Connecticut Divorce Laws

Filing for divorce is never an easy decision, but when you realize that your marriage cannot be fixed, you may need to take this step. Understanding the laws surrounding the process can help as you begin.

Who Can File for Divorce and On What Grounds

In order to file for divorce in Connecticut, at least one of the parties in the marriage will need to be a resident of the state for a minimum of 12 months prior to the divorce filing, unless the cause for the dissolution of the marriage arose after either party moved into the state or one of the parties lived in the state at the time of the marriage and has returned to reside there permanently before filing.

Connecticut is a no-fault state for divorce. In order to file a no-fault divorce, the filer must claim that the marriage has broken down irretrievably or that the parties have lived apart by reason of incompatibility for 18 continuous months. Grounds for fault-based divorce include the following:

  • Fraud
  • Adultery
  • Willful desertion for a period of one year
  • A seven year absence without contact from the absent party
  • Habitual intemperance
  • Intolerable cruelty, both mental and verbal
  • Mental illness for a period of five years
  • Imprisonment for a period of greater than one year

The laws define willful desertion as a total neglect of the individual’s duty to the family, with the exception of financial support. In other words, if the individual willfully leaves the home and does not perform any familial duties, but still maintains a financial support, the grounds still stand.

Individuals who are serving in the armed services can claim the residency requirements if they live in Connecticut when their deployment starts, even if they are stationed elsewhere. Individuals stationed in Connecticut may need to seek the help of an attorney to determine whether or not they meet the state’s residency requirements.

Division of Property

Connecticut follows the equitable distribution model. This means that couples who cannot reach a settlement about their property will have the courts divide it according to what is considered fair, not necessarily equal. Many factors are considered in this division, and these include:

  • Length of the marriage
  • Cause for separation or divorce.
  • Age, health, occupation, income, estate, vocational skills, and employability of each member of the union.
  • Liabilities and needs of each individual.
  • Contribution of each party to the acquisition, preservation, or appreciation of the items in the estate.

Child Custody

The Connecticut family courts urge parents who are separating to work together to create a parenting plan. In instances where they cannot do so, the courts will make the decision based on what is in the best interests of the child. In most instances, they will strive to set up a joint custody arrangement, but only when the parents can prove this is in the child’s best interests. Factors considered in the decision include:

  • Cause of the break up of the marriage, if it affects the child.
  • Whether or not the parents have participated in a parenting education program.

Connecticut also will sometimes appoint counseling for children who are traumatized by divorce.


Some cases of divorce will end with a court decree that one individual must support the other on a permanent or temporary basis. Factors considered in this decision are the same as those considered when dividing property. If children are involved, the child support payments will be calculated based on the Income Shares Model, which divides the children’s financial needs proportionally with the parent’s incomes. Factors considered include the age, health, occupation, station, earning capacity, amount and sources of income, estate, skills, and employability of both the parents and the child, as well as the specific needs of the child.