Navigating Divorce in Windham County, CT: A Comprehensive Guide
If you’re contemplating a divorce in Windham County, CT, you’re not alone. In 2019, the county recorded over 600 divorces. Whether you’re seeking a contested or uncontested divorce, there are critical steps you need to take to ensure a successful outcome. That’s why the knowledgeable team of family law attorneys at Freed Marcoft put together this comprehensive guide to navigating divorce in Windham County. From filing for divorce to addressing child custody and property division, we’ll walk you through every step of the process. We’ll also provide valuable insights into the legal system and offer insights on how to take care of yourself during the emotional aspects of divorce. With our guide, you can approach your divorce with confidence, knowing that you have the knowledge and support you need to successfully navigate your way to your new life.
Windham County Divorce Statistics
According to the Census Reporter, in 2021, 10% of men and 12% of women living in Windham County were divorced. For men, this was higher than Connecticut’s statewide average.
It’s important to note that divorce statistics can vary yearly and may not necessarily indicate the overall divorce rate in Windham County.
Windham Judicial District Court at Putnam
This court handles all Windham County divorce cases. Unsurprisingly, family lawyers often refer to it as the Windham Family Court, or the Putnam Family Court because it’s located in Putnam. Here are a few key things to know about the Windham/Putnam Family Court.
- The courthouse is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
- When you file for divorce in Windham County, you or your attorney must file your paperwork with the appropriate courthouse.
- It’s important to note that the Windham Judicial District Court is a court of equity, which means that the judge has the power to make decisions based on their view of what is fair under the circumstances.
Who Files Their Divorce in the Putnam Family Court
People from Ashford, Brooklyn, Canterbury, Chaplin, Eastford, Hampton, Killingly, Plainfield, Pomfret, Putnam, Scotland, Sterling, Thompson, Willimantic, Windham, and Woodstock file at the Windham/Putnam court.
For more information: Windham Family Court at Putnam
Understanding the Divorce Process in Windham County
Divorce can be a complicated and emotional process. Understanding the divorce process in Windham County can help you prepare and navigate through the legal system.
The first step in your divorce is to decide how to divorce. For example, you and your spouse or partner might agree to an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) approach to your divorce. In Windham County, divorce mediation is the most common followed by collaborative divorce.
That said, the majority of Windham County divorces are divorce litigations. The first step in the litigated divorce process is to serve your spouse with a petition for divorce and then file it with the court. This document outlines the reasons for the divorce and any requests for orders on property division, alimony, and, if you have children, custody, and child support. Next, the other spouse (typically through their attorney) responds to the petition with an appearance and answer.
Regardless of your divorce approach, you will exchange information and financial affidavits. In divorce litigation, this is called discovery. Many people are understandably eager to get to the other side, and want to skip or rush the discovery process and start negotiating. Speak with an experienced divorce attorney before you do this, however. A lot of post-judgment litigation arises because spouses didn’t fully investigate and understand the foundation or impact of the decisions they made during the divorce.
Once you have your arms around what you need to know, negotiations begin on the terms of the divorce. When spouses come to an agreement, we submit the written agreement to the court for review and approval. In Windham County, CT, this is called an “uncontested divorce.” Note that you can reach an uncontested divorce via litigation or ADR. If the spouses cannot come to an agreement, the case proceeds to a divorce trial where a judge decides.
Grounds for Divorce in Windham County
In Windham County, there are two types of grounds for divorce: fault and no-fault. The vast majority of divorces in Windham County, Connecticut are no-fault grounds. This is because for fault grounds require the plaintiff to prove the alleged ground in order for the court to have the authority to dissolve the marriage. This is expensive, time-consuming, and can result in your still being married at the end of the divorce.
It’s important to note that it’s relatively rare in Windham County, but even in a no-fault divorce, the cause of the marriage’s breakdown can impact the outcome of the divorce. For example, if one spouse spent marital resources financially supporting a new romantic partner, the judge may reduce their share of the marital assets. This is highly case-specific, so you should speak with an experienced Windham County divorce lawyer to get their take on your situation.
Windham County Divorce Mediation
The most popular form of divorce ADR in Windham County is mediation. Divorce mediation is a non-adversarial process in which a neutral third party assists the spouses in reaching an agreement. In Windham County, mediation is often used to resolve custody, visitation, and financial issues. The mediator does not make decisions for the parties but instead helps them communicate and negotiate to reach a mutually acceptable agreement.
While Windham County Divorce Mediators are often attorneys, a mediator does not represent either spouse. Instead, they should retain their own separate divorce attorneys to help make sure they fully understand the agreement they reached during mediation, and that it is in their best interests.
Collaborative Divorce in Windham County
Collaborative divorce is gaining popularity in Windham County. As with mediation, in a collaborative divorce, the parties agree to work together to reach an agreement without going to court. A collaboratively-trained divorce attorney represents each party, and they may also work with other professionals such as financial planners or mental health professionals. A difference between mediation and collaborative divorce is that collaborative attorneys stay with their clients during collaborative sessions.
Both mediation and collaborative divorce are designed to support the spouses in reaching an agreement outside of court, keeping control over the divorce’s outcomes with the two spouses.
Litigated Divorce in Windham County
Litigated divorce is the traditional method of divorce, and the most common approach in Windham County. In a litigated divorce, the case is resolved through the court system. Litigated divorce can be relatively straightforward or a lengthy and expensive process — it all depends on whether the spouses reach an agreement.
If you’re considering litigated divorce, it’s important to choose an attorney who is experienced in family law and litigation in Windham County. For example, Freed Marcroft’s attorneys practice litigation, collaborative divorce, and mediation so that we can meet our clients where they are.
Read: Settlement & Divorce
Decisions Made in Windham County Divorces
In all Connecticut divorces, including those in Connecticut, in order to get divorced, you need to resolve property division and alimony (even when the decision is that there won’t be any alimony). If you and your spouse have minor children, you also need to decide how to handle child support and custody. When you and your spouse reach an agreement, a Windham County judge will review that agreement. If you don’t, a judge will decide for you.
Child Custody and Support
In Windham County, the court considers the best interests of the child when making child custody and support decisions.
In Connecticut, there are two main types of custody: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody refers to the right to make major decisions regarding the child, such as education and medical care.
Child support is largely determined based on the parent’s income and number of children, and also needs to be in the child’s best interests. In Connecticut, child support continues until the child reaches the age of 18 or graduates from high school, whichever comes later.
Division of Marital Assets
Marital assets are divided based on the principle of equitable distribution in Windham County. In other words, assets are divided fairly, but not necessarily equally.
Marital assets may include real estate, bank accounts, retirement accounts, and other property.
In some cases, one spouse may be required to pay alimony to the other spouse. When determining alimony in Windham County, the court considers factors such as the marriage’s length and the spouses’ ages, earning capacity, and health.
Post-Divorce Modifications in Windham County
After a divorce is finalized, it may be necessary to modify the terms of the divorce agreement. For example, if one party loses their job, they may seek to modify their child support or alimony payments.
Hiring a Divorce Lawyer in Windham County
If you’re considering divorce, it’s important to hire an experienced Windham County divorce lawyer. When? As soon as possible. For example, hiring a divorce lawyer while you are considering divorce sets you up to have a solid, smooth plan in place should you decide to move forward. If you have already initiated your divorce, the second best time to retain a family law attorney is now.
Windham County Divorce Resources
Many resources are available for people going through a divorce in Windham County, CT.