Abandonment & Divorce
How does one spouse’s abandonment impact a Connecticut divorce?
You may wonder whether abandonment or desertion is one of the available “grounds” — or bases — for divorce.
Read on to learn more.
No Fault and For Fault Connecticut Divorce Grounds
Connecticut has both “no fault” and “for fault” divorce. Section 46b-40 of the Connecticut General Statutes lays out both the “no fault” and “for fault” grounds for divorce. Read: What Are the Grounds for Divorce in Connecticut?
Abandonment and For Fault Divorce
In many places, abandonment or desertion was a traditional “for fault” divorce ground. In Connecticut, the “for fault” divorce grounds include (among other things):
- Willful desertion for one year with total neglect of duty
- Seven years’ absence, during all of which period the absent party has not been heard from
In other words, there are two “for fault” divorce grounds that might be considered “abandonment.”
Are Divorces for Abandonment Common?
Fault divorces are uncommon. No fault divorce is much more common. It allows the couple to avoid calling friends or relatives to testify in court about the reasons for the breakdown of the marriage. Unlike the no fault divorce process, parties asking the court for a fault divorce must be able to prove that a spouse’s misconduct caused the relationship to fail. Most people find this unappealing. It likely involves the testimony of family and friends and sets up a protracted, high conflict litigation. Read: What is a No Fault Divorce?
“No Fault” Divorce and Abandonment
Even if your situation fits into one of the “for fault” abandonment divorce grounds, you are likely still eligible for one of the “no fault” grounds.
- The marriage has broken down irretrievably
- The parties have lived apart by reason of incompatibility for a continuous period of at least the eighteen months immediately prior to the service of the complaint and that there is no reasonable prospect that they will be reconciled
In a no fault divorce, neither spouse must prove that the other is “at fault.” Rather, you prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down with no reasonable prospect of reconciliation. Either spouse’s testimony that the marriage has irretrievably broken down is sufficient for the court to order the divorce.
This can be confusing, but “no fault” does not mean that a court will never consider whether one spouse is the reason why the marriage broke down. Even in no fault divorces, the concept of fault is built into our law. Judges can consider whether one spouse had a more significant role in breaking down the marriage when it comes to alimony and property division. It’s important to note that although judges have the authority to adjust their orders based upon the cause of the breakdown (for example, abandonment), there are many other factors that they take into account when making decisions about property distribution and alimony.
Now that you have learned more about the grounds for divorce in Connecticut, you may want to learn more about “How Alimony Works in Connecticut Divorces” or the available alternative ways to divorce in Connecticut. Our first step at Freed Marcroft, the Goals & Planning Conference, is designed to get to the heart of your problem and unveil your true goals. Then, we take those goals along with the facts of your case and analyze them so that we can present you with recommendations and options on how to move forward.