Every state has its divorce and family laws. Connecticut is no exception. Spouses whose relationship can no longer continue have three main options in this state.
First, they can ask the court for legal separation. It means the spouses will stay married officially, but they can divide property, decide on custody, solve other marital issues and live separately.
Second, they may annul their marriage. An annulment means the marriage is declared invalid.However, in Connecticut, it is pretty rare. In most cases, it is used when marriage was illegal from the beginning.
The third option available for couples in Connecticut is divorce. Divorce is a permanent and legal termination of a marriage. Both spouses should understand the whole process to know where to start, how to organize and finalize the case, and what pitfalls might be awaiting them. Continue reading and learn more about the basic steps to getting a divorce in Connecticut.
Step 1: Meet Residency Requirements
Connecticut has its unique residency requirements for people seeking a marriage dissolution. To be eligible to apply for divorce in the state, the filing spouse must meet one of them. The requirements include:
Living in Connecticut for at least one year before filing for divorce. The documents can be filed before meeting the 12 months requirement, but the court will only decide after this period passes.
Living in Connecticut at the time of the marriage and returning before the application is filed.
A couple can also file for divorce in Connecticut if the reason for the dissolution of marriage occurred after one of the spouses moved to the state. In this case, the law says nothing about the one year of the residency requirement, but in most cases, the court issues a decree after completing 12 months’ residency.
If you don’t meet at least one of the requirements mentioned above, you can negotiate with your spouse to file for divorce if they qualify. As an alternative, you can choose another state where you or your spouse are eligible to apply.
Step 2: Choose Grounds for Divorce
As a no-fault divorce state, Connecticut allows couples to end their relationship without blaming either party for breaking the marriage. A no-fault divorce can be granted if one of the following causes has occurred:
The marriage is irretrievably broken. In this case, the spouses agree that their relationship can’t be repaired, and reconciliation is impossible.
The spouses have lived separately due to incompatibility for at least 18 months before filing documents with the court.
Spouses in Connecticut are also allowed to file for a fault divorce if they want the court to consider one of the parties’ misconduct. Some of the most common reasons include:
deceit or fraud;
purposeful abandonment of spouse for at least 12 months;
a seven-year absence;
drug or alcohol addiction;
mental illness of one of the spouses who has been in the hospital for 5 out of 6 years.
A key aspect of a fault-based divorce is that the petitioner must provide evidence of the respondent’s guilt.
Step 3: Think about the Divorce Type
Choosing a divorce type is a crucial point in the marriage dissolution process. How much time, effort, and money spouses will need to invest depends on how they want to proceed. Connecticut allows two main divorce types: contested and uncontested. Let’s learn more about each of them.
A contested divorce means that one of the spouses disagrees with either the decision to end the relationship or any other aspect, including property division, spousal support (alimony), child custody, child support, etc.
If spouses can’t reach an agreement, they have to go through court hearings. It may significantly increase the cost of divorce. Spouses will often have to pay higher filing fees and hire lawyers to represent them in court. Such specialists can cost a pretty penny.
An uncontested divorce means that the spouses are ready to resolve all issues peacefully. They settle any marital disputes themselves and agree on the divorce process.
This type of marriage dissolution helps save money because spouses can resolve all issues without an attorney. It also saves time since such a proceeding usually takes place without lengthy legal battles.
Moreover, an uncontested divorce can reduce the level of conflict between spouses. With less litigation, both sides can experience less stress and maintain a normal relationship.
Step 4: Prepare Your Divorce Papers
Paperwork can be one of the most complex parts of a divorce. Spouses have to figure out which documents they need to prepare for their particular case and fill them out correctly. In Connecticut, spouses can do it in one of three ways.
Hire a Lawyer
Divorce attorneys can handle a case from start to finish. If the divorce is contested, then most likely, the spouses can’t cope without a lawyer. This person can help with negotiations between parties, filling out forms, and representing spouses in court. Some couples decide to hire a lawyer to prepare documents for uncontested cases. However, it can significantly increase expenses.
Most often, attorneys in Connecticut accept hourly fees. The cost ranges from $200 to $750, but it can even go up to $1000 per hour if the case is complex.
Those spouses who have agreed to start an uncontested process and don’t want to waste money on lawyers can use one of the following methods.
Complete Divorce Online
Preparing divorce documents using online tools is often called “online divorce” or “web divorce.” It is a relatively quick and affordable way to get your application ready. Spouses can choose one of the divorce companies that provide such services and entrust it with filling out the divorce documents.
Most often, it works the following way:
Spouses confirm they know each other’s whereabouts and agree on all aspects of their divorce. It is crucial to understand that internet divorce suits only those couples who want to start an uncontested case.
Spouses answer several questions about their marriage. These questions touch on the division of property, custody, alimony, etc. The number of questions may differ depending on each specific case.
The online platform selects the relevant forms and fills them out based on the spouses’ information within a few business days.
Spouses sign the ready-made forms and file them with the court.
The advantages of preparing an application for divorce online include saving time and money. Spouses don’t have to spend hours filling out papers. Instead, they only need to answer a questionnaire. Moreover, they don't have to spend hundreds of dollars (if not thousands) on lawyers.
Do It Yourself
Another inexpensive way to prepare paperwork is a DIY divorce. In this case, the spouses complete the documents on their own. To do this, they need to visit the State of Connecticut Judicial Branch website, download all the forms for their divorce, and fill them out themselves.
Requirements may differ from county to county and depending on the specifics of the case, but the starter document package should include:
Divorce Complaint (JD-FM-159)
Summons Family Actions (JD-FM-3)
Notice of Automatic Court Orders (JD-FM-158)
If spouses have children in common, the petitioner will also need to prepare an Affidavit Concerning Children (JD-FM-164).
At the first stage, these are all the documents that the spouses need to prepare. However, further paperwork will be required during the next steps.
Although this method of completing documents is very cost-effective, it’s not that fast. Not all people are familiar with legal terminology, so filling out the documents correctly on the first try can be challenging. Besides, preparing these forms on your own can take quite a lot of time and nerves.
Step 5: Filing and Serving Your Forms
Once the documents are ready, a couple can file them with the court. In Connecticut, the filing spouse should first go to the Superior Court Clerk’s office in the county where they or their spouse lives. The Court Clerk reviews the documents, signs them, and sets a Return Date, which is when the documents should be served and filed.
According to Connecticut laws, a State Marshal must serve the other spouse with a copy of the divorce documents and prepare a Return of Service form. After the filing spouse pays the filing fee, the case officially starts.
Step 6: Case Management
Next, a waiting period of 90 days begins. During this time, the spouses should agree on all divorce issues to make the process uncontested if they have not already. If they succeed, the Dissolution Agreement (form JD-FM-172) should be signed.
The spouses must also complete a Case Management Agreement (Form JD-FM-163), select the date for a final court hearing, and send it back to the court clerk.
If spouses have children in common, they will have to complete the parenting training program within 60 days after the return date. The state of Connecticut has a special list of approved educational programs to choose from. Upon completing this course, spouses will be required to provide Parenting Education Program Order, Certificate and Results (JD-FM-149).
When the day of the final court hearing comes, the spouses should be ready to present the final document package, including:
Dissolution Agreement (JD-FM-172);
Dissolution of Marriage Report (JD-FM-181);
Child Support Guideline Worksheet (CCSG-1);
Financial Affidavit (JD-FM-6);
Advisement of Rights (JD-FM-71).
If the divorce is uncontested, the parties simply come to court on the appointed date with the completed documents. The judge reviews them and grants them a divorce. If the divorce is contested, spouses must come to court on the appointed day for the judge to set a date for the next hearing where the spouses will discuss all contested matters and provide their evidence.
At first glance, divorce in Connecticut may seem like a rather complicated and confusing procedure. However, it depends on which scenario you choose. Can you negotiate all the marital issues with your spouse? Will your divorce be contested or uncontested? Do you want to prepare the forms yourself or with the help of a lawyer? Or maybe you want to be rational and get ready-made divorce papers over the internet.
Only you decide how to end your marriage (if you want to) and what is best for your particular case. But remember, if there is a way to make it easier on you, think about taking such a chance. It may help you focus more on recovering and building your new life after divorce.
Chrissy Ryland - I'm a freelance writer and blogger from Northern California. I grew up loving all things entertainment and travel and now I am blessed with a career that lets me write about both of those topics along with many others. For inquiries about a story you think I might want to cover, please contact me at email@example.com