This Week’s Blog by Lauren M. Healy
Let’s face it – everyone knows someone who is divorced or going through a divorce. You may start the divorce process already armed with questions and misconceptions. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about family law in Connecticut.
Am I Allowed to Date During my Divorce?
Your divorce action has been filed in Connecticut. Are you and your spouse now “allowed” to start dating other people? The short answer is, yes. However, while you are not legally prevented from dating during the pendency of your divorce, use discretion. The divorce process is already emotional, even before you add third parties to the mix. The implications of dating during the divorce are different in every case, and can depend on many factors, such as whether children are impacted or if assets are being spent.
Does the Party Who Files for Divorce have an Advantage?
In Connecticut, it does not matter if you are the Plaintiff (the party who initially files the divorce action) or the Defendant (the responding party). There is no presumption of guilt or fault either way. If your case goes to a Hearing or a Trial, the Plaintiff will present to the Judge first, and the Defendant will go second. Otherwise, Plaintiffs and Defendants are treated the same.
You may have personal reasons as to why you would prefer to be the person initiating the divorce action or the person responding to it. At Broder & Orland LLC, we try to take these preferences into consideration when deciding how to start the case.
Can I Change the Locks on my House During my Divorce?
In Connecticut, we have automatic orders (Connecticut Practice Book §25-5) that address this issue. If you are living together with your spouse on the date that the action is started, you may not deny him or her use of the current primary residence. If you believe that your circumstances warrant exclusive possession of the primary residence, you can file a Motion with the Court to request an order which prevents your spouse from living in the home during the divorce.
Do I Need to have a Reason for Filing for Divorce, Such as Adultery or Abandonment?
Connecticut is a no-fault divorce state. This means that neither party has to prove, and a Judge does not need to make a finding, that one spouse is at fault for the breakdown of the marriage. Instead, in Connecticut, a party can file on the grounds of “irretrievable breakdown,” which is a claim that the marriage has broken down permanently without hope of reconciliation. Most Connecticut divorces are filed this way.
If you file for divorce on the basis of irretrievable breakdown, you may still argue that your spouse’s actions caused the breakdown of your marriage. However, such facts will go to the Judge’s decision about the division of assets and alimony and not to the issue of whether or not a divorce should be granted.
How Are Assets Divided in a Connecticut Divorce?
Whether your case is resolved by agreement or a trial court order, in Connecticut, a Judge must find that the arrangement is equitable. Equitable does not always mean even, and assets are not necessarily divided 50/50 between spouses. Your assets will be divided in a way that is fair based on the circumstances of your case. Considerations include the length of your marriage, the nature of your estate, the employability of you and your spouse and the contributions of each spouse, as well as several other factors.
Broder & Orland LLC encourages potential clients to arrange for an initial consultation in either our Westport or Greenwich office in order to ask questions, dispel misconceptions and gain knowledge about the divorce process in Connecticut.