May 20, 2019

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Connecticut Divorce Law

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Connecticut divorce addresses issues such as property division, child custody, child support, and alimony. Connecticut allows for both no-fault and fault-based divorce. Connecticut also allows for legal separation for couples who want to address the issues resolved by divorce without dissolving the marriage. Connecticut is unusual in that it allows the court to re-distribute all property of the spouses, including property which typically falls under separate property in other states.

Grounds for Divorce in Connecticut

Connecticut grants fault and no-fault divorce. The two no-fault grounds for divorce in Connecticut are:

  • Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage
  • Living apart continuously for at least 18 months, due to incompatibility with no reasonable prospect of reconciliation

Grounds for fault divorce in Connecticut include:

  • Adultery
  • Fraudulent contract
  • Willful desertion for one year
  • Absence of one spouse for seven years, during which the absent spouse has not been heard from
  • Habitual drunkenness
  • Intolerable cruelty
  • Life imprisonment, or commission of a sex crime punishable for more than one year in prison
  • Confinement in a mental institution for at least five of the last six years

Property Division

Connecticut is an equitable distribution state, meaning that property is not divided equally, but in a manner that the court believes is fair. The majority of states are equitable distributions states, but Connecticut handles it differently. Connecticut does not distinguish between marital and separate property. Where most states consider property acquired before the marriage, gifts, and inherited property as separate and belonging to one spouse, Connecticut does not, and can divide all the property of both spouses.

Alimony

Alimony may be granted to one spouse in Connecticut divorce, but it not automatic. Alimony must be requested, and is generally considered rehabilitative rather than permanent maintenance. It is common for courts to grant temporary alimony to be paid during the divorce proceedings. Alimony may also be ordered to help one spouse get on their feet or become employable after the divorce. Permanent alimony is granted in rare cases.

Child Custody

Child custody is based on the best interest of the child, and is not meant to punish or reward either parent for the details of the marriage. The wishes of the child may be considered.

Legal custody refers to decision making. Legal custody may be shared or awarded to one parent. For the purpose of legal custody decision making includes major decisions such as educational, medical, and religious decisions.

Physical custody refers to who the child lives with and typically includes visitation time for the other parent.