Many couples who have decided to divorce, have already decided on the terms of the divorce and just need assistance filing all of the appropriate paperwork. In many cases, couples who are candidates for an uncontested divorce, have been separated and living apart for some time. An uncontested divorce can be a quick, practical and affordable alternative to a contested divorce. Below is a brief explanation of the uncontested divorce process. If you are interested in having an uncontested divorce contact us to schedule a free consultation. If you have questions about any of the terms used in this guide, please see our Guide to Connecticut Family Law Terms and Definitions.
The term for divorce in Connecticut is “dissolution of marriage.” In order to initiate a dissolution proceeding, one party (this party will be the “plaintiff” in the action) must fill out a summons and complaint. The paperwork is then submitted to the clerk of the court, together with a filing fee of $350.00. Once received by the clerk, a docket number, return date and case management date will be assigned. The case management date is about 90 days from the date of filing and the earliest possible date on which the couple can be divorced. (The 90 day waiting period, often called a “cooling off period”, is mandatory in Connecticut.)
As a general rule, after filing the paperwork with the court, the other party (“the defendant”) must be served. This involves paying a marshal to deliver the paperwork to the other party. (Usually about $40.00.) Once the paperwork is served by the marshal, the marshal will execute a “Return of Service”, which is then filed with the court.
Service by a marshal may not always be necessary however. If the defendant consents to being served with the paperwork, he or she can file a “Waiver of Service.” If the waiver is signed it can be submitted with the initial paperwork and the plaintiff will not have to pay a marshal for service.
Whether the defendant is served by a marshal or signs a waiver, it is very important that he or she also files an “Appearance Form” so that court notices are received.
If there are no pressing issues * (i.e. child support, custody, distribution or possession of certain property) that need to be resolved prior to the case management date, than all that is left is to draft a final agreement that will be submitted on the day of the final divorce judgment. (Often times the case management date is the date that the divorce judgment is filed). It is very important that the agreement covers all things that could potentially give rise to a dispute after final judgment. This includes distribution of all property, automobiles, debts, assets and pets. The agreement should also always include provisions for custody, visitation, child support and alimony. Having a thorough and well written agreement will help avoid any potentially troublesome future issues and may save the parties from having to spend money to appear in court later.
* If either party would like the court to enter orders before the final judgment date, a “motion for pendente lite orders” must be filed. (See my Guide to Connecticut Family Law Terms and Definitions.)