How long does the divorce process take?

In Connecticut there is a 90 day waiting period before you can be divorced. If you have an agreement on all issues a final court date can be scheduled after 90 days have expired. In some instances it does take longer if there is no agreement or financial documents have not been completely exchanged or assets are being valued or custody is in dispute. In these situations, the court will set a schedule which will include a settlement conference and ultimately a trial date if an agreement is not reached.
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How much does a divorce cost?

The legal fees in a divorce vary depending on the complexity of the case and the issues involved. The initial costs consist of the court filing fee of $350 and the marshal fee, which is, on average, between $50 - $70. Most family attorneys require an initial retainer, which is billed against their hourly rate. There are instances where appraisals may need to be performed or an accountant will need to be hired or a therapist and/or psychologist will need to be involved, these are called expert fees.
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What is the difference between a legal separation and a divorce?

The process for filing a legal separation and a divorce in Connecticut is identical and the same issues are addressed; i.e, division of property and liabilities, support, custody and visitation. The only distinction is that at the end of a legal separation you are still married and at the end of a divorce you are single and free to remarry.
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How is child support and alimony calculated?

Connecticut has established guidelines in order to determine the amount of child support to be paid called the "child support guideline worksheet." The gross incomes of both parents are considered, together with certain deductions and the number of children and the worksheet will determine the amount to be paid in most situations. Alimony is based on certain statutory criteria where the court takes into consideration 12 factors: length of the marriage, causes for the breakdown, age, health, station, occupation, sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate and needs of the parties, property distribution, and desirability of each parent securing employment. (C.G.S. Section 46b-82)
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Does it matter who files first?

It does not matter who initiates the divorce action. The person filing is the plaintiff and they will pay the court filing fee and marshal fee and the person responding is the defendant.
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Do I forfeit any rights by moving out of the home?

You do not forfeit any legal rights by moving out of the home. You do not give up your rights to property. If there are children, you should provide the other parent with your new address.
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Will a prenuptial agreement be enforced and if no prenuptial agreement, what happens to the assets I owned before the marriage?

Prenuptial agreements in Connecticut are considered contracts and if entered into fairly and freely will be honored and enforced by the courts. On October 1, 1995, the Connecticut Legislative passed the Premarital Agreement Act that applies to all premarital agreements in the State of Connecticut executed after October 1, 1995. Generally the Act provides that the agreement will not be enforced if (l) the agreement was not entered into voluntarily; (2) the agreement was unconscionable when it was executed; (3) before execution of the agreement, the party was not provided with fair and reasonable financial disclosure; or (4) party was not afforded a reasonable opportunity to consult with independent counsel.

In the absence of a premarital agreement, the court may consider the premarital assets of one of the parties. The court will look at various factors including: length of the marriage, causes for the dissolution, age, health, station, occupation, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate, liabilities and needs of each of the parties, and the opportunity of each for the future acquisition of capital assets and income. The court will also consider the contribution of each of the parties in the acquisition, preservation, or appreciation in value of their respective estates.
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What are the different types of custody and do children go to court?

In general there are two types of custody that involve decision making which is joint legal or sole legal. In joint legal custody, the parties make the joint decisions together. In sole legal custody, one parent makes the decisions and keeps the other parent reasonably informed. The other part of custody is where do the children reside and that can be primarily with one parent and the other parent has reasonable visitation; or the time can be shared between two parents, and in the case of more than one child, custody can be split or in some unique situations, custody can be awarded to a third party. Children generally do not go to court. The judge will appoint a guardian ad litem or attorney for the child(ren) in order to advocate what is in the child(ren)'s best interest.
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Can I move out of state with the children, during the divorce process or after?

Once the divorce papers are served you can not move out of state with the children unless you have the agreement of the other parent in writing or a court order allowing you to do so. Relocating with the children after the divorce is finalized is a separate issue. This issue can be addressed as part of the final divorce. However in most cases, notice will need to be given to the other parent and if there is no agreement, then the parties will need to return to court for a determination of whether the children may relocate with the parent. The court will look at the reason for the move and the affect on the children and ultimately the court will make a decision on what is in the best interest of the child(ren).
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Do I need to make a new will after the divorce?

Yes, even though your divorce document states that your former spouse can not inherit your property, your will should be changed to specify your intent of where you want your property to go. Documents such as trust, life insurance policies, retirement accounts and living wills must be changed after the divorce is the intent is to remove your former spouse.
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What do I bring to my first consultation appointment?

There are no required documents that are needed for a consultation. It is helpful however if you can bring the most current tax return and current paystub(s).
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