A Connecticut divorce attorney is often asked “What are the most important dates in a divorce case? Is it the date I file for divorce, the return date, the case management date, the uncontested date– what does it all mean?” This article is a general guide to understanding what some of the more important dates that someone getting divorced in Connecticut should know. Whether you are getting divorced and live in Darien, New Canaan, Westport, Greenwich, Stamford, Fairfield or Hartford, these dates all have the same meaning.
Date of filing the action: This is not the date the papers are served upon your spouse but rather the date that they are filed with the court along with proof that service by a Marshal has occurred.
Return date: The return date is actually the date that the court considers to be the start of the divorce action. It is typically approximately two (2) weeks after the date of filing and it is from this date that the 90-day waiting period or case management date is established. Nothing will occur in court on the actual return date and it is not necessary for anyone to appear that day.
Case Management date: The case management date is often referred to as one of the most important dates at the start of a Connecticut divorce case. It is the first day (with the exception of recent limited circumstances) in which you can actually be divorced. This 90-day period between the return date and the case management date is commonly referred to as the “cooling off” period. If the parties submit a signed temporary parenting plan and financial affidavits to the court prior to the case management date then they do not need to appear in court on that date. If the parties do not have both a signed parenting plan and sworn financial affidavits then the parties are required to appear.
Status conference: A status conference is a date assigned by the court sometime after the case management date. The purpose of the status conference (there may be more than one during a case) is for the court to keep tabs on the discovery and divorce process to ensure everyone is doing what is required.
Special Masters/Pre-Trial Conference: This is a date in which the parties and their counsel must appear in court to work in a mediation setting to attempt to resolve the case.
Trial Management Conference- This usually occurs approximately ten (10) days before the trial. It is on this day that parties must exchange specific documents including updated financial affidavits, witness lists, exhibit lists and proposed orders on how they would like to see the court resolve the case.
Trial date: This is when you would start your trial.
Uncontested date: If you are able to resolve your case without a trial, the uncontested date is the date you would submit to the court your divorce settlement agreement, updated financial affidavits and accompanying documents to get divorced.
Of course, all of the above related dates have various consequences and circumstances which your Connecticut divorce lawyer should explain in advance so you are well prepared.