Category: Family Law Posted on May 24, 2015

Connecticut Divorce – Frequently Asked Questions

Connecticut Divorce Frequently Asked QuestionsNo married couple intends to separate. That means, however, that when a marriage ends, the former partners start the process with many unanswered questions about the divorce.  Some of the most common include…

Q:  How will our property and debts be divided by the court? Equally?

A:  During a divorce, the court will seek to divide property equitably. Equitable” does not necessarily mean “equal.” Instead, the court has wide discretion to assign property to divorcing partners–regardless of when or how that asset was acquired.  In determining what is equitable, many different factors may be analyzed, including:

  • Length of the marriage
  • Each party’s age and health
  • Occupations and earning capacity
  • Education and vocational abilities
  • Each party’s contribution to acquisition or preservation of assets (such as homemaking)

Many large assets cannot be split (such as a home), and so they must be given to one party. This often leads to offsetting assets being given to the other ex-spouse to balance the scales.

Q:  How is child support calculated?

A:  In Connecticut, child support calculations are made based on a pre-determined formula. That formula takes the income of both parents into account, the parents other support obligations, and other special circumstances. In general, the “noncustodial” parent will owe support to the custodial parent, but there may be adaptations when there is shared custody or split physical custody. The court will calculate the combined weekly income of the parents and use the formula to determine what percentage of that income should be paid in support to the child. Adjustments may then be made at the court’s discretion.

Q:  My ex-spouse recently remarried.  Will I be able to lower the amount of child support I pay based on the income of her new spouse?

A:  A re-marriage will generally not affect child support obligations. Under Connecticut law, each parent is obligated to provide support to their children. Changes in each parent’s personal life does not alter that underlying duty. However, because Connecticut uses an income-based model to calculate support obligations, changes in one spouse’s own financial situation may warrant some modification in support duties.

Q:  How will the court calculate alimony in a Connecticut divorce?

A:  Unlike child support, neither party is automatically entitled to alimony in Connecticut. Instead, the court has significant discretion to determine if alimony is appropriate at all, and, if so, how much to award and for how long.  When deliberating on alimony, the judge will consider many of the same factors used in general division of property, such as::

  • Each party’s employability and earning potential
  • The length of the marriage and cause of dissolution
  • Educational background and vocational skills

There are many different forms of alimony, including rehabilitative payments, temporary support, and lump sum payments. Lifetime alimony is an option, however, it is less commonly awarded today. Judges must provide a clear, articulable reason for a lifetime alimony award.

Q:  Should I consider family law mediation in my current divorce case?

A:  Many couples are choosing alternative methods of ending their marriage, including mediation. This can be beneficial by allowing former partners to make their own decisions regarding property distribution and support. The mediation process is often less contentious than the typical litigated divorce, and it may be more cost-effective.  It is not successful for all couples, but because of the potential benefits it is worthwhile to consider mediation and determine if it might work for you.

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Bruce Stanger

My litigation experience includes family law, divorce, product liability, construction law, professional negligence, shareholder disputes, medical malpractice, legal malpractice, and general commercial litigation.