How Long Must I Wait Before I Can Get Divorced in Connecticut?

Posted by on Feb 12, 2015 in Divorce, Family Law

desert_heartsIn the 1985 lesbian romance Desert Hearts, professor Vivian Bell, in need of a quick divorce, heads to a ranch in the state of Nevada, whose lenient residency requirements of just six weeks and no waiting period are the shortest in the nation.

For a time they weren’t though: after the Civil War, there was a national movement for moral reform, and Nevada’s residency requirements were upped to six months and then to one year. Merchants, hotels, restaurants, and casinos missed the revenue that divorce seekers brought and successfully lobbied for a reduction. By 1931, the requirement was dropped back to six weeks. By 1940, nearly 5% of all divorces in the United States were filed in Nevada. The desert state still maintains the highest percentage of divorced residents in the U.S.

In Connecticut in 2015, one party must have lived continuously in the state for twelve months by the date of the divorce, and under Section 46b-67 of Chapter 815j of the Connecticut General Statutes, you are required to wait a minimum of 90 days from the “Return Date” (the official start date of your case).  All deadlines and statutory periods are measured from the “Return Date,” but is important to keep in mind that after your attorney completes your Summons, Complaint, and Notice of Automatic Orders, time is needed prior to the Return Date for (1) the judicial marshal to serve your spouse and (2) for the served papers to be returned to the court.

As a result, even under the best of circumstances, a more realistic minimum time it takes for a Connecticut divorce to be completed is closer to 4 months.  (More complicated divorces can take significantly longer.)

Although the 90 Day Waiting Period is unavoidable, it can be a productive time.  During the 90 Day Waiting period, Freed Marcroft will typically negotiate with your spouse’s attorney to try to reach a final resolution to your case.

As we wrote about here, the judicial branch is currently considering a proposal that would institute a simpler, more streamlined procedure for people who want to get a divorce, have no children, have limited assets and who agree on the terms of their dissolution.  The proposed change would reduce the Waiting Period from 90 days down to 30 days.  In addition, under this model, judges could grant the divorce ‘on the papers,’ without the parties having to come to court.

If you would like to consider Freed Marcroft for your family law or other legal needs, please contact us.