How Do I Commence an Action for Divorce in Connecticut?

This Week’s Blog by Nicole M. DiGiose

What Documents Must be Prepared and Served Upon my Spouse in order to Commence an Action for Divorce?

In order to commence an action for divorce in Connecticut, the following documents must be prepared and served upon your spouse: a Summons, a Complaint, a Notice of Automatic Orders, and a blank Appearance form.  

What is a Summons?

A Summons is a notice to a Defendant that he or she is being sued.  In a divorce case, a box will be checked indicating that the Plaintiff is seeking a dissolution of marriage from the Defendant.  The only information contained in a Summons is the location and address of the Court where the action will be heard, each party’s name and address, a Return Date, and a Case Management Date.  A Summons will be signed by your attorney.

What is a Complaint?

A Complaint sets forth the legal and factual basis for the divorce action.  The following information will be contained in a Complaint: each party’s name, including any maiden name(s), if applicable, a statement establishing the Court’s jurisdiction to hear the case, the names and dates of birth of any child(ren) under the age of twenty-three, a statement indicating whether either party or any child(ren) have received state aid and/or public assistance, and a statement setting forth the grounds for the divorce, and a statement that the marriage of the parties has broken down irretrievably.  A Complaint will also state, in very general terms, the relief sought from the other party.  A Complaint will be signed by your attorney.  

What are the Automatic Orders?

The Automatic Orders are “stand still” orders meant to maintain the status quo during the pendency of a divorce action with respect to financial matters, as well as child-related matters.  The Automatic Orders become binding on the Plaintiff when his or her attorney signs the initial documents, and they become binding upon the Defendant upon service.  

What is an Appearance Form?

An Appearance form will be completed by either by your spouse, if he or she chooses to represent him or herself, or by his or her attorney.  The Defendant’s Appearance indicates to the Plaintiff that the Defendant will be participating in the case.  It also ensures that the Defendant receives notice of all documents and pleadings filed in the action.  An Appearance will list the name and address of a self-represented party, or his or her attorney, as well as a statement as to whether that individual agrees to accept service of documents and pleadings electronically.

Who Serves the Initial Documents on my Spouse?

Initial papers for a divorce must be served by a State Marshal.

Must my Spouse be Served with the Initial Papers Personally?

Not necessarily.  If your spouse has already retained an attorney, it is possible that the initial papers may be served on his or her attorney, if that attorney is authorized to accept the initial papers on your spouse’s behalf.  If you spouse has not already retained an attorney, the initial papers must be served on your spouse.  This may be accomplished by having the initial papers personally served upon your spouse, or by having them left at your spouse’s usual place of abode.

What Happens After my Spouse is Served with the Initial Papers?

After your spouse has been served, the initial papers will be filed with the Court, together with proof that service has been made by a State Marshal.  The initial papers must be filed with the Court on or before the Return Date specified in the Summons and Complaint.    

At Broder & Orland LLC, we have extensive experience in commencing divorce actions throughout Fairfield County and Connecticut.  Our attorneys will ensure that you fully understand exactly what this process entails.