Connecticut No-Fault Divorce

Shot of a young couple sitting back to back with arms folded across chests.Concept for Connecticut No-Fault Divorce.

In Connecticut, anyone who wants a divorce is legally entitled to get one. You can’t be forced to stay in a marriage against your wishes once the relationship has broken down. This is what is commonly called Connecticut no-fault divorce.

Is Connecticut a “No-Fault” Divorce State?

The short answer is yes, Connecticut is a “no-fault” divorce state, in the sense that you do not have to prove fault in order to end your marriage. All that is necessary to get a divorce is to prove that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. Your spouse cannot object to the entry of a judgment of divorce based on the idea that he or she did nothing wrong. Although this should not be taken lightly, as a practical matter courts assume that to be the case if at least one spouse is seeking a dissolution of the marriage.

In practice, this means that one of the spouses will testify (often at a short, uncontested hearing) that there has been an “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage with no hope of reconciliation.” In other words, you and your spouse no longer want to be married, and you’re not going to change your mind anytime soon. If yours is one of the less than 5% of divorce cases that goes to trial, your divorce attorney will ask you questions about the breakdown of the marriage during your testimony before the court.

Grounds for Divorce in Connecticut

While most Connecticut divorces are granted as no-fault divorces, the law also provides other grounds for divorce:

  1. The parties have lived apart for at least 18 months with no reasonable prospect that they will be reconciled;
  2. Adultery;
  3. Fraudulent contract;
  4. Wilful desertion for 1 year with total neglect of duty;
  5. 7 years' absence, during all of which period the absent party has not been heard from;
  6. Habitual intemperance;
  7. Intolerable cruelty;
  8. Conviction of certain crimes with a jail or prison sentence of more than 1 year;
  9. Legal confinement to a mental health hospital or facility for a total of 5 out of the last 6 years before the divorce complaint.

For the most part, these other grounds for divorce are historical left-overs. Before Connecticut no-fault divorce was allowed, spouses would have to prove one of these grounds in order to end their marriage. But this was often difficult, and unnecessary, especially when both spouses were ready to move on from the marriage. So, “friendly divorces”, in which both sides stipulated to such grounds, became commonplace. Now, the breakdown of the marriage relationship itself is enough to get a divorce.

Does Fault Matter in a Connecticut Divorce?

While there are no fault requirements for obtaining a judgment of divorce, fault – both personal and financial – are still relevant in a Connecticut divorce. Fault is one of several factors that Connecticut judges may consider in dividing marital property and awarding spousal support. Although a court will listen to testimony on such matters (in other words, fault is relevant), the judgment will usually turn mostly on financial factors. It’s possible that fault-based facts may be more relevant to the details of your child custody determination. But how much weight to give fault-related facts is entirely up to the judge. Still, it is a good idea to fully discuss your reasons for wanting a divorce with your divorce attorney. That way, they can make certain all the relevant evidence is put before the judge, and make an argument for a fair and equitable outcome based on the circumstances of your case.

The family law attorneys at Lawrence & Jurkiewicz, LLC in Torrington, Connecticut represent divorcing spouses and parents throughout the greater Hartford area and the Litchfield County area. Connecticut divorce attorney Ed Jurkiewicz is a member of the Connecticut Council for Non-Adversarial Divorce, the Family Law Section of the Connecticut Bar Association, and the Litchfield County Collaborative Divorce Group. We can help spouses looking to end their marriage without throwing blame or accusations of fault. We offer consultations by in-person appointment, phone conferences and zoom meetings. Please call us at (860) 264-1551 or contact us to schedule a confidential consultation to see how we can help you.

Categories: Divorce