Connecticut Divorce Basics

This article discusses the laws and rules related to getting a divorce in Connecticut. The same laws apply to same-sex married couples there.

Grounds for Divorce

In Connecticut, you can file for divorce if your marriage is irretrievably broken or if you have lived apart for 18 months. This is considered a no-fault divorce. You may also file for divorce based on fault, meaning that the divorce is based on one spouse's actions, such as adultery, abandonment, or intolerable cruelty. For a complete list of grounds, see Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 46b-40(c).

Residency Requirement and Waiting Period

You must be a resident of Connecticut for at least 12 months before you can file a petition for divorce. The court may enter a final decree of divorce no sooner than 90 days after you file the petition.

Property Division in Connecticut

Connecticut uses a system of equitable distribution to divide marital property and debts between spouses. This means that the court may award all or any part of the marital estate to either spouse based on what is fair and equitable. The judge may consider the length of the marriage, the cause of the divorce, and the age, health, occupation, sources of income, liabilities, and needs of each spouse. The judge may also consider each partner's contributions to buying or improving a house.

Alimony

Connecticut courts may order one spouse to pay alimony. The judge will review several factors to determine the amount of the order, such as how long the parties were married, each spouse's occupation, income, employability, and needs. To modify a permanent alimony award, the person requesting the modification must show that circumstances have changed so substantially that the current order is no longer appropriate.

Child Support

Both parents must financially support their children according to their respective abilities. Child support obligations continue until a child completes high school or turns 19, or, if the child is disabled, until age 21. In deciding an amount of child support, the court will use the state guidelines as a starting point and consider various factors including both parents' income and earning capacity, and the needs of the children. To modify an order, a party must show a substantial change in circumstances or demonstrate that the support order deviates from the established child support guidelines. In Connecticut, child support orders are enforced by the Child Support Enforcement Services Unit.  

Child Custody

In making a child custody or visitation order, the Connecticut courts are guided by the best interests of the child. The court may award custody to one or both parents, or to a third party if appropriate, but the presumption is that joint custody between both parents is best. The judge's goal is to provide the child with active involvement by both parents; thus the court will look at the needs of the child, the parents' ability to meet those needs, the relationship of the child with each parent, the child's adjustment to home, school, and community, and the length of time the child has lived in a stable environment. The court will use a similar standard to determine whether custody and visitation should be modified. Parents may submit a proposed parenting plan to the court setting forth how they plan to share responsibilities of caring for the child. If the plan is satisfactory, the court will adopt the plan as its order.  

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