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Steps to Filing a Connecticut Divorce

In Connecticut, either spouse can file for a divorce, also known as a “dissolution of marriage”, and the process takes several months up to a year or longer to complete. The time frame to complete a divorce depends on numerous factors, such as the complexity of the issues that need to be resolved, the willingness of the spouses to cooperate during the process, and many others.  

For example, if you and your spouse both agree to proceed with the divorce, and you have very few assets and no children, you may be able to complete the process in as little as three months. On the other hand, if there are significant marital assets that need to be divided, issues involving children (e.g., child support, child custody and visitation), a request for alimony, and similarly complex issues in which the spouses are not in agreement, the process can drag on for quite a bit longer.

Connecticut has both fault-based and no-fault divorces. A spouse may choose to file for a fault-based divorce on one of the acceptable grounds, such as:

Parties may ask for a fault-based divorce in order to gain an advantage over the other spouse during the proceeding on issues such as division of assets, spousal support, and child custody. These types of cases require specific proof of spousal misconduct, however, and this can make them more complicated and costlier to pursue. For this reason, the most common type of divorce in Connecticut is a no-fault divorce.

With a no-fault divorce, the reason can be as vague as “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.” In other words, the couple has irreconcilable differences, and the marriage is broken beyond repair. You can also file a no-fault divorce if you and your spouse have lived apart continuously for a period of at least 18 months.

Steps in a CT Divorce

Once you have decided to file for a divorce and decided whether to opt for a fault-based or no-fault divorce, there are several steps that must be completed in the process:

Meeting Residency Requirements

For a court in Connecticut to have jurisdiction over your case, you or your spouse needs to meet one of the following residency requirements:

Filing the Paperwork

There are three or four main forms that need to be filed to initiate the divorce process in CT:

  • The summons is filed by the plaintiff spouse notifying the defendant spouse of the dissolution of marriage filing.
  • The complaint lists the reason for divorce, and other personal information about you, your spouse, and any children that you may have.
  • This form is filed along with the complaint, and it lists the obligations the spouses have with regards to assets and children. Examples may include prohibitions on selling, gifting, or borrowing against any property, running up unreasonable credit card debt or other types of personal loans on a joint account, changing beneficiaries on insurance policies, and many others.
  • This form lists information about the children, such as who they are currently residing with and any prior custody and visitation issues.

Waiting Period and Negotiations

Once the paperwork has been filed and the defendant spouse has been served, a 90-day waiting period ensues. During the waiting period, (the period leading up to your case management date) the parties and their attorneys typically enter into negotiations in an attempt to reach a settlement. If a settlement agreement can be reached, a final hearing is held, the agreement becomes a court order, and the dissolution of marriage is finalized. If the parties are unable to reach a settlement, the case proceeds to trial.

Divorce Litigation

Negotiations may continue up until the date that the divorce trial begins, and if the parties are still not able to come to an agreement, then they proceed with litigation. During litigation, both sides present evidence and argue their cases, and the judge hears and evaluates the arguments and renders a final decision on the issues that are in dispute.

Facing a Divorce in CT? Speak with an Experienced Family Law Attorney

If you are considering filing for a divorce in Connecticut, you need skilled legal counsel by your side advocating forcefully for your rights and interests. At The Apex Law Firm, LLC, we understand that divorce can be a difficult and confusing process, and we work closely with our clients to provide strong legal guidance and moral support during this turbulent time. For a consultation with one of our attorneys, call our office today at (860) 900-0900. You may also send us a message through our online contact form or stop by our Hartford County office in person at your convenience.