Divorce in Connecticut: everything you need to know

1 min readLast updated February 21, 2024by Unbiased team

From grounds for divorce to child custody, alimony, and more, this guide will take you through Connecticut’s divorce laws.

Summary

  • Connecticut has both “no-fault” and “for-fault” divorce.

  • The median cost of divorce in the US is $7,000, but this can fluctuate massively depending on your unique circumstances.

  • In Connecticut, both divorce and legal separation require a 90-day waiting period.

  • A financial advisor can help you navigate your finances during a divorce and rebuild afterward.

What are the different types of divorce in Connecticut?

Connecticut offers two types of divorce: no-fault and fault-based.

Need help rebuilding your finances after divorce?

A financial advisor can guide you through your financial recovery both during and after your divorce.

A no-fault divorce is based on the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, which means that the marriage has broken down beyond repair, and there is no hope of reconciliation. A no-fault divorce does not require proving any wrongdoing or blame on the part of either spouse.

A fault-based divorce requires proving one of the grounds for divorce specified by the Connecticut General Statutes, such as:

  • Adultery

  • Fraudulent contract

  • Willful desertion for one year

  • Seven years’ absence without being heard from

  • Habitual intemperance

  • Intolerable cruelty

  • Imprisonment for a crime involving moral turpitude

  • Mental illness for at least five years

A fault-based divorce may be advantageous if you want to obtain a divorce faster or if you want to influence the court’s decision on issues such as alimony, child custody, or property division.

However, a fault-based divorce may also be more costly, time-consuming, and contentious than a no-fault divorce.

How do you file for divorce in Connecticut?

To file for divorce in Connecticut, you or your spouse must have been a resident of the state for at least 12 months.

You must also file a complaint for dissolution of marriage in the judicial district where you or your spouse reside. The complaint must state the grounds for divorce, the names and ages of any children, and the relief sought, such as alimony, child support, custody, or property division.

A case management agreement must also be filed. This outlines the steps and deadlines for resolving the divorce and a financial affidavit, which discloses your income, expenses, assets, and liabilities. You must also pay a filing fee, which is $350 as of 2021.

You must also serve the other party with a copy of the complaint and a summons, which notifies them of the divorce action and the date of the first court appearance. You can serve the other party by hiring a state marshal, by having someone over the age of 18 deliver the papers, or by having the other party sign an acceptance of service form.

The other party has 30 days to file an appearance, which acknowledges their participation in the divorce, and an answer, which responds to the allegations and requests in the complaint. The other party may also file a cross-complaint, which raises their own grounds and claims for divorce.

How much does a divorce cost in Connecticut?

According to a 2020 survey by Martindale-Nolo, the average cost of divorce in Connecticut is about $15,500, including $12,800 in attorney’s fees.

The average cost of divorce with children is about $21,000, while the average cost of divorce without children is about $11,700.

The survey found that the average hourly rate of a divorce lawyer in Connecticut is $325.

The cost of divorce can also include other expenses, such as court fees, mediation fees, expert fees, and taxes.

You may be able to reduce the cost of divorce by reaching a settlement with your spouse, by using alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation or arbitration, or by representing yourself in an uncontested divorce.

However, representing yourself in a divorce may not be advisable if you have a high net worth, a complex financial situation, or a contentious relationship with your spouse.

You may also need legal advice on issues such as alimony and child support.

How do you split assets in a divorce in Connecticut?

How to split assets in a divorce depends on whether you have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement and whether you can reach a settlement with your spouse.

If you have a valid and enforceable agreement, the court will generally follow its terms unless they are unconscionable or violate public policy.

If you do not have an agreement, or if you cannot agree on how to divide your assets, the court will divide your marital property according to the principle of equitable distribution. Equitable distribution means a fair but not necessarily equal division based on various factors, such as:

  • The length of the marriage

  • The causes of the breakdown of the marriage

  • The age, health, income, occupation, skills, employability, and needs of each spouse

  • The sources, amount, and nature of the property

  • The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition, preservation, or appreciation of the property

  • The contribution of each spouse to the education, training, or earning capacity of the other spouse

  • The standard of living established during the marriage

  • The custodial and financial responsibilities for the children

  • The tax consequences of the property division

Marital property includes all the assets and debts acquired by either spouse during the marriage, regardless of whose name they are in, such as real estate, vehicles, bank accounts, investments, retirement accounts, pensions, businesses, furniture, jewelry, and debts.

Separate property includes the assets and debts owned by either spouse before the marriage or acquired by inheritance or gift during the marriage.

What is alimony, and how does it work in Connecticut?

Alimony is a payment that one spouse makes to the other spouse to provide financial support after a divorce. The purpose of alimony is to help the recipient spouse maintain a reasonable standard of living and to assist them in becoming financially independent if possible.

Connecticut offers three types of alimony: temporary, rehabilitative, and permanent.

1.      Temporary alimony is granted during the divorce process to help the recipient spouse meet their living expenses until the final judgment.

2.      Rehabilitative alimony is granted for a limited period of time to help the recipient spouse obtain education, training, or employment to become self-sufficient.

3.      Permanent alimony is granted for an indefinite time, usually until the death or remarriage of either spouse or until a significant change in circumstances.

The court decides the amount and duration of alimony based on various factors, such as:

  • The length of the marriage

  • The income and earning capacity of each spouse

  • The age and health of each spouse

  • The causes of the breakdown of the marriage

  • The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition, preservation, or appreciation of the marital property

  • The contribution of each spouse to the education, training, or earning capacity of the other spouse

  • The needs and obligations of each spouse

  • The standard of living established during the marriage

  • The tax consequences of the alimony award

Alimony can also be agreed upon by the spouses through mediation, negotiation, or collaborative divorce, which are alternative dispute resolution methods that allow the spouses to work together to reach a mutually acceptable settlement. This can save time, money, and stress and give the spouses more control over the outcome.

What is child custody, and how does it work in Connecticut?

Child custody is the legal right and responsibility to make decisions and care for the children after a divorce. Child custody can be divided into two types: legal and physical.

Legal custody is the authority to make major decisions regarding the child’s education, health, religion, and welfare.

Physical custody is the actual physical care and supervision of the child.

Child custody can also be classified as joint or sole. Joint custody means that both parents share the legal and physical custody of the child. Sole custody means that one parent has exclusive legal and physical custody of the child while the other parent has visitation rights.

The best interests of the child are the primary consideration in determining child custody. The court will consider factors such as:

  • The wishes of the child and the parents, if the child is old enough and mature enough to express a preference

  • The relationship of the child with each parent and other family members

  • The stability and continuity of the child’s environment

  • The ability and willingness of each parent to cooperate and communicate with the other parent

  • The ability and willingness of each parent to foster a positive relationship between the child and the other parent

  • The mental and physical health of the child and the parents

  • The educational and developmental needs of the child

  • The presence of any domestic violence, abuse, or neglect in the family

The court will try to create a custody arrangement that promotes the child’s best interests while respecting the rights and responsibilities of both parents.

How to protect your finances when going through a divorce in Connecticut?

Going through a divorce can be a stressful and challenging time, especially when it comes to finances. You may have many questions and concerns about how to protect your assets, manage your debts, and plan for your future.

Here are some ways you can protect your money when going through a divorce:

  • Organize your finances: Before filing for divorce, gather all relevant financial information and documents, such as tax returns, bank statements, credit card bills, and retirement accounts. Make a list of all assets and liabilities, both marital and non-marital. This will help you and your spouse negotiate a fair distribution of property and debts.

  • Consider mediation: Mediation is a process where you and your spouse work with a neutral third party to resolve issues related to your divorce, such as property division, alimony, child custody, and child support. Mediation can be less time-consuming, less expensive, and less stressful than going to court. It can also help you maintain a cooperative relationship with your spouse after the divorce.

  • Think about Social Security: If you have been married for at least 10 years, you may be eligible to receive Social Security benefits based on your ex-spouse’s record. This can provide valuable income during retirement, especially if your ex-spouse earned more than you. However, certain criteria must be met to qualify for this benefit.

  • Seek professional help: Divorce can significantly impact your financial situation. Consider consulting with a financial advisor specializing in divorce to help you navigate these changes and plan for your future.

Get expert financial advice

A financial advisor can help you assess your current financial status, create a post-divorce budget, and develop a long-term financial plan that aligns with your needs and goals.

Unbiased can connect you with a financial advisor perfectly suited to meet your needs. Simply provide some details about what you’re looking for, and Unbiased’s platform will match you with your advisor.

Find your financial advisor with Unbiased today.

Writers

Unbiased team

Our team of writers, who have decades of experience writing about personal finance, including investing and retirement, are here to help you find out what you must know about life’s biggest financial decisions.

Need help rebuilding your finances after divorce?

A financial advisor can guide you through your financial recovery both during and after your divorce.