Contemplating divorce is difficult. Whether or not you are sure you want to end your marriage, you should learn the basics of divorce law in Connecticut. If you decide that divorce is the best option,  it is important to seek the assistance of an experienced family law attorney like Joseph E. DePaola who has thirty years of experience helping families just like yours.

Before a divorce may be granted, five basic issues typically must be resolved. They are:

  • Alimony/spousal support
  • Property and debt division
  • Child custody
  • Visitation/parenting time
  • Child support

If you and your spouse can reach an agreement on these issues, then the divorce is uncontested. If you and your spouse cannot agree, the divorce is contested. You can can go to trial to resolve these issues. This usually means that a family court judge will make the final decisions. There are many alternatives to going to court that you should consider such as mediation, and collaborative divorce.

Still have questions? Ask Joe or call him at 203-239-5844

Summary (or Quick) Divorce

An expedited divorce procedure is available to couples who haven’t been married for eight years or less, don’t own much property, don’t have children, and don’t have significant joint debts. Both spouses need to agree to the divorce, and you must file court papers jointly.

Uncontested Divorce

The best choice is an uncontested divorce. This option can be used when you and your spouse work together to agree on the terms of your divorce, and file court papers cooperatively to make the divorce happen. There will be no formal trial, and you probably won’t have to ever appear in court. We can help.

Default Divorce

The court will grant a divorce by “default” if you file for divorce and your spouse does not respond. The divorce is granted even though your spouse doesn’t participate in the court proceedings at all. A default divorce might happen, for example, if your spouse has left for parts unknown and can’t be found. We can help.

Fault and No-Fault Divorce

Connecticut offers the option of “no-fault” divorce. In a no-fault divorce, instead of proving that one spouse is to blame, you merely tell the court that you and your spouse have “irreconcilable differences” or have suffered an “irremediable breakdown” of your relationship. We can help.

Mediated Divorce

In divorce mediation, a neutral third party, called a mediator, sits down with you and your spouse to try to help you resolve all of the issues in your divorce. The mediator doesn’t make any decisions; that’s up to you and your spouse. Instead, the mediator helps you communicate with each other until you can come to an agreement.

(See Divorce Mediation for more on this type of divorce process).

Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative divorce involves working an attorney, but in a different way from the usual expectation.You and your spouse each hire lawyers who are trained to work cooperatively and who agree to try to settle your case. Each of you has a lawyer who is on your side, but much of the work is done in cooperation. Each of you agrees to disclose all the information that’s necessary for fair negotiations, and to meet with each other and both lawyers to discuss settlement.

(Thinking collaboration might work for you? See Collaborative Divorce).

Contested Divorce

If you and your spouse argue so much over property or child custody that you can’t come to an agreement, and instead take these issues to the judge to decide, you have what’s called a contested divorce. You’ll go through a process of exchanging information, settlement negotiations, hearings, and, if you can’t resolve the case after all that, a court trial. If this sounds like your situation, you’ll want to talk to a lawyer.

Divorce for Same-Sex Couples

Same-sex couples who have registered as domestic partners or entered into civil unions must use the same forms and procedures as married couples to end their legal relationship. We can help.

Still have questions? Ask Joe or call him at 203-239-5844

Couples divorce later in life for the same reasons younger couples divorce – infidelity, financial pressures, regrets about earlier decisions, or a desire for greater independence. While there are differences in the emotional impact of divorce for couples who end their marriage later in life, the biggest difference is that there is less time to recover financially.

Dividing Assets at Divorce

Part of the divorce process will be dividing your assets with your spouse. The market value of an asset isn’t always the only consideration when you’re making these decisions, because some assets will be more useful to you later in life than others. For example, has the mortgage for your house been paid off? If so, how is your house divided?


Dividing retirement plans can be complicated. You may need a separate court order, usually called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, to cover the division of retirement benefits. Before making any decisions about retirement, get a copy of the Summary Plan Description from the retirement plan administrator. If you are over 50 and are considering divorcing your spouse, you should contact us as soon as you can.

Social Security

Social Security benefits are not assets that any divorce attorney can help divide, but the rules about benefits are relevant to your post-divorce income.

If your marriage lasted 10 years or more and you’re 62 or older, you can collect retirement benefits on your former spouse’s Social Security record, without reducing your former spouse’s benefits, even after your divorce, which is incredibly important if you have been out of the workforce during your marriage.

  • You may be able to draw benefits of up to 50% of your former spouse’s benefit.
  • You can begin receiving retirement benefits at age 62 on either your own Social Security record or on your former spouse’s record, then switch to the other benefit when you reach full retirement age (if the other benefit is higher).
  • Once you’ve been divorced for at least two years, you’ll be entitled to benefits through your former spouse even if your former spouse is eligible but not yet receiving benefits.

Still have questions? Ask Joe or call him at 203-239-5844