Divorce in CT. An action for dissolution of marriage, otherwise known as a divorce, is a lawsuit brought by one spouse against the other. The spouse that initiates the lawsuit is called the plaintiff, while the other spouse is called the defendant.
There is no negative connotation attributable to the spouse who brings the action or to the person who defends the action. Some attorneys like to be in the position of bringing the action because, to a certain extent, they can control the pace of the case. Also, if the case must be tried to the court, the plaintiff tells his or her story first to the judge and, as the saying goes, “first impressions are lasting impressions.”
The State of Connecticut is currently compiling statistics as to what percentage of the cases actually are tried to a conclusion. However, it is realistic to conclude that 85-90 percent of all cases are settled out of court.
An uncontested divorce occurs when the parties reach an agreement on all issues including the division of their assets, the payment of alimony and child support, custody of the children and other matters relating to the divorce.
Once a case is settled, the parties and their lawyers typically appear before a judge in a uncontested hearing, whereby the judge reviews the parties’ affidavits and approves the settlement. The terms of the settlement will be incorporated into the judgment for dissolution of marriage. Depending upon the facts and circumstances of your matter you and your spouse may not have to appear in court.
That depends. There is a 90-day waiting period, which starts to run a few weeks after the Complaint is served on the other. In most cases, State law requires this 90 day waiting period, although there are exceptions that may apply. A more realistic projection of the time it takes to obtain a divorce is between three and twelve months. If there is a “custody fight”, a year or more.
We have no-fault divorce in Connecticut. This means that either party can bring an action for dissolution of marriage based on irretrievable breakdown. However, if the parties cannot settle their case, fault can be taken into consideration by the judge when he or she makes a determination on the amount of alimony and property distribution. Neither spouse can prevent the divorce if the other thinks the marriage has broken down.
There are no set formulas for the division of property. All assets acquired during the marriage, whether by gift, inheritance or through a spouse’s employment, are included in the marital pie. Connecticut has equitable distribution, which means that the marital pie is divided in a manner, which the court decrees, is equitable.
There are 12 factors which the court can consider in dividing these assets, including the length of the marriage; the causes for the dissolution of marriage; the age, health, station, occupation, amount and source of income; vocational skills; employability; estate, liabilities and needs of each of the parties, the opportunity of each for future acquisition of capital, assets and income; and the contribution of each of the parties in the acquisition, preservation or appreciation value of the assets. The court also must consider the value of a homemaker’s contributions to the family when dividing the assets in the marriage.
The same factors which are considered by the court in determining the asset split are considered in connection with the determination of alimony, plus a consideration as to whether the parent with custody of minor children should obtain employment outside the home. The initial analysis for determining the amount of alimony is the needs of the alimony recipient and the income of the spouse who is asked to pay alimony. As with a division of the marital pie, there is no formula for determining the amount of alimony or the length of time during which it is paid. Generally, the longer the marriage, the longer alimony will be paid.
Attorney’s fees are to be based upon a number of factors, including the time expended, the complexities of the issues involved, the degree of difficulty of the matter, the results achieved, and extraordinary time or demands placed upon an attorney from representing other clients. Of these factors, the time expended is generally the most important. Hourly rates of attorneys in Fairfield County who specialize only in matrimonial law range form $250 per hour to rates in excess of $700 per hour.
Attorneys will require that a retainer be paid at the beginning of an action. This is typically viewed as an advance against the final fee, and a refresher retainer may be required if the bill to date exceeds the amount of the original retainer. The attorney for the client frequently executes the retainer agreement, which specially sets forth how the fee will be determined.
To learn more about how we can help you with a legal matter, contact a family law attorney at the Law Offices of Piazza, Simmons & Grant, L.L.C., by calling us at 203-348-2465 or by completing our online contact form to speak with a Connecticut Family Law Attorney.