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.
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.
Read: Connecticut Divorce Residency Requirements
Read: Requirements for Divorce in CT
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.
Read: What Are the Grounds for Divorce in Connecticut?
Read: Connecticut No-Fault Divorce
Steps to File for Divorce in Connecticut
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.
Read: When Should You Hire a Divorce Attorney?
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.
Read: What Are the Automatic Orders in a Connecticut Divorce?
Serve and File the Divorce Papers
Next, we need to serve your spouse with the initial divorce papers. Generally speaking, state marshals complete service. Your divorce attorney can explain other options if they are relevant to your case. After the service is complete, we file the papers with the divorce court.
Read: How to Serve Divorce Papers in Connecticut
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.
Read: What’s an Appearance in a Divorce?
Financial Affidavits and Discovery
Connecticut requires divorcing spouses to submit financial affidavits. In most cases, the parties exchange additional information. This is called “discovery.”
Read: What Is the Financial Affidavit in a Connecticut Divorce?
Read: Discovery in Connecticut Divorces
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.
Read: What Is the Difference Between a Hearing and a Trial?
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
Read: What Is an Uncontested Hearing in Connecticut?
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: Can I Get a Divorce 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.
Read: How Long Does a Divorce Take in Connecticut?
Read: Timeline of a Connecticut Divorce
If you have additional questions about how all this might work in your situation, please contact us.