What are the Grounds for Divorce in Connecticut?

Divorce Attorney Meghan Freed What Are the Automatic Order in a Connecticut DivorceOnce you have decided to divorce, you may find yourself wondering what the legal grounds are for divorce in Connecticut.  To learn more, please read on!

Connecticut Divorce Grounds

Connecticut has both “no fault” and “for fault” divorce.  Read on to learn more about the grounds for both “no fault” and “for fault” divorce.  Section 46b-40 of the Connecticut General Statutes lays out both the “no fault” and “for fault” grounds for divorce.

“No Fault” Divorce Grounds in Connecticut

  • The marriage has broken down irretrievably
  • The parties have lived apart by reason of incompatibility for a continuous period of at least the eighteen months immediately prior to the service of the complaint and that there is no reasonable prospect that they will be reconciled

In a no fault divorce, neither spouse must prove that the other is “at fault” in order to be granted a divorce.  Rather, you prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down with no reasonable prospect of reconciliation.  Either spouse’s testimony that the marriage has irretrievably broken down is sufficient for the court to order the divorce.

This can be confusing, but “no fault” does not mean that a court will never consider whether one spouse is the reason why the marriage broke down. Even in no fault divorces, the concept of fault is built into our law and judges can consider whether one spouse had a more significant role in breaking down the marriage when it comes to alimony and property division.  It’s important to note that although judges have the authority to adjust their orders based upon the cause of the breakdown (for example, adultery), there are many other factors that they take into account when making decisions about property distribution and alimony.

“For Fault” Divorce Grounds in Connecticut

  • Adultery
  • Fraudulent contract
  • Willful desertion for one year with total neglect of duty
  • Seven years’ absence, during all of which period the absent party has not been heard from
  • Habitual intemperance
  • Intolerable cruelty
  • Sentence to imprisonment for life or the commission of any infamous crime involving a violation of conjugal duty and punishable by imprisonment for a period in excess of one year
  • Legal confinement in a hospital or hospitals or other similar institution or institutions, because of mental illness, for at least an accumulated period totaling five years within the period of six years next preceding the date of the complaint.

Fault divorces are not as common and, in fact, it’s fairly unusual that they still exist as an option in Connecticut.  Most states no longer even recognize them.  No fault divorce also allows the couple to avoid calling friends or relatives to testify in court about the reasons for the breakdown of the marriage.  Unlike the no fault divorce process, parties asking the court for a fault divorce must be able to prove, with specific evidence, that a spouse’s misconduct caused the relationship to fail.  This is unappealing to many, and likely involves the testimony of family and friends and sets up a protracted, high conflict litigation.

Alternatives to Divorce

The two alternatives to divorce available in Connecticut are legal separation and annulment.

Separation

The grounds for separation are the same as the grounds for divorce.  The court decides the same issues it would decide in a divorce, such as property division, child support, parenting, and alimony. But, in the end, the couple is still legally married.

Read: Key Differences Between Connecticut Legal Separation and Divorce

Annulment

Annulment is rare, and unlike divorce and legal separation, an annulment process renders a couple’s marriage void, as though it never existed. The grounds for annulment are different from those for separation and divorce, one of our divorce attorneys can give you the lay of the land to help you decide which will work better for you.

Read: The Difference Between Annulment and Divorce in Connecticut

Next Steps

Now that you have learned more about the grounds for divorce in Connecticut, you may want to learn more about “How Alimony Works in Connecticut Divorces”  or the available alternative ways to divorce in Connecticut.

Our first step at Freed Marcroft, the Goals & Planning Conference, is designed to get to the heart of your problem and unveil your true goals.  Then, we take those goals along with the facts of your case and analyze them so that we can present you with recommendations and options on how to move forward.

Schedule your Goals & Planning Conference today, or contact us either here or by phone at 860-560-8160.

Written by Meghan Freed