It’s no secret that courts tend to favor marriage more than divorce, so it is no surprise that you will need to provide a legally accepted reason (grounds) to the court before a judge will approve your request for a divorce.
The grounds for divorce vary for each state, but all 50 states offer some form of “no-fault” divorce, which simply means that neither spouse is responsible for the relationship’s demise. In the State of Connecticut, couples can state either of the following reasons for divorce to the court:
- irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, or
- spouses lived separate and apart for a continuous period of at least 18 months before either spouse files for divorce.
You might wonder how you can prove that your marriage is “irretrievably broken.” This means that the relationship is broken beyond repair and there is no chance that the couple will be able to get back together. If at least one spouse doesn’t want the marriage to continue then that is typically enough for the court to assume that there is no chance for reconciliation.
Case Example: In one Connecticut case, a wife had filed for divorce but the husband denied that the marriage was irretrievably broken. However in the past, the wife had filed for divorce on multiple occasions but eventually withdrew her request after the parties reconciled. The husband had argued that this divorce request was no different, and he had expected them to get back together. The wife then argued that the only reason she had dismissed her previous divorce petitions was due to her husband’s negative influence. The judge ended up determining that the wife was clear and that she no longer intended to remain married. The judge concluded that there was no chance of reconciliation. and as a result, the court ended up granting the divorce.
What If My Spouse’s Actions Caused Our Divorce?
No-fault divorce is the most common type of divorce in Connecticut because it’s less expensive, requires less time in court, and allows couples to keep a civil relationship intact. However, if your spouse’s marital misconduct caused your marriage to fail, then you have the option to ask the court for a “fault-based” divorce. Typically parties will use this type of divorce to gain an advantage over their spouse in other aspects of divorce, like property division, custody, or alimony.
The acceptable fault grounds in Connecticut include:
- fraudulent contract
- willful desertion for at least 12 months with a total neglect of duty
- at least 7 years absence from the marriage, without any communication
- habitual intemperance (alcohol or drug addiction)
- intolerable cruelty
- imprisonment of one spouse, or
- one spouse is mentally ill and legally confined to a mental institution for a minimum of 5 years within the past 6 years.
Unlike the no-fault divorce process, the party asking the court for a fault divorce has to be able to prove, with specific evidence, that the other spouse’s misconduct caused the relationship to fail.
Case Example: A husband proved adultery by demonstrating that his wife gave birth to a child over a year after he last had last spent time with her.
Any Alternatives to Divorce?
Yes. In addition to the traditional divorce process, couples can request a legal separation or annulment. Both, however, have specific requirements that are different than divorce.
In a legal separation, the proof needed by the petitioning spouse is the same proof as a divorce. The court also decides on the same issues it would decide in a divorce. This includes property division, child support, custody, and alimony. This big difference is that at the end, the couple is still legally married. This might sound like an unorthodox option, but for parties whose religion prohibits divorce it’s an excellent option. If the couple decides to divorce in the future, then the court can convert the separation into a divorce, if the spouses have not lived together as a married couple since the legal separation.
Annulment is rare, and unlike divorce and legal separation, the annulment process renders a couple’s marriage void, as though it never existed. Sometimes, annulment may be the only option to end a marriage. The grounds for annulment are pretty specific and include:
- duress or force
- mental incapacity of one spouse
- spouses are too closely related, or
- the state didn’t authorize the person who performed the ceremony.
Case Example: A woman told her boyfriend that she was pregnant with his baby, but knew it wasn’t his child. The husband discovered the truth after the couple married, but soon asked the court to void the marriage based on fraud. This was important because in many states the court presumes that the husband is the baby’s father, which would mean 18 years of responsibility for someone else’s child. The court agreed that the marriage was based on the wife’s fraudulent behavior and granted the husband’s request for an annulment.
Most divorces are uncontested, which means that the couples agree on all the major legal issues in a divorce. Connecticut calls uncontested divorces “uncontested dissolution of marriage,” but both terms mean the same thing. To obtain an uncontested divorce, you must meet the following requirements:
- at least one spouse must reside in Connecticut for 12 months before filing
- both parties must agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken, or to one of the other grounds for divorce
- neither spouse can have an open case involving the couple’s children
- both spouses submit a sworn financial statement to the court, and
- the spouses have resolved every issue in the divorce, including spousal support, child custody, child support, and property division.
You can ask for an uncontested divorce using the fault-based grounds, like cruelty or abandonment, but it’s easier for both parties to agree on the no-fault grounds for divorce because neither spouse must admit misconduct.
If you can not agree on custody, visitation, support, or any other family matters contact the Law Offices of Keith Anthony at (860) 333-6455. Attorney Keith Anthony can help you navigate thru this process, step by step and is open to assist you. If negotiations fail we can arrange mediation of your disputes. We can help you make agreements that can be filed with the court.