Filing for divorce (also known as a "dissolution of marriage") in Connecticut first requires a several different steps, each with a different set of documents.
Serving a Summons and Complaint
To initiate a divorce (dissolution) action, one party to a marriage must serve a Summons and Complaint upon the other party. These legal documents must be served by a State marshal. The fee for service is approximately $50-$75.
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.
Understanding Automatic 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. Both parties are subject to the terms of Automatic Orders, which detail what each party can and cannot do while the divorce (dissolution) action is pending. Failure to obey the Automatic Court Orders may be punishable by being held in Contempt of Court.
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.
What you can't do under Automatic Orders
--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 divorce papers are served.
What you must do under Automatic Orders
--Complete and exchange sworn Financial Affidavits (form JD-FM-6) 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) unless you both agree on all issues and 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.
Submitting the Summons and Complaint to Superior Court
After a marshal has "served" the divorce papers upon the other party, the action must be filed in Superior Court. The party initiating the divorce must submit the Summons, complaint, proof of service (obtained from the marshal) and a filing fee of $300 to the court.
How long will it take for my divorce to become final?
Under Connecticut law, there is a ninety-day waiting period from the time you commence the divorce action until it becomes final. If your divorce is complicated (for example, you have property or custody issues to resolve), the time it will take to finalize your divorce may be longer than ninety days.