Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Divorce
What are the mechanics of an action for divorce?
An action for dissolution of marriage, otherwise known as a divorce, is a lawsuit brought by one spouse against the other. The spouse who initiates the lawsuit is called the plaintiff, while the other spouse is called the defendant.
Does it matter who brings the action?
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.”
What percentage of cases are settled versus tried to the court?
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% of all cases are settled out of court.
What is an uncontested divorce?
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.
If the case is settled out of court, must you still go before the judge?
Once a case is settled, the parties and their lawyers typically appear before a judge in an 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.
How long does a divorce take?
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 12 months. If there is a “custody fight,” obtaining a divorce takes a year or more.
Does a spouse have to prove fault on the part of the other spouse to obtain a divorce?
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. The divorce cannot be prevented if either of the spouses thinks the marriage has broken down.
How is property divided in Connecticut?
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 court makes a decision to divide the marital pie in an equitable manner.
There are 12 factors that 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 of the parties 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.
How is the length and amount of alimony determined?
The same factors that 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 more the alimony payments are likely to be.
What does a divorce cost?
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 from $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.
Contact A Connecticut Divorce Attorney
To learn more about how we can help you with a legal matter, contact a Connecticut family law attorney at the LAW OFFICES OF PIAZZA & SIMMONS, LLC by calling us at 203-936-6772 or by completing our online contact form.
Three Questions About Property Division
One of the major issues when a marriage ends is how to divide all of the property a couple owns. Property and assets can mean a lot to spouses, and the amount of property they are awarded will help determine their financial situation moving forward after the marriage is dissolved. The following are three common questions about property division in Connecticut divorce cases.
What property can the court divide?
Unlike a lot of states, courts in Connecticut can consider all of the property and assets owned by a couple – not just the property acquired during marriage. This means that property brought into the marriage, gifts, and even inheritances may possibly be divided. In addition, the court can divide both real and personal property, which may include the following:
- Real property: Family homes, vacation homes, cabins, rental properties, commercial property, or any other type of building or land.
- Personal property: This includes almost everything else you can own, including furnishings, clothing, jewelry, appliances, collections, cars, monetary assets, retirement benefits, business interests and more.
How does the court decide about property division?
Connecticut law requires that the court divide property in an equitable manner, which means that the judge will aim for a fair division based on a number of factors, which include:
- How long the marriage lasted
- Any misconduct that caused the divorce
- The age, professional status, income level and needs of each spouse
- Any custody awards
- Premarital agreements
- Alimony awards
The court will take all relevant factors into consideration in deciding what division of property is the most equitable.
At what point in the case is property affected?
While a final property division order will be issued with your final divorce judgment, the court can make a temporary order while your divorce is pending. In addition, once the divorce case is filed, each spouse is prohibited from selling, transferring, or otherwise trying to “waste” or hide property from the other.
Consult With An Experienced Lawyer Today
Property division determinations can be complicated, especially if you and your spouse have significant assets. At the LAW OFFICES OF PIAZZA & SIMMONS, LLC, we can protect your interests and work to ensure you receive a fair property decision. If you may be getting divorced, please call us today at 203-936-6772 for more information.