Divorce is the end of a marriage, but not necessarily the end of civility. Most spouses dread the idea of lengthy divorce proceedings, and many prefer to settle their divorce cases out of court. For spouses who can agree on the issues involved in the divorce, an uncontested divorce may be available.
This article will explain the nature of an uncontested divorce and Connecticut uncontested divorce law. If you still have any questions after reading this article or would like to file for an uncontested divorce, you should consult with an experienced divorce attorney.
Uncontested Divorce in Connecticut Defined
Like many states, Connecticut has chosen to simplify the divorce process for spouses seeking uncontested divorces. There are two types of uncontested divorce under Connecticut law: non-adversarial divorce (“non-ad” divorce) and divorce with agreement (“waive 90” divorce).
A non-adversarial divorce is the simplest style of divorce. It allows spouses to file for divorce and have the entire divorce process finalized within thirty-five days without the spouses ever having to step foot in a courtroom. The problem with non-adversarial divorce is that there are strict eligibility rules including: the marriage must be eight-years or younger, the spouses cannot have had any children, and there are also various property restrictions. Most spouses, therefore will not qualify for a non-adversarial divorce and will have to seek an uncontested divorce with agreement. For more information on non-ad divorces, see the State of Connecticut Judicial Branch website.1
A divorce with agreement is the more standard type of uncontested divorce available in most states. Under a divorce with agreement, the spouses can simplify the divorce process by coming into court prepared with a pre-written agreement describing the terms of the divorce. The main benefit of uncontested divorce by agreement in Connecticut is that the spouses can avoid Connecticut’s ninety-day divorce finalization that accompanies standard divorces. For more information about uncontested divorces by agreement, see the State of Connecticut Judicial Branch website.2
Requirements for Seeking a Connecticut Uncontested Divorce
To file for uncontested divorce in Connecticut, the filing spouses must meet certain requirements. Any questions about these requirements can be answered by an experienced Connecticut divorce attorney or family lawyer.
Couples seeking a Connecticut uncontested divorce must first meet the state’s divorce residency requirement. Prior to filing for divorce in Connecticut, at least one of the spouses must have lived within the state of Connecticut for at least twelve months.3
Additionally, the spouses must demonstrate that sufficient grounds exist to grant a divorce. Connecticut has eight different at-fault grounds for divorce. These are not normally used for uncontested divorces because the subject matter makes them more likely to be contested.
Connecticut also has two no-fault divorce grounds. Couples may seek a no-fault divorce in Connecticut either after living separately for eighteen months, or at any time upon proving that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. An irretrievable breakdown simply means that personality differences have come between the spouses and they should be allowed to divorce for that reason.4
Finally, the spouses must submit a written separation agreement with the court. A separation agreement is a legally-binding contract that sets the terms for the divorce and resolves all issues between the spouses.
On Spousal Support and Separation Agreements
When spouses sit down to discuss the terms of their divorce, it is often beneficial for the spouses tosign a legal separation agreement. A separation agreement is NOT a formal divorce. A separationagreement is a contract between spouses that lays out their agreement and terms of their separation.A fully completed separation agreement can serve as the basis for an uncontested divorce, and maybe helpful in filling out the required divorce paperwork. Prior to signing any separation agreement(or any contract with your spouse), you should have an experienced attorney review the terms of the contract for you.
The purpose of a separation agreement is to resolve any issues remaining between the spouses. Therefore, the agreement should at a minimum cover the following issues:
- Child custody, childcare arrangements, and visitation;
- Child maintenance or support and a child education plan;
- Alimony; and
- Disposition of property (including division of any shared property such as real estate and debts).
The court reviewing a separation agreement will normally approve the terms, but it does have the ability to alter the agreement if it finds that the agreement is unfair either to one of the spouses or any child. When the parties submit their agreement to the court, they will also be required to submit financial affidavits to the court.5
The Process for Filing for an Uncontested Divorce in Connecticut
Once you have decided to file for an uncontested divorce, the general flow of the process is as follows (this outline assumes a divorce with agreement rather than a non-adversarial divorce):
- This step is optional, but you should begin by consulting a family law attorney who can either answer any questions that you may have, or who can help you file your divorce paperwork properly.
- For spouses seeking an uncontested divorce in Connecticut without the assistance of an attorney, the first step will be agreeing on the terms of the divorce and preparing te required divorce paperwork. Fortunately, the Connecticut Judicial Branch’s website has sample divorce forms that you and your spouse can use to file for divorce in any Connecticut court.6
- Next, the spouses will need to determine which court to use to file for divorce. The divorce complaint must be filed in the superior court in the county in which the spouses meet the residency requirement.
- The filing spouse should file the complaint for divorce and summons along with the required filing fee (the fee can be waived if you cannot afford to pay it). The responding spouse should then file a written waiver of service of process.
- Both spouses should then also file a written stipulation that the marriage is, in fact, irretrievably broken as well as a motion to waive the 90-day statutory time period.
- Prior to the hearing, the judge will alert the parties whether they will need to bring any witnesses to testify at the hearing. On the day of your hearing, you and your spouse should be prepared to answer basic questions from the judge. If the judge approves your separation agreement, the court will grant a divorce.
- One final housekeeping item: spouses divorcing with children will need to complete a parenting education program within sixty days of filing the divorce complaint. The program is designed to help parents teach their children how to adjust to divorce.
For additional information on divorce in Connecticut, you should visit the Connecticut Judicial Branch’s website.7
Note: This article is not legal advice. Please consult a lawyer for your specific situation.
- Nonadversarial Divorce (“Non ad”), STATE OF CONNECTICUT JUDICIAL BRANCH
- Divorce with Agreement (“Waive 90”), STATE OF CONNECTICUT JUDICIAL BRANCH
- Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46b-44.
- Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46b-40.
- Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46b-66.
- Official Court Webforms, STATE OF CONNECTICUT JUDICIAL BRANCH
- DivorceNavigator, STATE OF CONNECTICUT JUDICIAL BRANCH