Frequently Asked Questions


If your marriage has reached a point where you feel that there are no reasonable solutions and are considering divorce, it’s important to seek the counsel of Divorce Attorney Paul McConnell to start planning a strategy. Attorney McConnell may advise you to first seek the help of a marriage counselor if you haven’t already done so.

If your marriage truly cannot be saved, Attorney McConnell will help you to negotiate a divorce that is fair to you and do everything necessary to protect you, your assets, and your peace of mind. Often times a knowledgeable divorce attorney can skillfully navigate through the legal and emotional process of marriage dissolution while avoiding destructive battles along the way.

With the Attorney McConnell’s help, divorce negotiations with your spouse can be productive and fair. Reasonable positions lead to reasonable solutions, which lead to a less stressful, emotional, and less expensive divorce process. This requires both parties to come together to make decisions about children, assets, and property. It’s not as hard as you might think.

For more information about Family Law and Divorce, please take a moment to review the question that we are most frequently asked by our clients:

Attorney fees vary depending upon the complexities of the case and the time involved in building the best strategy for your needs.

In some cases, the court may order one spouse to pay the other spouse’s attorney’s fees, but the full amount due each spouse’s attorney remains the obligation of the hiring spouse.  The amount ordered to be paid can be credited toward the legal fees.

In addition, there are several other fees involved in the process:

Court Filing Fee: $350.00 (eff. July 1, 2012)

Marshal’s Service Fee: $50-$75 (unless waived)

Parenting Education Class: $125.00 per party

Certified Copy of Decree: $25 per party

To obtain a divorce in Connecticut:

  • One of the parties must have resided in the state for at least one year.
  • Your attorney files a formal complaint, which starts the legal action and gives some of the facts of your marriage and potential claims for relief such as alimony, child custody and/or support, the division of property and assets, and/or attorney fees.
  • Your spouse is served the complaint by a marshal. A summons is also served and it will direct your spouse and their attorney to file a response with the court on a certain day called the “return day.”
  • A form called an “appearance” should be filed by the defendant spouse so that all further information about the case can be mailed to him or her. If the appearance is not filed, the defendant spouse will not be notified of case information.
  • There is a ninety-day waiting period after the return date before the marriage is dissolved.
  • During the ninety days, either party may request temporary orders for alimony, child custody or protective orders.
  • After the ninety days, the case is assigned for trial or hearing depending on whether there are any contested issues.

A “No Fault” Divorce means that the spouse filing for divorce does not have to prove wrongdoing of the other party. Connecticut is a “No Fault” state and if you believe that your marriage has “broken down irretrievably,” you may file for divorce.

Be aware that any serious issues that led to the point of seeking a divorce are not irrelevant and may be considered when legal decisions about children, alimony, and property are settled.

Several factors are considered by courts to determine alimony including how long you were married, the issues that led to the dissolution of marriage, health, occupation, income, age, and the needs of each of the parties.

Connecticut courts may also give either the spouse any part of the estate of the other including the marital home. The same factors are considered when making assignments of property. The contribution of each spouse towards the purchase, preservation, and appreciation in the value of their estate is considered in any assignment of property.

As circumstances change, support, custody, and alimony can be modified to better suit each party. Property awards are permanent decisions and cannot be modified.

A legal separation essentially follows all of the same steps as getting a divorce. The only difference being that in the end, you are “legally separated” rather than “divorced” and are therefore cannot remarry.

Legal separations can be changed into a divorce by either party at any time.

Married couples are free to separate and live apart if they choose, without court “permission.” A court-ordered separation is often financially beneficial when responsibilities for alimony, support, custody are legally established.

When either party fails to comply with the court’s orders or any provisions of an agreement, you must notify your attorney. Your attorney will attempt to obtain compliance by initiating contempt proceedings which could result in penalties such as paying the attorney’s fees of the other party, lawsuits for damages, and withholding of wages, even incarceration. Wage withholding will have been issued by the court at the time the support order was entered. The withholding will be effective immediately unless the payee waives immediate withholding or the court decides that such an order should not be entered. If one parent has left the state, the Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act allows for enforcement of court orders across state lines.

Regarding child support decisions, courts consider two things: 1) the ability of each parent to pay support and, 2) the needs of the child.  Many factors are taken into consideration including the child’s age, health, occupation, earning capacity, and the amount and sources of income.

The courts follow income-based Connecticut’s Child Support and Arrearage Guidelines.  The guidelines serve to determine the appropriate level of child support based on the parents’ incomes and the number of children.  Special circumstances may be considered.

In most cases, child support is ordered until the child reaches the age of 18, which is the age of majority in Connecticut.  In the event that a child is disabled, child support may be extended until to age twenty-one. The parents may extend support beyond 18 by written agreement.

Custody of minor children can be assigned to either parent, both parents, or a third party, depending on the circumstances of the case. Courts are guided by the best interests of the child and consider the child’s preference if he/she is of sufficient age. The reason(s) for the divorce may also be considered in determining custody.

It is far better for parents to reach an agreement for custody of minor children. Courts will normally accept an agreement however when parents are fighting for custody, the court will not only hear the parents’ cases but may also appoint a lawyer for the children so that their interests may be represented.  The parents are responsible for the children’s legal fees.

Parents of minor children are required to attend parenting education programs in any legal action dealing with the dissolution of marriage, legal separation, annulment, custody, visitation, and child support.

Connecticut courts prefer that parents work together to develop a schedule that works best for all parties however sometimes this is not an easy task. In the event that the court must grant visitation, the best interest of the children is the predominant factor. The court may limit noncustodial parent right to visitation or require supervised visitation depending on the circumstances of the case.

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