How to Get a Divorce

  •   |   Meghan Freed

square with "How to Get a Divorce, Your Guide" written on a background from Freed Marcroft divorce and family law attorneys.When people ask about “How to get a divorce?” they often want to know the practical steps and considerations involved in the divorce process.  In this blog post, we provide a straightforward and clear guide to help you understand how to get a divorce in Connecticut.

Residency Requirements

You can establish residence in Connecticut in three different ways. First, they only require one of the two spouses to meet the residency requirement.  The most common way people meet the Connecticut residence requirement is when one spouse lives in Connecticut for at least 12 consecutive months before filing the divorce.

Read: Connecticut Residency Requirements

Read: Requirements for Divorce in Connecticut

Grounds for Divorce in CT

Connecticut has both “no-fault” and “fault” grounds for divorce. However, no-fault grounds are far and away more common than fault grounds.

Read: What Are the Grounds for Divorce in Connecticut?

Length of Divorce

Divorces at Freed Marcroft typically range from 4 to 18 months on average.  When couples can reach agreements outside of court, the process tends to be quicker.  Conversely, divorces with more disagreement tend to take longer due to the additional time spent waiting for and in divorce court hearings. It’s also worthy of note that cases with complicated assets or parenting situations may have longer timelines — even when you reach agreements — as both parties and their lawyers get their arms around things during discovery.  Certain Connecticut family courts also tend to have longer turnaround times than others.

Read: How Long Does a Divorce Take in Connecticut?

Read: Timeline of a Connecticut Divorce

Legal Representation

Connecticut does not require you to retain a lawyer for your divorce; you can represent yourself.  However, if you’re serious about your divorce and its impact on your future, you’ll want to have an attorney who knows the ins and outs by your side.

Read: A Divorce Lawyer’s Top Tips About How to Choose a Divorce Lawyer

Read: 4 Things to Know Before Hiring a CT Divorce Attorney

Read: When Should You Hire a Divorce Attorney?

Litigation, Mediation, and Collaborative Divorce

Litigation is Connecticut’s default for divorce.  Litigation just means taking action via the court — there are more low-conflict litigations than high-conflict ones.  That said, spouses can agree to select a litigation alternative to work through the issues in their divorce outside of court.  This is why collaborative law and mediation are forms of “alternative dispute resolution” or “ADR.” They provide you with options to resolve your divorce other than litigation.

Read: Mediation, Collaboration, or Litigation

Read: ADR & Divorce

Serving the Divorce Papers

Divorces are lawsuits, so they have a plaintiff spouse and a defendant spouse.  A State Marshal usually serves the defendant with the divorce papers. However, it’s also possible for the defendant to agree to formally “waive” service or for their attorney to accept service on their behalf.

Read: How to Serve Divorce Papers in Connecticut

Filing the Divorce Petition

After the marshal completes service, you (or your lawyer) file everything with the court.  Connecticut has many family courthouses; depending on where you live, you may choose between more than one courthouse.

Read: How to File for Divorce

Division of Assets and Debts

Property division is one of the significant financial decisions in a divorce.  The Court has the authority to divide all of your assets and debts, regardless of whose name they are in or whether they we acquired pre- or post-marriage.  Connecticut considers several factors and divides assets and debts “equitably,” — which does not necessarily mean 50/50.

Most often, spouses ultimately agree on how to divide assets and debts. However, in the absence of an agreement, a Judge decides.

Read: Property Division: The Comprehensive Connecticut Guide

Alimony and Spousal Support

There isn’t an alimony award in all Connecticut cases. Instead, based on a series of factors, the court determines whether there will be alimony and, if so, how much and for how long.  If the parties cannot negotiate a resolution regarding alimony, the Court will weigh the factors and rule.

Read: Alimony: The Comprehensive Connecticut Guide

Child Custody and Support

The Connecticut standard to determine child custody and parenting is “the child’s best interests.” In addition, guidelines exist for calculating child support, though in some cases, the Court deviates and issues a different child support award.

Read: CT Custody Laws

Read: What Is Child Support?

Negotiating Settlements

The vast majority of cases resolve without a divorce trial.  That means that negotiations lead to a settlement.  In other words, the spouses could reach agreements that resolve all of the issues in their case.  The spouses may have reached agreements by negotiating independently, through or with their attorneys, with assistance from neutral third parties like mediators and family relations officers, or a combination.

Regardless of how the spouses reached the resolution, their lawyers then submit that settlement agreement to the court and request that it become a binding court order.

Read: Settlement & Divorce

Read: Can I Get a Divorce Without Going to Court?

Preparing for Trial

In many divorce litigations, your lawyer will be preparing for trial and, at the same time, working to settle your case.  Trial preparation often aids settlement efforts in addition to getting your case ready to go before a judge.

Read: Don’t Mistake Truth for Weakness; It’s Strength

Read: What Is a Divorce Trial?

Finalizing the Divorce

Whether they are resolved by settlement or a court, once all the issues in your case are decided, the court can formally dissolve your marriage and declare you divorced.

Read: Divorce Information and Facts

Post-Divorce Issues

You may want to enforce or modify your divorce orders down the line. But, again, there are mechanisms to ask the court to assist with these post-judgment issues.

Read: How Do You Enforce a Divorce Court Order?

Read: What is a Motion for Modification?

Next Steps

If you have questions about divorce in Connecticut, contact Freed Marcroft to discuss your options.

Freed Marcroft LLC

Freed Marcroft LLC