Obtaining a divorce in Connecticut involves following a certain set of procedures and rules, filing the proper papers and appearing in court. While you may or may not need an attorney to make sure every aspect of this process is done right, unless you and your spouse agree on all the issues to be decided in your divorce, like the distribution of property and custody of the children, then you will definitely want the assistance of qualified and experienced family law attorneys. The decisions made in a divorce can affect you and your family for the rest of your life. Let the Connecticut divorce lawyers at The Upton Law Firm provide the advice and representation necessary to make sure it gets done right.
Connecticut Divorce Process
The Connecticut divorce process begins with one party filing a divorce complaint with the court in the judicial district where one of the spouses lives. In order to meet residency requirements, at least one of the spouses must have lived in (been domiciled in) Connecticut continuously for twelve months prior to the date of the final judgment of the divorce. Talk to an attorney if you are concerned about meeting the residency requirement or have questions about maintaining your domicile (The Upton Law Firm offers a free initial consultation on your divorce case).
The complaint must specify the grounds for dissolution of the marriage. Connecticut divorce law contains many fault-based grounds, such as adultery, abandonment, and abuse, as well as the no-fault ground that the marriage has broken down and is irretrievable. Most divorces are no-fault divorces these days, but if fault exists and can be proven, it could play a role in issues such as alimony or the distribution of property. Grounds for divorce is another issue to discuss with your attorney before you file your complaint.
Once the papers have been filed and served, the court issues a set of automatic orders. These are intended to maintain the status quo between the parties while issues of child custody and support, alimony and property division are sorted out. The automatic orders prohibit either party from making major purchases, sales or transfers of property; moving with the children; or making other important decisions related to marital property or the family structure.
The divorce process takes a minimum of 90 days, although even in the best of circumstances, it can take slightly longer. If there are any contested issues, the process can take several months longer, as the parties go through the process of litigating the issues, which may include the discovery process, filing and arguing motions, entering mediation, and going to trial.
Equitable Distribution of Property
The court in a Connecticut divorce is empowered to make an equitable distribution of property between the parties. The judge is not limited to only dividing marital property (property acquired during marriage) but may also redistribute a couple’s separate (pre-marital) property between them. The judge is authorized to make any distribution that is equitable, or fair. In deciding how to divide the property, the judge considers factors such as the following:
- The length of the marriage
- The causes for the dissolution
- The age, health and station of the parties
- Amount and sources of income
- Each person’s earning capacity
- Vocational skills, education and employability
- The separate estate, liabilities and needs of each of the parties
- The opportunity to acquire capital assets and income in the future
- The contribution each party made to acquiring or preserving the value of their respective estates
Alimony is not awarded automatically; one party has to request it and prove in court that an award is justified. In determining whether alimony will be awarded, and the duration and amount of any award, the court considers the same factors as when determining the property settlement. Additionally, the court will consider the property settlement itself, as well as whether it is feasible or desirable for a parent with primary custody to seek outside employment.
Alimony can be awarded to either the husband or the wife, and it can be ordered to be paid in one lump sum or through periodic payments. In some cases, the court may initially only order alimony of $1.00 per year, but that amount is modifiable by court order at a later date. Although it is possible for the judge to make a lifetime award of alimony, usually alimony is for a set period to give a non-working spouse the time to gain any education or training needed to become self-supporting. Lifetime or permanent alimony may be granted in the case of a long-term marriage where it is not feasible for the receiving spouse to become self-sufficient.
Facing Divorce? The Upton Law Firm Can Help
In every aspect of the divorce proceeding, either the parties must come to an agreement, or the issue must be decided in court after a hearing. The family law attorneys at The Upton Law Firm help parties through simple, non-adversarial divorces, and also help them negotiate an agreement on issues such as alimony and the division of property. Where agreement cannot be reached, our Connecticut divorce lawyers provide strong and effective advocacy in court to protect our clients rights and interests. If you are considering divorce in Connecticut, or if you have been served with a summons and complaint by your spouse, contact The Upton Law Firm for a free consultation.