What is a “No Fault” Divorce in Connecticut?

  •   |   Meghan Freed

Updated November 26, 2023

We are often asked, “What is a no fault divorce in Connecticut?” Connecticut has both “no fault” and “for fault” divorces.

History of CT Divorce

The legal landscape surrounding divorce has evolved significantly over the years, and Connecticut’s no-fault divorce laws have played a crucial role in reshaping how marriages end.

Connecticut’s divorce laws date back to the colony’s early days. In the early 18th century, Connecticut only granted divorce in cases of adultery, desertion, and extreme cruelty. CT later expanded the acceptable grounds to include habitual drunkenness, imprisonment for a crime, and intolerable cruelty.

Until the 20th century, divorce was rare and difficult to obtain. Courts typically only granted them to the wealthy or in cases of extreme hardship. In the 1920s, Connecticut began to see an increase in divorce petitions, and by the 1950s, the state had one of the highest divorce rates in the country.

Connecticut’s no-fault divorce laws, initially enacted in 1973, allow couples to dissolve their marriage without assigning blame to either party. This groundbreaking legal approach acknowledges that marriages can end for a variety of reasons, and it eliminates the need to prove fault or assign guilt in order to obtain a divorce.

Impact of Fault Divorce

Before the introduction of no-fault divorce laws, couples seeking a divorce had to prove that one spouse was at fault for the marriage’s breakdown. This requirement often led to a lengthy and contentious legal battle, as each spouse tried to prove that the other was to blame for the marriage’s demise.

Fault-based divorce laws created a hostile environment that often made it difficult for couples to reach an amicable agreement. The process was particularly harmful to women, who were often at a disadvantage in court due to gender biases and societal expectations.

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.

“No Fault” Divorce Grounds in Connecticut

  • The marriage has broken down irretrievably
  • The parties have lived apart because of incompatibility for a continuous period of at least eighteen months immediately before the service of the complaint, and there is no reasonable prospect that they will reconcile.

Key Takeaways About Connecticut “No Fault” Divorce

  • In a no fault divorce, neither spouse must prove that the other is “at fault” for the court to grant a divorce. Instead, 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 regarding alimony and property division.
  • It’s important to note that although judges have the authority to adjust their orders based on the cause of the breakdown (for example, adultery), there are many other factors that they take into account when making decisions about property distribution and alimony.

Future of Divorce Laws In Connecticut

As societal attitudes towards marriage and divorce evolve, Connecticut’s divorce laws will likely change. There may be a push towards more collaborative and cooperative approaches to divorce proceedings, such as mediation and arbitration.

Next Steps

Now that you have learned more about no fault divorce in Connecticut, you may want to know more about the available alternative ways to divorce. We designed our first step at Freed Marcroft, the Goals & Planning Conference, 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 for moving forward.

Schedule your Goals & Planning Conference today, or contact us here.

Freed Marcroft LLC

Freed Marcroft LLC