Law Talk

Oct 12 2018

How long do I have to wait to get divorced in Connecticut?

By: John Drapp

Posted in: Litigation, Family & Divorce

 

This is a question that I think I have answered in almost every divorce consultation I have ever had.  Often, the goal is to get divorced as quickly as possible. The answer to this question depends on whether there is an agreement as to all issues involved in the case. 

Connecticut law establishes a 90-day waiting period before a court can grant a divorce.  This 90-day period runs from the return day of the divorce action.  The return day, which is a date from which other periods of time are calculated, must be at least twelve days after the summons and complaint are served on the defendant.  Typically, however, the return day is approximately thirty days after the defendant is served.   In practice, this means that in general, the soonest you can get divorced is approximately four months after your spouse is served with the divorce papers.

But, there are exceptions to this general rule. 

If there is an agreement as to all the issues involved in the case, and certain criteria are met, a divorce can be granted in approximately 35 days without you or your spouse ever having to appear in court.  The criteria that must be met in order to qualify for a nonadversarial divorce are:

(1)  you have been married nine years or less;

(2)  neither you nor your spouse is pregnant;

(3)  no children were born to, or adopted by, you and your spouse during the marriage;

(4)  neither you nor your spouse have an interest in real estate;

(5)  the total value of all property owned by you and your spouse is less than $80,000;

(6)  neither you nor your spouse have a defined pension plan;

(7)  neither you nor your spouse have a bankruptcy petition pending;

(8)  there is no other dissolution of marriage action pending between you and your spouse; and

(9)  there are no restraining or protective orders between you and your spouse.

If all these criteria are met, then you are eligible to file a joint petition for a nonadversarial divorce.

It is important to note that the joint petition form specifically provides that you and your spouse each wave your respective rights to have a trial, to an appeal, and to alimony or spousal support. 

A nonadversarial divorce is only available to married parties who meet all the criteria listed above.  If the you do not meet all these criteria but still have an agreement with your spouse as to all financial issues and, if applicable, with respect to custody and visitation of your minor children, you can still get divorced on an expedited basis.  Connecticut law permits you and your spouse to waive the statutory time period at any time.  This means that as soon as you and your spouse reach an agreement as to all issues (which can be as early as the time the divorce is started), you can each waive the statutory time period and get divorced.  Unlike nonadversarial divorce, however, you will be required to appear in court to get divorced.

Another way that a divorce can proceed expeditiously is by default.  Your spouse (or his or her attorney) must file an appearance form with the court within thirty days of the return day.  If the appearance form is not filed within thirty days, you can ask the court for a default divorce which is typically granted a few weeks later.  You will have to appear in court for a default divorce. 

If your spouse (or his or her attorney) files an appearance form in the case, and you have a disagreement as to one or more issues involved in the divorce, the 90-day waiting period applies.  Of course, as noted above, if you come to an agreement with your spouse at any time, you can both still waive the statutory waiting period and get divorced before the waiting period expires.   

This information is subject to the terms of our disclaimer.


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