.00 (the $350.00 filing fee plus the approximately $50.00 State Marshal’s fee for service of process). But, if the defendant files a Cross Complaint against the plaintiff, couples can tack on an extra $200.00 filing fee for the Cross Complaint.

A Divorce Without an Agreement where the defendant files a Cross Complaint and there are minor children involved costs, at minimum, $900.00 (the $350.00 filing fee, plus the approximately $50.00 State Marshal fee, plus the $200.00 Cross Complaint filing fee, plus the $300.00 cost of parental education courses for both spouses).

But, any of the three divorce types, with or without children, may incur additional attorney fees.

Attorney Fees

Attorney fees, like court fees, can get expensive fast. Luckily, for divorcing couples who can’t afford legal representation, legal aid assistance is available at low or no cost.

But, for couples that aren’t in financial need (or who can’t prove that they’re in financial need), attorney fees can add up fast. In Connecticut, the average hourly rate for a divorce attorney is over $300, a figure that’s only increased as a result of inflation and demand.

Attorneys also usually require a retainer, which will incur additional costs. However, couples that resolve their differences quickly after retaining legal counsel can significantly decrease their legal fees. Just like shortening the timeline for divorce proceedings, the cost of attorney fees can be significantly reduced if couples make an effort to achieve amicability and quickly agree to the terms of their divorce.

Litigation Costs

While attorneys charge a fee even if the case doesn’t go to trial (they charge for document preparation and filing and advice during the Resolution Plan Date and Pretrial Settlement Conference, if cases proceed that far without an agreement), fees only increase once a case has to be litigated.

Litigation, or a trial in front of a judge, requires significantly more work on an attorney’s part than pretrial legal support. Litigation involves the gathering of evidence, recruitment and briefing of witnesses, and preparations of oral presentations for trial sessions. Thus, litigation costs add up even faster than pretrial attorney fees.

Again, the golden rule for couples who want to decrease their divorce costs is to achieve amicability as early in the process as possible (preferably before the divorce papers are even filed) and to agree as quickly as possible.

Mediation

Mediation is encouraged to help couples sort out their differences and come to an agreement about the divorce arrangement. While mediation provided by Connecticut’s Family Services is free, if spouses choose to retain attorneys for legal support, they’re usually in attendance at the mediation to support and advocate for their clients.

And, as discussed, the more time an attorney spends on your divorce case, the higher spouses’ legal fees will be. While mediation is always the preferred option over litigation, couples should still regard time as being of the essence in their divorce proceedings, especially if attorneys are involved.

Some disagreements can’t be solved with mediation. After multiple unsuccessful mediation sessions, couples should consider going to trial and asking a judge to make decisions for them.

Online Divorce Service

While there is no state-sponsored path to divorce that is entirely online, potential divorcees may choose to take advantage of online document preparation services. These online service providers charge hundreds of dollars, and they don’t provide any legal advice.

Using an online divorce is one of the cheapest ways to get a divorce in New Jersey, avoiding the high fees of both attorneys and mediators. If your divorce is uncontested, you can have your divorce complaint prepared online for around $300 on average.

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Key Takeaways

Divorce is an expensive proposition for any couple, and potential divorcees must consider the costs of:

  • Court proceedings
  • Attorney fees
  • Litigation fees

Custody Considerations in Connecticut

Before filing for divorce in Connecticut, if you and your spouse have minor children, you should do your best to come to an early agreement about your ideal custody arrangement.

While decisions made by a judge about child custody are always made on behalf of, primarily, the child’s best interest, judges also order custody arrangements that provide the child with active and consistent involvement of both parents to the extent that they’re interested in being involved.

The ideal situation for both divorcing parents and their children is for a judge to certify and order a custody arrangement that the parents devised themselves and agreed to before any appearances in front of a judge.

Whether that custody arrangement is joint custody, primary full custody by one parent with visitation by the other, or primary full custody by a third party, a reasonable custody arrangement agreed upon by both spouses will, in all likelihood, result in approval by a judge, saving couples time and attorney fees.

Judges may order any of the following custody arrangements:

If a divorce case goes to trial, and spouses cannot compromise on a custody arrangement, a judge will order a custody arrangement that must be accepted (and obeyed) by both parents.

The top two considerations Connecticut judges make when determining an appropriate custody arrangement are:

  1. The developmental needs of a child, along with their temperament
  2. The capacity for each parent to not only serve the needs of their child but to understand those needs

If couples cannot come to a custody agreement on their own, they risk a judge assigning a custody arrangement that doesn’t honor either parent’s requests. If couples can come to a compromise about their custody arrangement without having to leave the decision to a judge, they’re less likely to resent the custody arrangement as a whole.

Remember that your children love both you and your spouse, despite anything your spouse has done to hurt you. Try to put yourself in not only your spouse’s shoes, but your child’s shoes, and make compromises and sacrifices accordingly.

Consider sitting down with your child (and your spouse, if possible) and asking them what they’d like to do if they’re old enough to comprehend what’s going on. While this can be a painful exercise if one spouse is favored over the other, some attempts to honor your child’s wishes should be made if they can make them.

Key Takeaways

It behooves couples to agree to their custody arrangement before the divorce papers are even filed since this would save both time and money in potential court, attorney, and litigation processes.

Judges will act in the best interest of the child when accepting parents’ custody arrangements or devising their own, but parents should do their best to compromise and honor their child’s wishes in their pursuit of an agreeable custody arrangement.

Child Support Considerations in Connecticut

Just like all other states, Connecticut statutes contain laws that assist judges in the determination of child support payments according to the needs of the child and the financial situations of both parents.

In all three types of divorces in Connecticut, both parties file Financial Affidavits to provide judges with specific financial information. Judges use these affidavits to determine both parents’ monthly income, their expenses, their debts, and their healthcare costs.

After reviewing the affidavits, in a case that goes to trial, a judge will determine if the amount of child support requested from one parent or offered by another is equitable based on the parent’s income and the child’s needs.

The court is also in charge of enforcing child support agreement violations and collecting past-due child support payments. Like custody arrangements, child support agreements ordered by a judge are legally binding, and violations of those agreements usually result in legal consequences.

Like custody arrangements, judges can enforce a child support agreement devised and agreed to by both parents or create their own based on their knowledge of the child and both parents.

And, like custody arrangements, it benefits both parents and their child to agree to child support terms as early in the divorce proceedings as possible. Early agreement on child support can prevent spending additional time in court and forking over more money in attorney fees.

Have an honest conversation with your spouse about the cost of caring for your child. Estimate how much it costs to feed them, clothe them, educate them, provide their medical care, and entertain them. And, if one spouse cannot afford to provide all of those elements of child care in their current income situation, the other spouse should provide financial support.

Reasonable requests will be met with agreement, so keep your child’s needs and best interests when devising your child support agreement with your spouse.

Key Takeaways

Like custody arrangements, child support arrangements should be agreed upon by both parents as early in the divorce process as possible. In the effort that divorcing parents cannot agree, they’ll spend both time and money on additional court proceedings, and a judge will order a child support arrangement dependent upon the information presented in each party’s Financial Affidavits.

Alimony Considerations in Connecticut

Spousal support, also referred to as alimony, is a legal request that can be made as a part of a divorce in Connecticut. Spousal support is distinct from both property division and financial award as the result of a divorce proceeding and refers to the regular payment to one spouse by the other to provide financial support.

Alimony can be temporary. In many cases, couples agree to a temporary alimony agreement whereby one spouse financially supports the other until the less financially stable spouse is educated or trained for a new job or until they secure full-time employment.

Alimony arrangements can also last for any duration agreed upon by the divorcing couple or ordered by a judge. Alimony can be:

In some cases, judges may order the supporting spouse to secure a life insurance policy that benefits the other spouse in the event of their death, though these situations are uncommon.

As with both of the considerations discussed above (custody and child support arrangements), an alimony arrangement is ideally determined and agreed upon as early as possible in the divorce proceedings. Consider asking your spouse to fill out your Financial Affidavits together, so that you both have a clear picture of what the other’s financial situation will look like once your marriage is over.

If you’re the spouse who will likely be paying alimony and you’re experiencing some resentment, recall a time when you would have done anything to provide for your spouse and try to imagine what their life would look like in poverty.

If you’re the spouse who will likely be receiving spousal support, remember that your spouse once worked hard to provide for your family, and until such a time when you can provide for yourself, keep your requests reasonable.

Key Takeaways

Like child custody and child support arrangements, couples should try to agree to their alimony agreement as early as possible in the divorce process. Alimony is a legal and perfectly sensible financial agreement between spouses, and each spouse should enter discussions about alimony with an open mind, a clear idea of their needs and capabilities, and respect.

Division of Assets

One of the most important aspects of marital property division in Connecticut is that it’s based on equity, not equality.

In an equal distribution of assets, each spouse would receive one-half of all of the couple’s assets: half of the profits from the sale of their home, half of the profits from the sale of both of their cars, half of their investment accounts, and half of their tangible property.

In many ways, equal distribution of property is nonsensical: Not only does it not accurately reflect each spouse’s contribution to their pool of assets, but it can also present significant impracticalities. If one spouse drives a Jaguar and the other drives a Honda, how is that divided equally?

Equitable distribution acknowledges practicalities, each spouse’s contribution, and fairness in the division of marital assets. To flesh out an example, let’s discuss real estate.

Real Estate

If neither spouse wants to stay in their jointly-owned home once the divorce is finalized, it will be sold and the profits distributed equitably between the spouses:

Equitable distribution is the fairer arrangement. But, let’s complicate the situation: Let’s say one of the spouses wants to stay in the home. Equitable distribution would stipulate that the spouse keeping the home could either buy it outright from the other or pay out the current equity.

The financial compensation for the home would allow the spouse who isn’t staying to find a new place to live that’s comparable to either the married home or its equity.

401k, IRA, and Other Investments

When dividing 401k, IRA, or other investment accounts, judges will review statements to determine the amounts that each spouse contributed. Equal distribution would stipulate that each spouse gets 50% of all of the account funds.

But, equitable distribution usually results in both spouses receiving their total principal and a proportional amount of the interest accrued, in the case of retirement accounts.

One of the justifications for equitable division over equal division is that, in all likelihood, the spouse who contributed less to both the marital home’s equity and the couple’s investments will probably receive spousal support as a result of having a lower income than the other spouse.

Equitable division of property is one of the checks and balances of the divorce agreement and ultimately makes the agreement fairer, especially in the event of an alimony agreement.

Businesses

Businesses are also equitably distributed, but like other assets, it’s also divided with both spouses’ other awards in mind.

For instance, in a 2019 appeal of an asset division agreement, a court determined that by granting a plaintiff 50% of the value of the defendant’s businesses, the defendant then became incapable of paying the plaintiff’s alimony per their agreement due to a lack of income. The agreement was amended to return the 50% value back to the defendant and continue the alimony agreement as it was written.

Equitable division of businesses is not cut and dried, as the case above indicates. Judges must consider the overall benefits to both parties as a result of each asset’s division, businesses included. If a business is liquidated and a portion is distributed to a spouse who receives spousal support, for instance, the person paying alimony may be less able to make those payments.

So, the court must consider a variety of factors when ordering or creating an asset division agreement between divorcing spouses.

Other Assets

Other assets can include tangible property, like the furniture inside of a home, vehicles, recreation equipment, and more.

The distribution of tangible property is also equitably distributed, but these items are also distributed in accordance with practicality.

If, for instance, one spouse decided to stay in the marital home (and an asset division had already been stipulated for that), that spouse would, in all likelihood, also be given the furniture, kitchenware, and appliances. To maintain equitable division, a concession would be made to the other spouse regarding another asset, since one spouse got to keep a significant value of tangible assets.

Key Takeaways

Real estate, investments, businesses, and other assets are distributed equitably between spouses, not equally. While spouses can come up with their own asset division agreements (and are encouraged to do so), judges who are given control of a couple’s asset division rely on careful consideration of the entire asset situation of both spouses and historical precedent.

Common-Law Marriage Considerations in Connecticut

Common-Law Marriage is not recognized in Connecticut, but the state’s legal system does recognize common-law marriages established in another state as long as the practice is legal there.

While common-law marriages are acknowledged as such, couples united in common law marriage are not protected by any state laws pertaining to marriage or divorce. Under Connecticut law, a separation from a common-law spouse would be an informal proceeding and not a legal matter.

While Civil Unions were legal in Connecticut beginning in 2005 – allowing gay couples to enter into Civil Unions – the practice was repealed in 2010, when gay marriage was legalized in Connecticut. All existing civil unions at the time were converted into binding marriages, except for unions that had been dissolved, annulled, or legally separated before 2010.

Anyone who entered into a Civil Union between 2005 and 2010 whose Civil Union was converted into a marriage is protected by laws that govern both marriage and divorce in Connecticut. So, former Civilly-United spouses (who are now deemed married) can file for divorce just like any other married person.

Key Takeaways

Common-law marriage is not recognized in Connecticut, except for couples who were common-law married in a state that allows the practice. But, common-law marriages are not protected under any Connecticut laws that protect married or divorced people.

Civil Unions, which were once created in an attempt at marriage equality, are no longer legal. But, Civil Unions that were converted into legally binding marriages in 2010 are now legally protected marriages where spouses can file for divorce.

Alternatives to Divorce in Connecticut

Despite no longer being happy together, some spouses aren’t ready to start divorce proceedings. Some common justifications for putting off a divorce include:

Luckily, there are a few alternatives to divorce in Connecticut, and they should all be considered before a couple resorts to divorce.

Legal Separation

Legal separation is possible in Connecticut. People who are legally separated must proceed through the same legal channels as couples seeking a divorce, but there’s one key difference between divorce and legal separation: Legally separated couples aren’t permitted to marry someone else, while divorced spouses are free to do so.

Legal separation can serve as a middle ground for couples who are no longer happy but don’t want to completely give up on the marriage. But, like divorce, legal separation shouldn’t be taken lightly, since it can have a profound effect on the spouses’ relationship and family dynamic.

Annulment

Annulment is a valid means of legally ending a marriage only if the marriage was against Connecticut laws in the first place. Some examples of illegal marriages in Connecticut are:

Thus, annulment is not a divorce alternative, but a completely different legal practice.

Work it Out Together

If you’re unhappy in your marriage but you’re not ready for divorce, consider taking some time to repair the relationship with your partner.

Repairing a relationship isn’t something you can do on your own. Sit down with your partner, explain why you’re unhappy or unsatisfied with the relationship, and make a plan to fix it together. Not every problem can be solved overnight, but set reminders to check in with each other and reflect periodically as you try to patch things up.

Seek Counseling

Marriage counseling should always be considered before filing for divorce. Marriage counseling provides an opportunity for couples to air their grievances about the relationship and make efforts to improve with the help of an unbiased third party.

Plus, marriage counselors are licensed professionals relying upon time-tested methods for improving relationships and mental health in general. If anything, marriage counseling could help both spouses mentally prepare for the prospect of divorce if the relationship proves to be irreparable.

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Open Marriage

An open marriage is not a new concept, but it’s been getting significant media attention. While an open marriage could add some excitement into you and your spouse’s life, any deviations from monogamy that are completely unfamiliar to one or both partners require extremely strong communication skills and boundary-setting.

If your partner agrees to try an open marriage, you both need to set up a set of rules and boundaries about the activities you’re comfortable with your partner doing with another person, the frequency of those activities, and how you want your partner to communicate with you about their experiences.

Parenting Marriage

Even if you’re no longer happy together, “staying together for the kids” doesn’t have to be miserable. While you can certainly stay legally married, consider a platonic relationship with your spouse, where your union exists for childrearing and friendship only.

Like an open relationship, a parenting marriage requires frequent, honest, and high-quality communication to be viable.

Getting a Divorce in Connecticut: You’re Not Alone

Even after learning about the paperwork alone, divorce can be a daunting prospect. But, with the help of legal resources in Connecticut, the legal support of an attorney, and this handy guide, a divorce from your spouse is attainable.

Most importantly, you’re not the first person in the world to get a divorce, and you certainly won’t be the last. Seek support from other divorced people, ask for support from a mental health professional, and start imagining your life as a single person in preparation for the next stage of your life.

 
Lauren Cook-McKay is the Vice President of Marketing at DivorceAnswers.com. She holds a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) from the University of San Diego and applies her training in private practice to helping couples struggling in their marriage. She strongly believes there is hope in all marriages and strives to provide therapy to couples that will lead them back towards a loving marriage, or an amicable divorce that brings peace and closure. Connect with Lauren on LinkedIn here.