Experienced New Canaan Divorce Lawyer
In Connecticut, divorce is known legally as “dissolution of marriage.”
For many families, divorce is extremely complicated and may involve a lot of sadness, anger, stress and confusion. At the Family Law Firm of Healy + Eliot, we work to make the divorce process more manageable and less stressful by thoroughly explaining all relevant legal issues and responding to each client's individual needs. Our goal is to help our clients achieve the custody arrangements they need, emotional peace of mind, and the necessary financial security to successfully rebuild and restart their lives following a divorce.
As most people are unfamiliar with the legalities surrounding divorce, our lawyers can help you create and execute a plan to effectively manage the difficulties that come with ending a marriage. Some of these difficulties are transitioning to one income, separating households, sharing parental responsibilities and dividing property accumulated during your marriage. We will take the time to listen to your concerns and guide you through every aspect of your case.
Do I Need to Prove "Fault" to Get Divorced?
Connecticut recognizes "no-fault" divorce. This means that a party seeking a divorce is not required to allege "fault" grounds, such as adultery or cruel treatment, in order to dissolve a marriage. Rather, a person who wishes to divorce must simply allege that their marriage has "broken down irretrievably." Most divorces in Connecticut are granted on the grounds of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. Notably, while fault grounds are not required to obtain a divorce in Connecticut, this does not mean that marital fault has no relevance in a Connecticut divorce. This is a common misperception. In fact, "cause of the breakdown" of the marriage is one of the statutory criteria that courts must consider when assigning property and/or ordering alimony. If fault is an issue in your divorce, we encourage you to consult with one of our New Canaan divorce lawyers as soon as possible.
Residency Requirements for a Connecticut Divorce
Just like all states, Connecticut has its own set of laws (commonly referred to as “residency requirements”) which dictate whether Connecticut has jurisdiction over a divorce. Connecticut's divorce residency requirements authorize courts here to grant a divorce if any one of the the following criteria are met.
- One of the parties to the marriage has been a resident of Connecticut for at least twelve months immediately prior to the date of the filing of the Complaint;
- One of the parties to the marriage has been a resident of Connecticut for at least twelve months immediately prior to the date of the date of the divorce decree.
- One of the parties was domiciled in Connecticut at the time of the marriage and returned to this state with the intention of permanently remaining before filing the Complaint.
- The cause for the dissolution of the marriage arose after either party moved into the state.
How Does an Action for Divorce Begin?
A divorce action is commenced when one spouse files a legal document, called a Complaint, requesting to end the marriage. The Complaint must be filed in the appropriate Judicial District depending on where you or your spouse lives. For example, if you live in New Canaan, your divorce case can be filed at either the Judicial District of Stamford or the Judicial District of Fairfield. Once the Complaint is signed, it must be then served upon your spouse by a Marshal and subsequently filed with the Court.
After a Divorce Action is Commenced, What Comes Next?
While Connecticut is a “no-fault” divorce state, this does not mean that divorce is a simple matter. A divorce judgment can be entered only after various ancillary issues emanating from the marriage have been resolved, including child custody issues, if applicable, and financial issues such as equitable distribution (i.e., division of assets and liabilities), spousal support, and child support. Successfully resolving these aspects of divorce often requires highly strategic decisions and a sophisticated understanding of one's rights and obligations. A resolution of these issues also requires “discovery.”
What is the Discovery Phase of a Divorce?
Discovery is the exchange of financial records of all types (such as tax returns, bank statements or pay-stubs), which allows the parties and their respective attorneys to gain a full and complete understanding of the parties' respective incomes, expenses, assets, and liabilities. It can also involve some investigatory work if one party suspects that the other is not “coming clean.” Discovery may also include depositions, which are oral examinations under oath of each party and sometimes of third-party witnesses.
As part of the discovery process, where there are real properties, businesses, professional practices or other tangible or intangible assets that are considered relevant to the marriage, professional evaluators are often retained, at the parties' expense, to do the necessary appraisals or valuations. In the case of contested custody matters, forensic psychological experts may be retained, also at the parties' expense, to evaluate the family situation with an eye to a court decision on custody, visitation and other parental matters. In contested custody cases, a Guardian Ad Litem may also be appointed to represent the best interests of the children during the case.
Negotiated Settlements and Trials
Typically, once the discovery phase is completed, negotiations can begin between the parties and their counsel with the goal of reaching a comprehensive divorce settlement that is reduced to a written agreement. It is estimated that more than 95% of divorce cases are resolved by an out-of-court settlement. While our New Canaan divorce lawyers are top-notch litigators, we much prefer to resolve cases for our clients by agreement, in an efficient and cost-effective manner, and we take tremendous pride in our ability to negotiate favorable, strategic, and creative settlements on behalf of our clients at this stage of the process.
When a case cannot settle, it is set down for trial before a judge. Depending on the complexity of the issues, trial can take days or even weeks to complete. At trial, the skill, experience and effectiveness of the attorneys are of paramount importance. The attorneys representing you should possess the ability to clearly educate clients; should have a thorough knowledge of the law and of procedure and evidence; and should have facility with numbers and the ability to unravel complex financial issues. And they should be able authoritatively and convincingly to present your case to the court. The attorneys at The Family Law Firm of Healy + Eliot, possess all of these skills and are all experienced and effective courtroom advocates.
Connect with One of Our Experienced New Canaan Divorce Lawyers Today
To schedule an in-person or virtual appointment with one of our New Canaan divorce lawyers, please call 203-652-8018 or complete our online contact form.