Generally speaking, for a court to consider a divorce to be uncontested, the spouses need to have agreed on all the pertinent issues. These include subjects like:
Keep in mind that even if you disagree on some issues when the divorce starts, there’s nothing to prevent you and your spouse from reaching an agreement down the road.
In order to get divorced in Connecticut, you’ll have to meet the state’s residency requirements. The one that most often applies is that one of the spouses must have been a resident of the state for at least 12 months immediately prior to the date the divorce complaint is filed or the date the divorce will become final. (You can find the full list of requirements in Connecticut General Statutes. (C.G.S) - Sec. 46b-44.)
You’ll also need to have "grounds" (a valid legal reason) for the divorce. No-fault grounds are that “the marriage is irretrievably broken,” basically meaning the couple can no longer get along, and there’s no reasonable prospect of that changing. There’s another no-fault ground based on the spouses being separated for 18 months. In a fault-based divorce, one spouse must allege and prove that the other spouse engaged in a specific type of marital misconduct that caused the marriage to fail. These include adultery, desertion, and cruelty. You can find a full listing at C.G.S. - Sec 46b-40.
Most people starting a divorce choose no-fault grounds because fault divorces typically take longer to complete and prove. In a fault divorce, you're not saying your spouse did anything wrong. This makes it less likely that a spouse will contest the grounds for the divorce.
Connecticut provides ample online support for people seeking an uncontested divorce. But if you’re representing yourself, ultimately it’s your responsibility to make sure you’ve taken all the necessary steps for successful completion of the process. The sections below reviews some of the basic steps. If you have questions about your case, contact a local attorney for advice.
The spouse who starts the divorce is referred to as the "plaintiff". As plaintiff, your first order of business is locating the correct forms (known as “pleadings”) and completing them. You can find forms at the Connecticut Judiciary’s website, or you can get them at Court Service Centers located in Superior Court Courthouses.
To start the process, you need to prepare three forms: the divorce complaint, which provides the court with information about you, your marriage, and the relief you’re seeking (what you’re asking for, such as alimony and child support); a Family Actions Summons; and, a Notice of Automatic Court Orders.
Next, you have to bring your paperwork to the court clerk’s office. The clerk will review the forms for accuracy. Assuming your forms are in order, the court clerk will return them to you, so you can proceed to the next step. At the clerk’s office, you’ll also choose a “return date”. This date will mark the formal beginning of the divorce action. (Usually, neither spouse has to appear in court on the return date.)
Once the clerk has reviewed your papers, you need to “serve” (deliver) them on the “defendant” (the other spouse). Service of the forms is usually done through the State Marshal’s office. Contact the marshal’s office in the judicial district where your spouse lives or works. (A list of marshal’s offices is on the court’s website.) After being served with the divorce papers, the defendant will usually file a form known as an “Appearance”. If the defendant fails to submit a response, the court can enter a “default”, and the case can proceed without the defendant’s participation. (You can find more information on ways to serve pleadings in C.G.S. - Section 46b-45.)
Be aware that there are fees involved with starting the divorce. If you can’t afford the fees, you can apply to the court for relief by filing an “Application for Waiver of Fees” with the clerk.
There are primarily two methods for obtaining a no-contest divorce in Connecticut. Both of these will allow you to bypass the usual 90-day waiting period (which starts on the return date) that Connecticut law requires before you can finalize the divorce.
The first method is known as “Non-adversarial Divorce.” (C.G.S. Sec. 46b-44a.) If you’re looking for a quick divorce in Connecticut, this is a virtual express train. If you qualify, you can usually obtain a divorce in approximately 35 days. And, as a bonus, you won’t have to go to court and appear before a judge. You have to meet these conditions:
The second method is “Divorce With an Agreement – Waive 90.” If you’ve settled all the issues in your divorce, you can typically proceed without having to wait the required 90 days. You’ll have to file a motion (legal request) with the court in order to do this. This method is more complicated than the Non-adversarial route, because it requires you to complete several more forms, including financial affidavits. And if there are minor children involved, additional forms are needed, and you’ll have to participate in a parenting education program. That said, it’s still significantly faster than a traditional divorce where you’re contesting one or more issues.
Note that if your spouse hasn’t responded to the complaint (defaulted), you can request a waiver of the 90-day rule.
As stated above, for a court to consider your case truly uncontested, you need to have resolved all issues. You and your spouse might be able to do that on your own. But you may find you need the assistance of attorneys or a qualified mediator. Either way, it’s likely that amicably resolving your differences will reduce the uncertainty, stress, and expense of a trial.
When you’ve agreed to terms, you should memorialize them in a divorce settlement agreement (sometimes referred to as a “property settlement agreement” or a “marital settlement agreement”). This agreement is a written contract between you and your spouse. When properly executed, it’s binding on both of you. At the time you finalize your divorce, you’ll ask to have your agreement incorporated into the final judgment. If you and your spouse prepared the agreement on your own, it’s important for each of you to have separate attorneys review the agreement with you. This will ensure that you understand the legal consequences of the agreement’s terms, and that the document meets all legal requirements.
Be advised that there’s nothing stopping you from entering into a property settlement agreement before you file for divorce. In fact, it’s encouraged.
An uncontested divorce hearing in Connecticut is relatively uncomplicated. Try to get to the courthouse early, so you can check in and familiarize yourself with the surroundings. You may also have to meet with a member of the court staff prior to going into the courtroom, depending on the circumstances of your case.
At the hearing, the judge will look at your paperwork to make sure everything is in order. The judge will want to know that your agreement is fair, and likely will ask you some questions about it. When the judge is satisfied you’ve met all the requirements, you’ll be issued a document granting the divorce, known as a Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage.