Connecticut Divorce Law

Divorce – State Law Summary – Connecticut

Notes:  This summary is not intended to be an all-inclusive summary of the laws of divorce in the State of Connecticut, but does contain basic and other procedures.

Grounds for divorce
A decree of dissolution of marriage shall be granted upon a finding that:
1.  The marriage has broken down irretrievably;
2.  The parties have lived apart due to incompatibility for eighteen months with no reasonable prospect of reconciliation;
3.  Adultery;
4.  Fraudulent contract;
5.  Willful desertion for one year with total neglect of duty;
6.  Seven years absence with no contact;
7.  Habitual intemperance;
8.  Intolerable cruelty;
9.  Sentence to life imprisonment or conviction of infamous crime involving violation of conjugal duty punishable by more than one year in prison;
10. Legal confinement in mental institution for five years within the six years prior to filing.  CGSA 46b-40

Waiting period
There is a ninety day waiting period from the date of return on the complaint for dissolution before the court will hear and grant a dissolution of marriage.  CGSA 46b-67

Residency requirements
A complaint for dissolution of marriage may be filed at any time after either spouse has established residency with the State of Connecticut.  A decree of dissolution of marriage will not be issued by the court however, until:
1.  At least one of the parties to the marriage has been a resident of the state for one year prior to the filing of the complaint of the date of the decree, or;
2.  One of the parties was domiciled in the state at the time of marriage and returned to the state with the intention of remaining indefinitely prior to the filing of the complaint, or;
3.  The cause of the divorce arose after either party moved to the state.  CGSA 46b-45

Name of court and title of action/parties
An action for dissolution of marriage in the State of Connecticut is filed in the Superior Court.  The title of the action initiating dissolution of marriage proceeding is called a Complaint for Dissolution of Marriage, while the title of the action granting the dissolution of marriage is referred ot as the Decree of Dissolution of Marriage.  The party filing the action for dissolution of marriage is called the Plaintiff, while the other party is referred to as the DefendantCGSA 46b-42

Simplified divorce proceeding
The court may grant a request for dissolution of marriage if:
1.  The parties execute a written stipulation that the marriage has broken down irretrievably, or;
2.  The parties appear in court and stipulate that the marriage has broken down irretrievalby and the parties have submitted an agreement covering all issues regarding the custody, care, education, visitation and support of any minor children and all issues relating to alimony and division of property.  CGSA 46b-51

Legal separation
A decree of legal separation will be granted in the State of Connecticut for the same grounds as a decree of dissolution of marriage.  CGSA 46b-40

Conciliation/mediation
On or after the return day of a complaint for dissolution of marriage and prior to the expiration of the ninety day waiting period before the issuance of a decree of dissolution, either party may request conciliation for the purpose of exploring reconciliation or resolving conflicts which might continue after the granting of a decree of dissolution.  Conciliation requires a mandatory two session consultation with a professional regarding the issues of reconciliation or conflict resolution.
Mediation may also be ordered by the court to resolve such things as property, financial, child custody and visitation issues.
CGSA 46b-53, 46b-53a

Alimony
Alimony may be awarded to either spouse in the State of Connecticut after consideration of the following factors:
1.  The length of the marriage;
2.  The cause of the dissolution, annulment or separation;
3.  The age, health, and station of each party;
4.  The occupation, amount and source of income of each party;
5.  The vocational skills and employability of each party;
6.  The estate and needs of each of the parties;
7.  The desirability of a custodial parent obtaining employment. CGSA 46b-82

Distribution of property
Connecticut is an equitable distribution state, which means that after setting aside to each spouse that spouse’s separate property, the court shall divide the marital property between the parties as it deems equitable and just, after consideration of the following factors:
1.  The length of the marriage;
2.  The cause of the dissolution, annulment or separation;
3.  The age, health and station of each party;
4.  The occupation, amount and source of income of each party;
5.  The vocational skills and employability of each party;
6.  The estate, liabilities and needs of each of the parties;
7.  The opportunity of each party for future acquisition of capital, assets and income;
8.  The contribution of each party to the acquisition, preservation or appreciation of each party’s estate.  CGSA 46b-81

Child Custody
The court will consider the best interests of the child in determining issues relating to custody of minor children.  There is a presumption that joint custody is in the child’s best interests.  If the child is of sufficient age and is capable of forming intelligent preferences, the court shall consider the child’s wishes as to custodial arrangements.  The court may also take into account the causes of the dissolution if such causes are relevant.  The non-custodial parent shall not be denied access to the academic, medical or other records of the child, unless otherwise ordered by the court.  CGSA 46b-56

Parenting Education Program: A parenting education program designed to educate persons, including unmarried parents, on the impact on children of the restructuring of families is required of parties to a divorce action involving minor children unless:

(a) The parties agree, subject to the approval of the court, not to participate in such program,
(b) The court determines that participation is not deemed necessary or
(c) The parties select and participate in a comparable parenting education program.

The course shall include, but not be limited to, information on the developmental stages of children, adjustment of children to parental separation, dispute resolution and conflict management, guidelines for visitation, stress reduction in children and cooperative parenting.  No party shall be required to participate in such program more than once. A party shall be deemed to have satisfactorily completed such program upon certification by the service provider of the program.

Child support
Either parent may be ordered to pay child support after consideration of the following factors:
1.  The age, health, station, occupation, earning capacity, amount and sources of income, estate vocational skills and employability of each of the parents, and;
2.  The age health, station, occupation, educational status and expectation, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate and needs of the child.

Connecticut has enacted child support guidelines which establish the presumptively correct amount of child support to be paid.  Any deviation from the guidelines must be accompanied by a written finding that the application of the guidelines would be inequitable or inappropriate in the particular case.  CGSA 46b-84, 46b-215b

Name change
The court, upon request, may change the name of either spouse to that spouse’s former or maiden name.  CGSA 46b-63

Grandparent visitation
The court may grant visitation of a child to any person, upon a finding that such visitation would be in the child’s best interests. CGSA 46b-59


Inside Connecticut Divorce Law