Such a serious step as a divorce does not tolerate haste and rash actions. Before filing for divorce in Connecticut, you need to thoroughly understand the rules, make a plan, and think a few steps in advance. Getting a divorce isn’t difficult. The challenging part is getting an outcome that meets your expectations. Below you can find the main aspects of the marriage dissolution process in Connecticut and the stages of preparation.
1. Decide on the type of divorce.
In essence, there are two types – contested and uncontested or amicable. The difficulty of the whole process depends on whether the spouses can come to a mutual agreement. For those who can compromise, alternative ways are available to save nerves and money, such as do-it-yourself divorce and divorce over the Internet.
It is the most affordable option for an uncontested divorce. In Connecticut, a married couple can proceed without a lawyer and file their case pro se. If they choose such a path, they will have to draft all the paperwork on their own. Although it seems like a simple task, collecting the court forms and completing them can be very tricky.
Web divorce companies provide divorce papers for families who want to separate amicably and resolve their issues without an attorney or going through a lengthy trial. Divorce over the Internet is usually relatively inexpensive and more effective than a do-it-yourself option. Online services promise a quick preparation of all necessary documentation, usually within a few days.
2. Determine grounds for divorce.
A Connecticut divorce is granted on several grounds that can be no-fault and fault-based. Irretrievable breakdown and separation for 18 months because of incompatibility are no-fault causes.
Fault-based grounds include adultery, willful desertion, cruelty, fraudulent contract, and the conviction of a felony with imprisonment for one year. The law also lists insanity as a cause for ending a marriage. It must be accompanied by confinement to a mental hospital for six years before filing.
3. Check the residency requirements.
To start a dissolution of marriage in Connecticut, a petitioner or a respondent must meet residency requirements:
- Either spouse has been a resident of Connecticut for twelve months before filing.
- Either party resided in Connecticut during the marriage and returned to the state, intending to remain there.
- A cause for dissolution occurred after a couple moved to Connecticut. This requirement might seem a fast option to start a divorce process, but most judges will still require a 12-month residency.
4. Collect financial information.
Before you apply for divorce, you should collect documents concerning family accounts and property. “Make copies of all your most recent financial statements, so there’s an accurate record of all money to be split,” encourages Suzy Orman, a renowned financial advisor. If you decide to hire a lawyer, they will need this information to proceed with your case. The more papers they have, the faster the process will move.
Here’s the list of what you need to collect:
- tax returns
- credit card statements
- savings accounts
- prenuptial and postnuptial agreements
- pay stubs
- deeds for real estate
- retirement account statements, etc.
If there are specific documents that you cannot get hold of, your spouse will disclose them anyway during the discovery process, but it will take time.
5. Plan a budget.
To know what conditions to agree to and what to ask for, you need to know all your expenses and needs. Don’t rush to give up spousal support to show off your independence. “Not taking time to plan for unexpected emergencies and problems leaves thousands of people struggling financially every year,” points out M. Houck, author of “Living After Divorce & Widowhood.”
Think about the following:
- household bills
- children-related expenses
- food and clothing, etc.
Planning for marriage dissolution in advance includes putting some cash aside to afford legal and filing fees and day-to-day essentials, at least for a few months. The ideal situation would be to either save some money in separate accounts or ask family members or friends for a loan.
You also need to save money for the divorce proceeding. The cost of divorce in Connecticut depends on the circumstances. Simple cases where both spouses have a settlement agreement cost approximately $500 if self-represented and at least $1,500 if you hire a lawyer. Conflict cases with property disputes and minor children require $14,000 on average.
6. Gather a support team.
The consequences of some bad decisions when planning for dissolution of marriage become evident only in time. Sometimes extra caution and support of knowledgeable people come in handy. Consider consulting the following specialists before making any decisions:
- Financial experts who specialize in child support, alimony, and property division.
- Tax accountants to get your tax returns in order.
- Insurance specialists to help you change your coverage plan.
- Real estate consultants to evaluate your house and advise you on rental options.
- Mediators – to facilitate negotiation between the spouses.
- Child custody consultants to help with custody arrangements and other support services.
7. Prepare legal papers.
In all marriage dissolution cases, there are essentially three forms you need to file with the clerk’s office:
- Divorce Complaint
- Notice of Automatic Court Orders
Other papers may include an Affidavit Concerning Children form, the Certification of public assistance, motions for temporary orders, etc.
The spouse planning to file the case first can find the forms either in the clerk’s office or online. In case they decide to use a web divorce service and fill out an application for divorce online, they will receive completed papers ready to be filed immediately.
8. Learn about the filing procedure.
To start the proceedings, a petitioner files the paperwork with a superior court where one of the spouses lives. After the clerk’s office accepts the paperwork, they choose the return and case management dates. A return date is a deadline to submit proof of service after you notify your spouse about the proceedings. There’s a 90-day waiting period that ends on the case management date.
Some Internet divorce services offer their clients to file their papers and serve the other party. But they can’t fully complete divorce online and send you a final court order. To finalize your marriage dissolution, you’ll have to attend a hearing, especially if you have minor children.
A court hearing may be the last stage of the process if the divorce is uncontested. Otherwise, the couple will go through a trial that might take several months to a few years.