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Connecticut Divorce Law

Connecticut divorce law can be complex, and there are exceptions to the rules. A local Connecticut divorce lawyer can explain how Connecticut divorce laws can specifically affect you and your family. Learn about the major mistakes people can make during the divorce process.

For your convenience, the chart below summarizes a few of the key concepts of Connecticut's divorce laws:

Connecticut State Laws

  • Fault/No-Fault: Fault
  • Property Distribution:Equitable
  • ADR Available: Yes
  • Parenting Plan Required: Yes

Connecticut Grounds for Divorce

In Connecticut, you can file for divorce under no fault or fault grounds. The Connecticut divorce court will approve a divorce or legal separation decree on no fault grounds if the marriage has broken down irretrievably or the spouses have lived separate because of incompatibility for a continuous period of 18 months. In no fault divorce, couples must recognize Connecticut divorce waiting periods that help make sure the couple reuniting isn't a possibility.

Fault divorce will be granted on the grounds of:

  • Adultery
  • Fraud
  • Willful desertion for one year
  • Absence for seven years
  • Habitual intemperance
  • Intolerable cruelty
  • Imprisonment for one year
  • Mental illness for five years

Willful desertion is defined by Connecticut divorce law as total neglect of duty. Lack of financial support will not prove total neglect if there isn't other evidence. Connecticut divorce law defines adultery as voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and a person other than that person's spouse. The Connecticut divorce court will consider habitual intemperance as a sufficient ground for divorce if it can be proven that it has existed until the time of separation.

Whether you file under the grounds of no fault or fault, the couple needs to meet the Connecticut residency requirement.

Connecticut Residency Requirements

Most states have state residency requirements for divorce. Under Connecticut divorce law, a couple may enter a divorce or legal separation decree if one of the spouses has been a resident of the state for as least one year before filing for divorce or before the date of the decree.

The Connecticut divorce courts will also accept a divorce decree if one of the spouses was domiciled in the state at the time of the marriage and returned to the state with the intention to remain permanently before filing the divorce petition. You may also file for divorce in Connecticut if the cause for the divorce happened after either spouse moved into the state.

The different between being a resident and domiciled in Connecticut can be tricky to understand. With help from a local Connecticut divorce lawyer, you can find out if you meet the requirements to have established residency or domicile.

Connecticut Divorce Waiting Period

Most state divorce laws have divorce waiting periods during the divorce process to determine if reconciliation is possible. Divorce waiting periods may happen before or after the divorce petition is filed in divorce court. State divorce laws may also choose to establish a remarriage waiting period that orders one or both spouses to wait a period of time once the divorce is final before remarrying.

Connecticut divorce waiting periods require a 18 month waiting period before filing for no fault divorce. The Connecticut grounds for divorce you choose to file under may affect the length of your divorce and divorce waiting periods. One of the spouses must also meet the Connecticut residency requirement before the divorce decree will be accepted by the divorce court. There is then a 90 day divorce waiting period after filing for divorce that starts from the return date of the divorce decree.

There is not a remarriage waiting period set by the Connecticut divorce court, but one may be set if the court feels that it's appropriate with the circumstances of the divorce.

Connecticut Alternatives to Divorce


Connecticut divorce law doesn't have specific statutes dedicated to annulment. The grounds for annulment may be found in other domestic relations statutes and in common law. When a marriage is annulled, it's as though it didn't exist because the marriage wasn't legal under Connecticut law. A marriage will be considered void or voidable and can be annulled if:

  • The family relation between the spouses is considered too close by Connecticut law
  • The ceremony was conducted by someone who isn't authorized to perform marriage - it may be possible to have the marriage validated
  • One spouse was under 16 and didn't have consent
  • The marriage was entered into through fraud, duress or without consent
  • It's a bigamous marriage
  • Other relevant grounds ruled on by the Connecticut divorce court

Legal Separation

Legal separation is granted by the Connecticut divorce court on the same grounds as Connecticut grounds for divorce. Under Connecticut divorce law, legal separation has the same effect as dissolving a marriage, except parties aren't free to remarry.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Alternative dispute resolution helps couples negotiate the terms of divorce with a neutral third party, typically costing people less money and time. Connecticut divorce law allows a couple to try divorce mediation to discuss and decide property division, child custody and visitation and alimony. Everything talked about during divorce mediation cannot be used in divorce court, unless the spouses agree otherwise. The Connecticut divorce court may also allow the couple to negotiate child visitation during divorce mediation.

Connecticut divorce law also allows either a spouse or divorce lawyer for the minor child to make a request for conciliation. If the request is granted by the divorce court, the parties will meet with a conciliator for two mandatory consultations to discuss the possibility of reconciliation or resolving emotional problems that could lead to continuing conflicts after divorce.

Connecticut Property Division

Connecticut is an equitable distribution state, meaning the Connecticut divorce court has the power to assign the spouses any part of the other spouse's estate. In property distribution, equitable means what the divorce courts consider to be fair, not equal.

The Connecticut divorce court uses the following factors when determining property division in divorce:

  • Length of marriage
  • Connecticut grounds for divorce sited in the petition
  • Age, health, station of each spouse
  • Occupation, vocational skills and employability
  • Estate
  • Liability and special needs of the spouses
  • Amount and source of income and future earning capacity
  • Prospect for future acquisition of assets and income

Connecticut Alimony

The Connecticut divorce court may award alimony to either spouse, which may also be referred to as spousal support or maintenance. When determining an alimony award, as well as the duration and amount of the award, the Connecticut divorce court will consider:

  • Length of the marriage
  • Connecticut grounds for divorce or cause of the couple pursuing Connecticut alternatives to divorce
  • Each spouse's age, health, station, occupation, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate and needs
  • Desirability of a parent who has Connecticut child custody to secure employment

Connecticut Child Custody

Divorce courts tend to want to assign joint child custody so the child can have a continuing and lasting relationship with both parents; however, joint custody isn't always possible because of the circumstances of the divorce. When determining child custody, the Connecticut divorce court will use the key standard of what's in the best interest of the child.

The Connecticut divorce court presumes that joint child custody is in the best interest of the child but uses other child custody considerations, including:

  • Temperament and developmental needs of the child
  • Ability of the parents to understand and meet the needs of the child
  • Parents' wishes regarding child custody
  • Past and present interaction and relationship between the child and parents, siblings and other people who may significantly affect the best interests of the child
  • Willingness and ability of each parent to encourage a continuing relationship between the other parent and child, including complying with court orders
  • Any manipulation or coercive behavior by the parents to involve the child in a dispute
  • Ability of each parent to be involved in the child's life
  • Child's ability to adjust to the home, school and community environment
  • Length of time the child has lived in a stable and satisfactory environment
  • Mental and physical health of everyone involved
  • Child's cultural background
  • Abuse and neglect by parents or siblings
  • If the parties involved participated in a parenting education program mandated by the state

Connecticut Grandparent Visitation

Most states don't automatically grant visitation rights for grandparents, but it may be possible to petition for child visitation rights. In Connecticut, the divorce court will make an order granting child visitation to grandparents or any other person once an application for visitation rights has been filed with the court. To make or modify the order, the Connecticut divorce court will use what's in the best interest of the child and consider the wishes of the child, if he or she is capable of having an intelligent opinion.

Connecticut Child Support

The Connecticut divorce court may order either parent to pay child support, depending on the circumstances of the divorce. Child support is calculated by estimating the amount of support the child would have received if the family had stayed together. The estimate is divided proportionally between the parents, depending on each person's income. Connecticut has child support guidelines to determine child support orders, but the divorce court may choose to alter the guidelines based on some of the following child support factors:

  • Financial resources of the child
  • Age, health and station of the parents
  • Each parent's occupation, earning capacity, amount and sources of income, vocation skills and employability
  • The child's age and health
  • Occupation, vocational skills, employability of the child
  • The child's estate and needs
  • Relative financial means of the parents

The Connecticut divorce court can order either parent to provide health insurance for the child.

Connecticut Child Support Enforcement

If parents don't pay the ordered Connecticut child support, the Connecticut divorce law has penalties to collect unpaid child support. Under Connecticut divorce law, the divorce court may use the following penalties for child support enforcement:

  • Withholding income and federal tax refunds
  • Liens against property
  • Contempt of court
  • Suspending driver's, professional and occupational licenses

States have established child support enforcement agencies to help collect the unpaid child support and secure a child's financial future after divorce.

The official child support guidelines will be followed and presumed correct unless it can be proven that the child support amount would be inequitable or inappropriate with the circumstances of the divorce.

Please understand this information is provided for illustration purposes only and is not legal advice. Call 877-349-1310 or fill out a Connecticut divorce case review form to connect with a local sponsoring Connecticut divorce lawyer. Find out how you can protect your rights during the Connecticut divorce process.

Case Evaluation

The above synopsis of Connecticut divorce laws is by no means all-inclusive and has been adapted from applicable state laws. These laws may have changed since our last update and there may be additional laws that apply in your situation. For the latest information on these divorce laws, please contact a local Connecticut divorce lawyer in your area.

This "Connecticut Divorce Laws" page was last updated May 2009.

Note: Keep in mind that all divorce laws are complex. If you need legal divorce advice or want to fully understand how these laws affect you, please speak with a local divorce attorney.