As a Connecticut divorce and family lawyer for nineteen years, attorney Eric Posmantier understands that the divorce process can be overwhelming for clients. Although divorce is often a complex process, it doesn't have to be something that is confusing for you or your family. That is why, from the earliest stages of working with our firm, Attorney Posmantier will walk you through the divorce process step by step, answer your questions, and obtain the information necessary to address all aspects of your divorce in Connecticut. Below is a brief overview of what the divorce process generally entails.
The Divorce Process
1. Initial Attorney Meeting
No two divorces are alike. We will analyze your spouse’s and your background, finances, and if the divorce involves children, your children and their needs.
In most circumstances, we do not charge for the initial meeting. In lieu of a fee, as a “pay it forward” initiative, we ask for a voluntary donation, of any amount, to an organization called Give Kids the World.
2. Grounds For Divorce
You do not need to prove grounds for the divorce beyond that the marriage has “broken down irretrievably”. There are other grounds allowed for divorce in Connecticut, which should be discussed with your attorney. Learn More
3. Court Filing
In order to officially start the divorce process, the filing party must complete and serve on the other party the following three forms:
The timing of service of process should be carefully considered because it will set the tone for the weeks and months to follow.
4. Next Steps
Except in simple matters, there is a ninety-day waiting period after the divorce action starts before you can obtain a divorce judgment. Even in more complex matters, this waiting period can be waived with permission of the court. During this time, you and your spouse will exchange information, such as financial institution statements. This is called “discovery”.
If you are not ready to be divorced within that ninety-day period (the average process takes roughly eight months), then a simple document called a Case Management Agreement will need to be completed. Also, both parties’ financial affidavits and, if applicable, a parenting plan will need to be filed.
If you and your spouse are unable to reach an agreement regarding your parenting plan within those first ninety days, a court appearance will be necessary on the case management date and the court will likely get involved with examining the parenting plan impasse and determining next steps.
Once the discovery period is completed, you and your spouse can begin negotiating the terms of the divorce and attempt to reach an agreement.
5. The Final Hearing or Trial
At least one party must go to court for a final “uncontested” divorce hearing in front of a judge. In cases where the divorce is uncontested, a final hearing is a very quick process, sometimes as short as fifteen minutes.
If you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement on all issues, the court will schedule a trial to occur.
Division of Assets & Liability
Connecticut is an “equitable distribution” state. This means that the court can redistribute all assets and liabilities that exist at time of divorce, regardless of when or how the same were acquired. An "equitable" division is one that's fair in the eyes of the parties (in the event of an agreement) or judge (in the event of a trial). “Fair” is not the same as “equal”.
Prior to dividing assets and debts, it is imperitive to identify and accurately assess the value of all assets and debts acquired during the marriage, including, but not limited to:
- Real estate
- Bank accounts
- Business entities
- Stocks, bonds and investments
- Pension plans and retirement accounts
- Credit card debts
- Car Loans
- Other unpaid bills
If the parties do not reach an agreement on their own, the court determines how the property is to be divided after considering evidence from each party, including:
- Length of the marriage
- Causes for the dissolution of the marriage
- Amount and sources of income
- Employability and earning capacity
Child Support & Alimony
Both parents have a responsibility to provide financial support for their children. Connecticut uses Child Support Guidelines to determine the amount of support to be paid by each parent to the other. Attorney Posmantier will advise on how best to use these Guidelines to support your position.
Parenting Issues (“Custody”)
Creating a workable parenting plan can often be the most emotional and difficult part of a divorce process. Attorney Posmantier works to help resolve parenting disputes as quickly and painlessly as possible. There are two main categories of parenting issues to be addressed:
- Legal Custody: This is the right to make major decisions on behalf of the child. Normally, joint legal custody is awarded to the parties. In extreme circumstances, usually where mental health or substance abuse is a concern, or parents are completely unable to parent together, the court might award sole legal custody to one parent or the other.
- Physical Custody: This, essentially, refers to the parenting schedule. A determination of each parent’s “parenting time” with the children, and the children’s school enrollment, are most important when considering physical custody.
Alimony (Spousal Support)
Alimony is the money one spouse must pay to support the other spouse. Connecticut courts grant alimony on a case-by-case basis. The court must weigh several factors to determine whether spousal support is appropriate, as well as the duration of the same. Those factors include, but are not limited to the length of marriage, age, health, income and job skills of each spouse. (See Connecticut General Statutes section 46b-82)