Dissolving (terminating) a Marriage or Civil Union

Requirements for Divorce of a Marriage or Civil Union in Connecticut
Marriage and Civil Union are both a legal status that may only be dissolved by:

  • the death of one of the parties; or
  • a decree of annulment or dissolution of the marriage or civil union by a court of competent jurisdiction.

This means that if both parties to the marriage or Civil Union are still living and one or both parties wish to terminate the relationship, the parties must file an action for dissolution in the Superior Court.  It is important to note that same-sex marriages and Civil Unions were not recognized by every state.  Therefore, unlike a heterosexual marriage, gay and lesbian couples were not able to obtain a dissolution (divorce) in a state that did not recognize same-sex marriages or Civil Unions. Some have chosen to remarry despite their inability to dissolve the previous relationship legally where they resided. If this is the case, you should consult an attorney.

There are specific procedures for filing an action for dissolution.  Select a category or question of interest below:

 

What Divorce Models Are Available to Me in Connecticut?

In the State of Connecticut, you may obtain a divorce using 1) the traditional litigation (court-based) model, 2) collaborative divorce or 3) mediation.

 

What Do The Statutes Say About Dissolution of Marriages & Civil Unions?

Connecticut General Statutes 46b-20 through 46b-89 govern marriages and civil unions.  While there are many grounds on which you may file for dissolution, Connecticut also provides for “no-fault” dissolution.  That means that you do not have to prove that your spouse is at fault, only that the marriage or civil union has “broken down irretrievably” and there is no hope of getting back together.  Your spouse does not have to agree to dissolution in order for you to file for a dissolution.   Only one person has to claim that the marriage or civil union has “irretrievably broken down.”

 

How Long Will It Take For My Dissolution To Become Final?

Under Connecticut law, there is a ninety-day waiting period from the time you commence the dissolution action until it becomes final.  If your dissolution is complicated (for example, you have property or custody issues to resolve), the time it will take to finalize your dissolution may be longer than ninety days.

 

How Much Will My Dissolution Cost?

The commencement of a dissolution action requires that specific forms (including a Summons and Complaint, among others) be completed and served upon your spouse by a marshal.  There are certain costs involved in filing for dissolution, which include the fee for the marshal to serve the Summons and Complaint (approximately $60 or more), as well as the court’s filing fee (currently $360.00).  If you have minor children (under the age of 18), you are required to participate in a parenting education program.  Under certain circumstances, you may motion the court to exempt you from such classes (for example, if your youngest child is nearly 18 at the time you file for dissolution).  If you fall below certain income requirements, the court may grant you a waiver of some or all of the fees if you complete the proper application.   Your attorney’s fees will vary, depending on the complexity of your particular case.

 

Child Support

If you have minor children (under the age of 18) where both parties are legal parents of the children, the Court will address issues such as custody, visitation, child support and future educational support.  Connecticut Child Support is based upon recognized guidelines and is not determined arbitrarily.   Please see our Child Support page for more  information on the topic of Child Support.

Depending upon a variety of circumstances, the issue of alimony (financial support of your spouse) may also be addressed.

This is not, by any means, an exhaustive list of issues that may arise in your dissolution action.   Every set of circumstances has its own issues.  A consultation with a licensed attorney may be helpful and should be able to answer your specific questions.  For more information on the dissolution of a marriage or Civil Union and your legal rights, contact an attorney at Gryk & Frolich LLC in Manchester, Connecticut.

 

Automatic Court Orders

Along with the Summons and Complaint, a Notice of Automatic Court Orders (form JD-FM-158) must be served upon the other party by a marshal.  The following summarizes what each party can and cannot do while your dissolution is pending.   Failure to obey the Automatic Court Orders may be punishable by being held in Contempt of Court.

You cannot:

  • Sell, mortgage or give away any property without written agreement or a court order;
  • Go into unreasonable debt by borrowing money or using credit cards or cash advances;
  • Permanently take your children from Connecticut without written agreement or court order;
  • Take each other or your children off any existing medical, hospital, doctor or dental insurance policy or let any such insurance policy expire;
  • Change the terms or named beneficiaries of any existing insurance policy or let any existing insurance coverage expire.   This includes life, automobile, homeowner’s or renter’s insurance;
  • Deny use of the family home to the other person without a court order, if you are living together on the date the dissolution papers are served.

You must:

  • Complete and exchange sworn financial affidavits (form JD-FM-6 new 1-14, short form or long form)) within 30 days of the return date.  A Financial Affidavit is a special form on which you must disclose your wages and other sources of income, your assets, and your debts and expenses;
  • Participate in a parenting education class within 60 days of the return date (if you have minor children);
  • Attend a Case Management Conference on the date specified on the Notice of Automatic Orders (which will be determined by the court clerk) and/or file a Case Management Agreement form with the court clerk on or before that date;
  • Tell the other person (or her/his attorney, if she/he is represented by one) in writing within 48 hours about your new address or a place where you can receive mail if you move out of the family home (if you share children under the age of 18);
  • Help any children you share to continue their usual contact with both parents in person, by telephone and in writing.

If you object to the Automatic Court Orders or if you want them changed, you have the right to a hearing before a Judge within in a reasonable time, by filing a Motion to Modify these orders with the court clerk.

 

Useful Resources for Dissolution Information 

The following links are provided for informational purposes only and are not intended as legal advice.  Use of this information is not intended to and does not form an attorney/client relationship.  The Gryk & Frolich LLc Law Office is not responsible for the content or accuracy of information on these websites.

Note that these materials generally refer to “divorce” rather than “civil union” — however, the same statutes and materials apply to Civil Unions.

For more information on Connecticut Same-Sex Marriages & Civil Unions visit our Connecticut Marriages & Civil Unions for Lesbian & Gay Couples page.


IMPORTANT NOTICE TO NON-CONNECTICUT RESIDENTS:

You or your spouse MUST be a resident of Connecticut for 12 months in order for Connecticut courts to have jurisdiction over your divorce, legal separation or annulment.  Our statutes clearly state that:

Sec. 46b-44(c) A decree dissolving a marriage or granting a legal separation may be entered if: (1) One of the parties to the marriage has been a resident of this state for at least the twelve months next preceding the date of the filing of the complaint or next preceding the date of the decree; or (2) one of the parties was domiciled in this state at the time of the marriage and returned to this state with the intention of permanently remaining before the filing of the complaint; or (3) the cause for the dissolution of the marriage arose after either party moved into this state.

Establishing residency in Connecticut does NOT mean simply owning property in this state or using someone else’s Connecticut mailing address as your own.  To establish residency in Connecticut, you (or your spouse) MUST live in this state. It is not enough to obtain a post office box — you must actually have a physical street address. As further proof that you have become a Connecticut resident, you should obtain a driver’s license (or State I.D. if you do not drive), register your motor vehicles here, pay state and local taxes in Connecticut, and register to vote here (be aware that you cannot be a resident of two states for voting purposes).  The residency requirement applies to heterosexual couples as well as gay & lesbian couples.  There are NO exceptions to the statutory rule that you (or your spouse) MUST be a Connecticut resident, so please do not call the office to ask how to avoid this requirement.


You might also be interested in:

Adoption and Sperm Donation
Civil Union Pre/Postnuptial Agreements and Property Contracts
Connecticut Same-Sex Marriage Guidelines
FAQ: Wills & Testamentary Trusts
Living Wills and Other Documents


Disclaimer: The information presented here is intended as a brief guide to Connecticut’s law as it applies to the dissolution of same-sex marriages and civil unions.  It is not intended to be and should not be construed as legal advice. Questions about your individual circumstances should be discussed with a licensed attorney. A Connecticut attonrey at Gryk & Frolich LLC in Manchester, Connecticut can assist you with dissolution of same-sex marriage or Civil Union or advise you about a legal separation or annulment.