Responding to a Divorce in Connecticut

  •   |   Meghan Freed

For a divorce to begin, one spouse must file a petition with a local divorce court.  If your spouse files a divorce petition, Connecticut requires that you receive a copy. An experienced divorce attorney can help you respond to the divorce. The Freed Marcroft team has years of experience in family law, and can advise you on how a divorce works and your role.

The Role of the Responding Spouse

When your spouse initiates the divorce action, Connecticut requires you to respond.  If you don’t, the divorce court may simply order what your spouse requests. Freed Marcroft guides you through that situation and takes care of most responses, while you focus on your goals for your future.

One significance of being the one responding to divorce is that you’re likely to go second in court.  Some divorcing couples never have to step foot in a family courtroom.  For example, in many Connecticut divorces, the judge orders the marriage dissolved after reviewing the written agreement the spouses’ attorneys filed.  Other divorces most commonly end in an uncontested hearing.  If that’s how your divorce concludes, your spouse will likely answer the lawyer or the judge’s questions first, and you’ll go after. You’ll also present your case second if your divorce goes to a full trial. This isn’t an inherent advantage or disadvantage, but understanding what to expect in court is integral to managing your emotions and stress during a divorce.

Being Served Divorce Papers

When someone files for divorce in Connecticut, the recipient will receive paperwork in one of two ways. If the spouses have been discussing divorce in advance, and both have retained a lawyer, that paperwork is often served upon the lawyer’s office. The technical term for this is a “waiver of service.” Through their attorney, the recipient will waive the technical requirement that a marshal serves the spouse themselves with the divorce papers.  This allows the attorney to handle it on their behalf. For many, this is preferable because it’s not as upsetting as the idea of an in-person service and feels like a less acrimonious start to the divorce.

In many other cases, the recipient may know the divorce is coming, but they haven’t retained a lawyer who can receive the paperwork on their behalf. This means a marshal will serve them with the divorce paperwork.  In many cases, that’s what prompts them to retain an attorney of their own.

What if the Spouse Doesn’t Want to Respond?

In some situations, one person might want the divorce more than the other, and the recipient hopes they can avoid it by not responding. That doesn’t work, and they need to know they should still participate. In Connecticut, the court will eventually grant the divorce even if only one side wants it.

If the recipient doesn’t retain a lawyer and doesn’t engage in the divorce, the judge will often order what the filing spouse requested. For example, if the petitioner says they want 100 percent of the house, the divorce court may well grant that request. A lawyer can represent the recipient’s interests and push for a fair and equitable outcome in property division, child custody, and other matters.

Occasionally, the responding spouse can’t be located to serve the papers. There are ways to find a person successfully, but they’re often out of the country and “off the grid,” avoiding credit cards and social media. In cases where we can’t locate a spouse, we can eventually get the divorce approved, even if it takes a bit longer than usual.

Work With Freed Marcroft if You’re Responding to a Divorce in Connecticut

There’s nothing shameful about being the respondent in a divorce. Ultimately, in most cases, the roles of petitioner and respondent are formalities that have no bearing on how your divorce negotiations play out. When responding to a divorce in Connecticut, you should seek counsel from the Freed Marcroft team. Retain a lawyer early enough so we can receive the divorce papers on your behalf.

Posted in: Divorce

Freed Marcroft LLC

Freed Marcroft LLC