The Connecticut Divorce Process

By Joseph Nicholson
The Connecticut Divorce Process

Grounds and Jurisdiction

There are several ways to demonstrate that a divorce can legally be dissolved in the state of Connecticut. The marriage didn't even have to occur in the state. The minimum requirement is that one of the spouses be a legal resident of the state for the year before the final dissolution. Alternatively, if one of the spouses is a Connecticut resident at the time of the marriage and has returned with the intention of staying, or if the grounds for the divorce occurred in Connecticut, this can also establish jurisdiction of the state courts. If Connecticut is a viable venue for the divorce, the grounds for divorce include irretrievable breakdown, separation for 18 months, adultery, willful desertion, seven years' absence, substance abuse, intolerable cruelty, imprisonment for life, infamous crime and legal confinement because of mental illness. Absent any of these conditions, the state also offers no-fault divorces.

The Petition and Objections

The divorce process in Connecticut begins with the filing of a petition at the local state courthouse. This is a form document that specifies, in addition to the grounds for the divorce, how the filing spouse would like to handle issues such as division of property, child custody and alimony. With the petition, a summons must also be filed. A copy of this summons must be served on the other spouse, with supporting documents listing the jointly owned property of the couple, its income, debts and other obligations. After proof of service is filed with the court, a 90-day "cooling off period" ensues during which no other action can be taken. The spouse who received the summons must respond to the petition by the date specified in the petition. That response can either be consent to the divorce, an objection to the grounds or an objection to the terms. If the spouse cannot be located, the court will probably require notice of the divorce published in local periodicals before the proceedings can continue.

The Divorce Agreement and Final Dissolution

Contesting a divorce is usually futile because of the no-fault option. But if the spouse agrees to the divorce but contests the terms, the court can either intervene or allow the parties to negotiate. When it comes to property distribution, the court prefers to establish roughly the pre-marital financial state of the couple to the degree possible. If the marriage lasted more than a few years, the court will recommend a more or less even split of the property. For child custody, the court will consider the best interests of the child and award alimony as it sees fit. Whether the exact terms of the divorce are determined by the court or by negotiation between the parties, the final decision is codified in a formal divorce agreement. This is filed with the court, who will then issue a judgment making the divorce final and official.

About the Author

Joseph Nicholson is an independent analyst whose publishing achievements include a cover feature for "Futures Magazine" and a recurring column in the monthly newsletter of a private mint. He received a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Florida and is currently attending law school in San Francisco.