The Shortcut to Divorce in Connecticut
Public Act 15-7 Creates Nonadversarial Divorce Process
Coming into effect this past October 1st, Public Act No. 15-7, An Act Concerning a Nonadversarial Dissolution of Marriage, creates a shortcut to divorce in nonadversarial divorces that meet certain criteria. While the goal was to offer the public a faster and far less intense divorce process, the qualification requirements are rather restrictive.
Qualification Requirements for Nonadversarial Dissolution of Marriage
ALL of the following conditions must be satisfied, and both parties must swear to them under oath in order to qualify for nonadversarial divorce:
- The marriage has broken down irretrievably;
- The parties were married fewer than 8 years;
- Neither party to the action is pregnant;
- No children were born to or adopted by the parties before or during marriage;
- Neither party owns real estate property, in whole or jointly with others;
- The total value of all property owned by both parties does not exceed $35,000 (excluding encumbrances);
- Neither party has a benefit pension plan;
- Neither party has a pending petition for relief in Bankruptcy court;
- Neither party is applying for or receiving Title 19 Social Security benefits;
- No other action relating to the marriage is pending anywhere else;
- There are no restraining orders or protective orders in effect between the parties; and
- residency requirements are satisfied.
If all of the above are true, an action for nonadversarial dissolution of marriage can be started by filing a duely signed and notarized joint petition in a judicial district in which one of the parties to the nonadversarial divorce lives. The joint petition must include the following:
- Date and place of marriage;
- Current residential address of each party;
- Financial Affidavits;
- Notarized certification signed by both parties that they agree to proceed by consent and wive service of process, neither is acting under duress or coercion, and each is waiving the right to trial, alimony, spousal support, or appeal.
If the parties wish to submit a settlement agreement or request to restore birth name or former name, these must also be included with the joint petition at filing.
Timeframe of Nonadversarial Divorce
Thirty or more days after the joint petition is filed the court will schedule a disposition date. During this thirty day period, either party can file a notice of revocation, turning the nonadversarial divorce into a standard one.
Assuming no issues arise and both parties agree on everything, the Court may enter a decree of dissolution of marriage (judgment of divorce) as early as the disposition date or within 5 days of that date. The parties are then notified by mail of the divorce and given the status of unmarried person. No court hearing is required.
Issues That Can Arise
The new law points out two specific reasons for why the Court can choose not to enter the decree of dissolution. If the court spots an issue, it will schedule a hearing within the next thirty days so that the parties can be heard. If the court is still not satisfied that the nonadversarial divorce process is proper under the circumstances, it will turn the nonadversarial divorce into a standard family docket divorce.
- The Settlement Agreement proposed by the parties is not Fair and Equitable; and
- Failure to comply with the 12 criteria for qualifying.
However, from reviewing the statute, there are some other reasons that could likely cause a joint petition for nonadversarial divorce to fail.
- Jurisdictional issues with the Court where the joint petition was filed;
- Failure to notarize the joint petition, certifications and affidavits;
- Failure to notify the Court of a change concerning criteria for qualifying in a timely manner;
- Failure to provide financial affidavits or use the proper form;
- Failure to provide required certifications; or
- There is evidence of duress or coercion.
Why You Need To Be Very Careful With Nonadversarial Dissolution of Marriage
When the Court enters a decree for the dissolution of marriage in a nonadversarial divorce, that decree is the “final adjudication of the rights and obligations of the parties with respect to the status of the marriage and the property rights of the parties.” You waive any right to a trial, alimony, spousal support or any appeals.
The final judgment may only be set aside for fraud, duress, accident, mistake or other grounds recognized at law or in equity.