Connecticut is a mixed state regarding divorce, meaning that the law provides for both fault-based grounds for divorce and for grounds where neither spouse assigns fault to the other. In addition to naming grounds for the divorce, Connecticut law also includes residency requirements. Either:
- One spouse has been a Connecticut resident for 12 months prior to the final judgment;
- One spouse lived in Connecticut during the marriage and, before filing the complaint, returned with the intent to stay; or
- The cause for the divorce arose after either party moved to Connecticut.
If the residency requirements are satisfied, one spouse must file a Complaint for Dissolution of Marriage, which outlines to the court what the spouse would like the court to do, e.g. dissolve the marriage, distribute property, and make a child support determination. The complaint must also include the grounds for divorce.
No-fault divorce is the most common type of divorce in Connecticut. No-fault means that neither spouse has to prove wrongdoing by the other spouse in order to end the marriage. There are two grounds for no-fault divorce in Connecticut:
- Irretrievable breakdown: the marriage has broken down such that there is no realistic chance that the spouses will resolve their differences; and
- Intentional separation: the spouses have lived apart for at least 18 continuous months because of incompatibility, and there is no reasonable chance of reconciliation.
Fault divorce, in contrast, is caused by one spouse’s misbehavior or wrongdoing. Though fault grounds are not required by Connecticut law, using fault as a grounds for divorce may give one spouse an advantage in areas such as child custody, alimony, or property settlements. The grounds for fault divorce in Connecticut are:
- Adultery: engaging in sexual acts with someone other than a spouse;
- Fraudulent contract: a pre-marital deception regarding some factor that affects the essence of the marriage (such as lying about a criminal history, or lying about being pregnant by another man);
- Willful desertion: one spouse intentionally leaves the other for at least one year;
- Absence: one spouse is absent for seven years, with no communication from the absent spouse;
- Habitual intemperance: a long-lasting lack of self-control, such as alcohol abuse, that affects the spouse’s ability to perform the duties of marriage;
- Intolerable cruelty: cruel acts by one spouse that are so serious that continuing the relationship is impracticable;
- Imprisonment: either imprisonment for life or commission of a sex crime, such as rape or sexual assault, that leads to imprisonment for at least one year; or
- Mental illness: confinement in a mental institution for at least five of the past six years.
For those who are considering a divorce, it can be confusing and difficult to determine which grounds are most appropriate to your situation and which grounds will make the divorce process as quick and painless as possible. If you are considering a divorce, please contact a skilled Fairfield County family law attorney at our law firm for a free initial consultation.