A Guide to Filing for Divorce in Connecticut
To give you the best chance at a fair outcome for your divorce, you need to understand the rules and processes that will govern your case in Connecticut. Many of these issues are common to all cases in the state and knowing what they are will give you a higher degree of confidence as you work through them.
Here are some important things to know when filing for divorce in Connecticut:
- Gathering Information
- Divorce Process Options
- Fill Out the Necessary Forms
- File Your Documents
- Serving Your Documents
- Connecticut Divorce FAQs
Gather important financial information
You can set the tone for how your divorce will proceed from the outset if you approach the task of gathering information the right way. Doing so can save you time, money and stress in the long haul.
You’ll also give yourself the best possible chance at the most favorable outcome if your documents are in order. Starting early and being organized are keys to successfully completing this task.
What are your options for divorce?
It is in your best interests to fully understand all of your options when you are thinking about getting a divorce. The path that you ultimately take will be determined by the relationship you have with your spouse.
Deciding whether to pursue an uncontested divorce in Connecticut or attempting to negotiate a settlement through a cooperative effort of some sort could save you a lot time and money, making it easier for you to transition to life as a single person.
Here are the types of divorce:
What I like to call the kitchen table divorce. This one is pretty straight forward. You don’t hire any professionals and attempt to resolve all your differences with your spouse. The biggest downside is you don’t know what you don’t know. I’d steer clear of this approach unless you don’t have kids or any money.
A far superior choice to DIY divorce. Navigating the divorce process and legal procedures can be a minefield. A good online divorce platform removes the guesswork. Through guided interviews, you’ll complete the forms while getting educated on the key legal issues in the process. This can be a great option if you have a relatively straightforward situation and you’re on the same page with your spouse.
The default option and also the most expensive. If you and your spouse can’t agree on one of the other options, then you’re headed for litigation. Litigation is an attorney-driven process. While the majority of cases settle before going to trial, that doesn’t mean litigation won’t wreak havoc on you and your kids.
Sometimes, however, it’s the only viable option. If your spouse has a high-conflict personality (narcissist, borderline, etc.) or there is domestic violence, litigation might be your only option. It’s also the right choice if your primary objective is to punish your spouse. As tempting as that might be, I encourage you to think about the big picture.
With mediation, you and your spouse retain a neutral professional (typically an attorney) to help facilitate agreement. The mediator will help you brainstorm options, understand each other’s perspectives, and make compromises to reach a resolution that you and your spouse can both live with.
Contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t just mean that you and your spouse are going to work out your divorce “collaboratively.” There’s much more to it. Collaborative divorce is a structured process that takes a team approach. Divorce is much more than a legal process. It’s about money, kids, and emotions.
That’s why a Collaborative team includes collaborative lawyers, a divorce coach, and a neutral financial specialist. Unlike any other process, everyone commits not to go to court. The idea is that this removes the threat of litigation which fosters creative solutions and interest-based negotiation. It’s far and away the most supportive type of divorce.
Read More: What are the Types of Divorce.
Fill Out the Necessary Forms
After you decide what kind of divorce you will pursue, you need to fill out several forms and submit to the court. The exact forms you’ll need to complete will vary to some degree based on the individual elements of your divorce, but at a minimum you’ll need to complete the following:
Summons. A summons is the legal notice that will be delivered to your spouse to officially notify them you are filing for divorce. After a spouse receives a summons, they need to file an Appearance form which is how they will respond to the divorce action. If your spouse fails to file the form, they will not receive critical information related to the divorce going forward and this will slow down the entire process.
Divorce Complaint. This is the nuts and bolts detailed document that tells the court what you want from the divorce. You can request an end to the marriage, request alimony and child support, ask for custody and visitation issues to be resolved with your children, and request how assets and debts should be divided, among other things. A spouse who responds to this document and challenges the things you ask for will need to file a cross complaint.
Notice of Automatic Court Orders. This document is protective in nature and sets the ground rules that you and your spouse must adhere to while a divorce is in progress. In may include things such as custody, temporary child and spousal support or other important life issues that need to remain in place while the divorce is in motion.
File Your Documents
After you have completed the initial paperwork, you must files those documents at the county court facility where you live. The documents will need to be signed in front of the clerk of the court who will act as a witness. You will be given copies after you pay your filing fee. These will then be served on your spouse.
Serving Your Spouse With Divorce Papers
After your documents have been filed with the court, you must serve your spouse with a copy to make them legally aware of your intentions.
In Connecticut, a state marshal will serve the paperwork on your spouse in the judicial district where your spouse lives or works. The clerk of the court will give you instructions on how to contact the marshal. You will then give the marshal’s office your documents and pay a $50 service fee.
After the marshal serves your spouse, they will file a Return of Service as proof that this action was completed. Either you or the marshal will then file this document with the court, but keep in mind the service does not become official until the courts are notified that the service has been completed. After service, your spouse will have 30 days to respond and file a cross complaint.
If your spouse can’t be located after repeated attempts, it may be possible to have them served by publication. This is done by running a legal notice in a publication as a means of satisfying this requirement.
Frequently Asked Questions About Filing for Divorce in Connecticut
How much does it cost to file for a divorce in Connecticut?
To file for a divorce in Connecticut, you will need to pay a $350 filing fee, a $50 fee for having the court papers served, and if you have children, you’ll also need to pay $125 for a mandatory parenting education class.
If you can’t find your spouse and must complete service by publication, you will need to pay an additional $350 to publish the divorce notice in a local publication.
Can divorce fees be waived in Connecticut?
If you can’t afford to pay the court fees, you can request that they be waived by completing an Application for Waiver of Fees and submitting it to the court. This request will be reviewed by a judge who will decide if you have to pay fees or not.
Can I file for a divorce online in Connecticut?
To expedite the process, you can complete many forms by trading emails back and forth with a private attorney or a document preparation service, but ultimately you will need to print them out and file them in person at the appropriate county courthouse.
Our favorite resource for a fast and effective online divorce is: 3 Step Divorce.
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How long does it take to get a divorce in Connecticut?
There is a mandatory 90-day waiting period in Connecticut after you start your divorce action and before you can get a final judgment.
If you are able to reach agreement with your spouse on all issues during that period, complete a Dissolution Agreement Form and submit it to the court. This will help expedite a final settlement and approval.
Sometimes the 90-day waiting period can be waived. In “non-adversarial” divorces, where the terms of the divorce are uncontested. Both spouses must meet the following conditions:
- Be married less than 8 years
- Do not have any children together
- Neither spouse is pregnant
- Do not own a home (any interest or title in real property)
- Do not have a traditional pension (defined benefit plan)
- Are not applying for or receiving Medicaid benefits
- Have a total property value that is less than $35,000
- Do not have a civil restraining order currently in effect between the spouses.
For a more in-depth look at how long divorce can take, make sure you look at our article, How Long Does Divorce Take?
What are the residency requirements to file for a divorce in Connecticut?
To file for divorce in Connecticut, at least one of the spouses must have been a resident in the state for at least 12 months prior to filing initial paperwork.
Residency can also be satisfied if one of the parties was living in this state at the time of the marriage and returned to Connecticut with the intention of permanently remaining before the filing of the complaint.
Can I file for divorce in Connecticut without using a lawyer?
Yes. If your divorce is uncontested and you agree on all settlement issues, you can file for an uncontested divorce on your own in Connecticut. If you agree on all issues, you can file a Dissolution Agreement Form that will help expedite your divorce.
Can I get a divorce in Connecticut if I am pregnant?
You cannot be stopped from seeking a divorce if you are pregnant but waiting until your baby is born may make it easier to determine child support and custody issues.
How is my divorce affected if I am a member of the military in Connecticut?
When one or both spouses are in the military, divorces follow several of the same procedures as civilian divorces in Connecticut. But there are also some notable differences.
Military divorce laws allow service members and their spouses to file for divorce in:
- The state where the nonmilitary spouse resides
- The state where the service member is currently stationed
- The state where the service member claims legal residency
Under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, active military members are protected from default judgements while on active duty. This protection was put in place because no servicemember should be distracted by legal issues such as a divorce while actively serving in another state or country. However, a servicemember may choose to waive delaying the divorce by signing off on paperwork that allows the divorce to proceed uncontested.
Child and spousal support awards may not exceed 60% of a servicemembers pay and allowances.
How debts, assets and retirement benefits are divided is governed by the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act. A key element is that the former spouse must have been married to the former servicemember for a minimum of 10 years while the military member has served on active duty. However, normal Connecticut property division laws are used to determine who gets which assets.
A former spouse who has not remarried may receive medical, commissary, exchange and theater privileges under the Morale, Welfare and Recreation program if he or she meets the requirements of what is known as the 20/20/20 rule:
- The former spouse was married to the military member for at least 20 years at the time of the divorce, dissolution or annulment.
- The military member has performed at least 20 years of service that is creditable in determining eligibility for retired pay (the member does not have to be retired from active duty).
- The former spouse was married to the member during at least 20 years of the member’s retirement-creditable service.
Former spouses may also be entitled to TRICARE medical coverage if he or she meets certain requirements as well.
Looking for more great tips about filing for divorce? Check out a few of our favorite resources:
- How to File for Divorce
- How Should I Prepare for Divorce
- What Are The Types of Divorce
- How Should I Prepare for Divorce