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Connecticut

Connecticut is the state that birthed Mr. Dictionary himself, Noah Webster, one of the founding fathers of our great nation. While Webster didn’t have to contend with Connecticut divorce laws, navigating the ins and outs of the divorce process is just a part of regular life for many Connecticutians (the official term used by Webster to describe residents of New York’s coolest nicest neighbor).

Grounds for Divorce Under Connecticut Divorce Laws

  1. The marriage has broken down irretrievably (much like the cars that broke down in 1901, this marriage is beyond repair, should be scrapped and perhaps the time has come to look for a new model, no?)
  2. The parties have lived apart due to incompatibility for eighteen months with no reasonable prospect of reconciliation.
  3. Adultery.
  4. Fraudulent contract occurs when one spouse deceives the other prior to the marriage.
  5. Willful desertion for one year with total neglect of duty
  6. Seven years absence with no contact.
  7. Habitual intemperance. 
  8. If the spouse is sentenced to life imprisonment
  9. If the spouse is convicted of a crime for which punishment will involve a violation of conjugal duty punishable by more than one year in prison
  10. Legal confinement in a mental institution for five years within the six years prior to filing for divorce.

Waiting Period

There is a minimum 90-day waiting period from the date of return on the complaint for dissolution before the court will hear and grant a dissolution of marriage.

Residency Requirements

This next bit should come as no surprise to you.

You must be a resident of the State of Connecticut if you want to file for divorce there.

A Complaint for Dissolution of Marriage may be filed at any time after either spouse has established residency with the State of Connecticut.

A decree of dissolution of marriage will not be issued by the court however, until:

  1. At least one of the parties to the marriage has been a resident of the state for one year prior to filing for divorce;
  2. One of the parties was domiciled in the state at the time of marriage and returned to the state with the intention of remaining indefinitely prior to the filing of the complaint, or;
  3. The cause of the divorce arose after either party moved to the state (maybe one spouse abandoned the other and moved to Connecticut; that’s plausible).

Name of Court and Title of Action/Parties

A divorce action must be filed the Superior Court.

The title of the action initiating dissolution of marriage is called a Complaint for Dissolution of Marriage (this is when you or your spouse files for divorce). After the complaint is filed, and the decision is made by the court, you get what is referred to as the Decree of Dissolution of Marriage.

One down, two more names to know during the process of the divorce:

  1. The person filing the action for dissolution of marriage is called the Plaintiff
  2. And the other person is referred to as the Defendant.

Simplified Divorce Proceedings

The court may grant a request for dissolution of marriage if:

  • The parties execute a written stipulation that the marriage has broken down irretrievably
  • The parties appear in court and stipulate that the marriage has broken down irretrievably
  • And the parties have submitted an agreement covering all issues regarding the custody, care, education, visitation and support of any minor children and all issues relating to alimony and division of property

Legal separation

A decree of legal separation will be granted in the State of Connecticut for the same grounds as a decree of dissolution of marriage. For a refresher course on the grounds, just scroll up a bit.

Conciliation/Mediation

On or after the return day of a complaint for dissolution of marriage and prior to the expiration of the 90-day waiting period before the issuance of a decree of dissolution, either party may request conciliation for the purposes of exploring reconciliation or resolving conflicts – which often continue even after the granting of a decree of dissolution.

Conciliation requires a mandatory two-session consultation with a professional regarding the issues of reconciliation or conflict resolution.

Mediation may also be ordered by the court to resolve such things as property, financial, child custody and visitation issues. You’re also free to seek counseling on your own.

Alimony

Alimony – oh, alimony – can you even think of another word beginning with “A” that’s more painful to hear/speak/think than alimony?

Of course you can’t. So what’s the deal here?

Well, it seems that in the great State of Connecticut, alimony may be awarded to either spouse after consideration of the following factors:

  • Length of the marriage
  • Cause of the dissolution, annulment or separation
  • Age, health, and station of each party
  • Occupation, amount and source of income of each party
  • Vocational skills and employability of each party
  • Estate and needs of each of the parties
  • Desirability of a custodial parent obtaining employment

Distribution of Property

Connecticut is an equitable distribution state. Courts will first distribute property to its original owner (i.e., what came into the marriage with you). Then, marital property gets divvied up as the court deems equitable and just. The court will consider the following:

  • Length of the Marriage
  • Cause of the dissolution, annulment or separation
  • Age, health and station of each party
  • Occupation, amount and source of income of each party
  • Vocational skills and employability of each party
  • Estate, liabilities and needs of each of the parties
  • Opportunity of each party for future acquisition of capital, assets and income
  • Contribution of each party to the acquisition, preservation or appreciation of each party’s estate

Child Custody

So now we are bringing children into the equation. This certainly complicates matters.

Of course, the court will consider the best interests of the child in determining issues relating to custody of minor children. There is a presumption that joint custody is in the child’s best interests.

If the child is of sufficient age and is capable of forming intelligent preferences, the court shall consider the child’s wishes as well. The court may also take into account the causes of the dissolution if such causes are relevant (if one spouse is in prison or a mental hospital, the custody arrangement will reflect the circumstances).

The non-custodial parent shall not be denied access to the academic, medical or other records of the child, unless otherwise ordered by the court.

Parenting Education Program

Parties to a divorce action involving minor children are required to attend a parenting education program designed to educate persons, including unmarried parents, about the impact that restructuring a home has on families.

Exceptions to this requirement include:

  • Parties agree, subject to the approval of the court, not to participate in such program
  • Court determines that participation is not deemed necessary
  • Or parties select and participate in a comparable parenting education program

You’ll receive information on:

  • The developmental stages and benchmarks to look out for in children
  • Adjustment of children to parental separation
  • Dispute
  • Resolution and conflict management
  • Guidelines for visitation
  • Stress reduction in children
  • Cooperative parenting

No party shall be required to participate in such program more than once. A party shall be deemed to have satisfactorily completed such program upon certification by the program’s service provider.

Child Support

Either parent may be ordered to pay child support after consideration of the following factors:

  • Age, health, station, occupation, earning capacity, amount and sources of income, estate vocational skills and employability of each of the parents
  • And age health, station, occupation, educational status and expectation, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate and needs of the child

Connecticut has enacted child support guidelines that establish the presumptively correct amount of child support to be paid. Any deviation from the guidelines must be accompanied by a written finding that applying said guidelines would be inequitable or inappropriate in a given, particular case.

Name Change

The court, upon request, may change the name of either spouse to that spouse’s former or maiden name.

Grandparent Visitation

The court may grant visitation of a child to any person, upon a finding that such visitation would be in the child or children’s best interest.

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