How to File for Divorce
Welcome to our guide on how to file for divorce in Connecticut. If you are considering filing for divorce, you’ll feel better with some background on both the legal requirements and the steps involved. Read on for answers to your most important questions and valuable insights to help you smoothly navigate your divorce.
Setting Up Your Divorce Goals
The first and most important thing you must do is decide to divorce. This sounds obvious, but some people become paralyzed by inaction and end up prolonging the decision. Although divorce is a major decision that you should carefully consider, extended indecision can also hurt everyone involved. Once you decide to move forward, you should start working with a legal team that truly understands what you want for your life afterward, because the divorce plan we might choose for ourselves isn’t necessarily the divorce plan that is best for you personally.
For example: Do you want a litigated or a mediated divorce? Do you want to try collaborative law? Sharing your wishes with us will set up how the arc of the divorce negotiation will look.
What Are the Residency Requirements for Divorce?
There are three ways to establish residency in Connecticut for filing a divorce. Only one spouse needs to meet the residency requirement for you to file in Connecticut.
The first path to residency is when at least one spouse resides here for 12 months before filing or divorce finalization. The second path is available when one spouse lived here when they married, moved away, and then returned to live in Connecticut permanently. Finally, the final and least common path involves the breakdown of the marriage happening in Connecticut.
What Are Connecticut’s Divorce Grounds?
Grounds are the legal basis for a divorce. Connecticut offers both fault-based and no-fault grounds for divorce. The no-fault ground is known as the “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage,” which means the marriage has broken down beyond repair. This is by far the most common ground for divorce and does not require proving any specific fault or misconduct to obtain a divorce.
Steps to Filing for Divorce in Connecticut
When you work with Freed Marcroft, we’ll ask for the information needed to complete the divorce petition. While we get going on filing, you’ll meet with your lead paralegal for your Discovery Kickoff Conference. Together you’ll make a plan for gathering additional background documents that will work best for you.
When you reach a full settlement on all issues in your case and go to court for the uncontested hearing, you’ll go over the details of the agreement and respond to the attorney’s questions. The person who filed the divorce goes first in court. If the case involves heavy conflict, and you wind up going to a divorce trial, the person who filed for divorce will explain their side of the case first. Beyond this, there’s no advantage or disadvantage to being the spouse who filed the petition, except in some cases (like international divorce) where you can select the jurisdiction.
Consult with a Divorce Lawyer
Before initiating a divorce, consult an experienced family law attorney for advice customized to your situation and goals. At Freed Marcroft, we understand that the decision to divorce is a significant and personal one. Therefore, we offer pre-divorce planning services to help you make informed choices that align with your circumstances.
Decide Your Divorce Approach
Litigation is the default for divorce in Connecticut. However, you and your spouse can agree to participate in one of the Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”) divorce methods. They include mediation and collaborative divorce.
Read: ADR & Divorce
Prepare Initial Documents
To initiate a divorce in Connecticut, you or your attorney must, at a minimum, serve and file a “Summons,” “Complaint,” and “Notice of Automatic Orders.” Generally speaking, these documents explain how you meet the residency requirement, some basic facts about your marriage, the grounds for divorce, and flag requests related to custody, child support, property division, and alimony. We sometimes include other documents, such as pendent lite motions, depending on your situation.
Serve and File the Divorce Papers
You’ll file for divorce in the town where you or your spouse live. In many places in Connecticut, you might have multiple choices for which courthouse you can file in; with even more options if you and your spouse are living separately in different towns. In the initial strategy session with our clients, we can help select a courthouse that might help facilitate your goals, with considerations like:
- What you want in the divorce
- How quickly you hope it will proceed
- The amount of conflict you are expecting
- The number of times we think you might be in court
- How much acrimony exists between the two spouses
Our years of experience mean we’re familiar with all the family and divorce courthouses in the state. There are some courthouses that might facilitate your goals better than others because of how busy they are or local practice.
In addition, there are the jurisdictional issues when the two spouses live in different states, which a family lawyer can untangle for you. We also facilitate a lot of complex international divorce at Freed Marcroft but state laws make it easy to file for divorce no matter where your spouse lives.
Responding to the Divorce Summons and Complaint
The spouse who is served with divorce papers should respond by the deadline. Then, depending on the situation, your lawyer may recommend filing an appearance, an answer, and a cross-complaint.
Financial Affidavits and Discovery
Connecticut requires divorcing spouses to submit financial affidavits. In most cases, the parties exchange additional information. This is called “discovery.”
Address Any Urgent Issues
Each divorce is different, and sometimes there are urgent issues to resolve while the divorce is pending. Sometimes attorneys negotiate resolutions; in other cases, there is a hearing before a judge.
Negotiations and Settlement
Most divorces resolve thanks to negotiations between the parties or their attorneys. In those cases, the negotiations lead to a settlement agreement. We then submit the settlement agreement to the court for review. If approved, the court can order the divorce.
Read: Settlement & Divorce
Finalize Your Divorce
There are two significant ways to finalize a divorce — with or without an agreement. First, suppose you do not resolve all of the issues in your divorce via settlement (alimony, property division, custody, and child support). In that case, you’ll proceed to a contested divorce trial. If you do, you may head to an uncontested hearing or be eligible to get divorced without going to court.
Read: What Is a Divorce Trial?
How Long Does the Divorce Take in Connecticut?
The length of a Connecticut divorce in Connecticut varies based on a few factors, including the complexity of the case, court availability, and the two spouses’ ability and willingness to cooperate and reach agreements. This leads to a pretty extensive range when it comes to the average timeline of a divorce. For example, on average, we’ve found that most of our divorces take between four and eighteen months.
Connect With a Connecticut Attorney When Filing for Divorce
Serving the divorce papers is just the first step but you’ll be in a better position if you have an idea of how you want your divorce to proceed. Call the team at Freed Marcroft and schedule your first step – the Goals & Planning Conference. We’ll make it easy to file for divorce in Connecticut.