Bridgeport is nestled right between many major metropolitan areas like New York City and Boston. Its location brings up some divorce issues that are unique to a town with residents who may have recently lived out of state or who have moved out of state during a separation. Because divorce law is based on each state's law, the state where a couple is married, the state where a couple lives during marriage, and the state where the couple divorces may all impact the divorce process. The following is a brief overview of the divorce process in Bridgeport, Connecticut and of the unique issues Bridgeport residents may face.
Divorce and Separation Options
There are three options for Bridgeport spouses who no longer want to continue a marriage. They are divorce (called "dissolution of marriage" in Connecticut), annulment, and legal separation.
Connecticut calls a divorce a "dissolution of marriage," which can be either contested or uncontested. Connecticut is a "no fault" state, which means that one spouse does not have to be at fault in order to end the marriage. This is normally called an "uncontested divorce" and spouses who agree to the divorce only need to tell a court that the marriage is broken beyond repair. Connecticut law uses the phrase "broken down irretrievably" to describe this circumstance.
When one spouse does not agree to the divorce, the divorcing spouse can either pursue a no-fault contested divorce, or a fault-based divorce. Fault-based divorces are very rare, and are only available in certain cases, such as those involving a spouse's: adultery, fraud, desertion for a year or more, absence for seven years, conviction of a serious crime, cruelty, or commitment to a mental institution.
If a fault-based divorce is not an option, a spouse may still pursue a contested divorce after the spouses have lived apart for at least 18 months be cause they don't get along.
Annulments are very rare, and are only available when a marriage is invalid in the first place. Specifically, they are only an option when:
Legal separation may be a stepping stone for spouses who eventually want a divorce, but do not yet meet the requirements for a divorce in Connecticut. In Connecticut, a legal separation has the exact same effect as a divorce, including dividing property, alimony, child custody, and child support. However, neither spouse is allowed to remarry until a divorce is finalized. The grounds for a legal separation are the same as the grounds for a divorce in Connecticut.
Residency may be an issue for a married couple who wants to divorce in Bridgeport. There is no residency requirement for filing for a divorce, but at least one spouse must live in Connecticut for 12 months before the divorce is finalized. The two exceptions to this rule are: 1) when the couple was married in Connecticut, and one spouse has returned to Connecticut with the intent to stay; and 2) the cause for divorce arose after the couple moved to Connecticut.
Connecticut is an equitable distribution state. This means that, unless spouses agree otherwise, the judge will separate property in a way that is fair, but not necessarily equal.
Alimon, sometimes called spousal support, is a payment made by one former spouse to another. There are many reasons courts award alimony. The most common reason is to ensure that a former spouse can support his or herself until they have sufficient income to do so on their own. When deciding whether to award alimony, and how much, Connecticut courts will consider a number of factors, including:
- The length of the marriage;
- The cause for dissolution;
- The age and health of the spouses;
- Occupation, income, and skills of each spouse; and
- And the total assets and liabilities of each spouse after divorce.
Child Custody and Child Support
Child custody and child support may be decided by the same court in a divorce proceeding, although they are legally separate determinations. In Connecticut, and every other state, child custody is determined based on what is in the best interest of the child. Child support calculations in Connecticut are based on the Income Shares model, which means that a parent is responsible for a percentage of the child's financial support based on what percent their income contributes to the overall family income.
If you would like to know more about your rights, obligations and liabilities in divorce, or have some questions that are specific to your case, there are many divorce attorneys in Bridgeport who may be able to help.
Contact a qualified attorney.