As family law attorneys in Connecticut, we are asked many questions by clients during their initial divorce consultation. In this, the first part of a two-part series, we answer some of the most frequently asked questions we receive.
How long does a divorce in Connecticut take?
It depends on the complexity of your circumstances and how contested the divorce is.
Generally speaking, the Connecticut Family Court’s goal is to get divorce cases on and off the docket within a year. Once your case is filed, the court puts different checkpoints in place to keep the case moving to ensure conclusion within that timeframe. However, depending on your situation, your divorce could take much less than a year, or it could take longer.
The complexity of the issues dictate how long it will take. If your divorce is highly contested with regard to both custody and financials, it may take longer than a year. If there is only financial information to be compiled and analyzed for negotiation, it may take less than a year.
Once the two people come to an agreement, preparing and filing the final divorce paperwork can be completed within a short period of time.
Parties who do not resolve their case by coming to an agreement will ultimately have a trial, which will bring their divorce case to resolution. Your trial date is a backstop. You can settle your case at any point between when it starts and the conclusion of trial.
How much does a divorce in Connecticut cost?
Again, it depends on the complexity and how contested the divorce is.
If you are fighting over both custody and financials, the cost will be higher. When parties disagree solely over financial issues, we counsel clients to do a cost-benefit analysis. When they compare how far apart they are regarding property division, alimony and child support with how much it will cost them to go to trial, this often helps them be more practical about settling.
Cost also depends on how many professionals you work with. If you own complicated assets, such as a closely held business, trusts or pensions, you may need to hire business valuation experts, CPAs and/or trust attorneys. These professionals may be brought in to value those assets, help clients, attorneys and potentially the court understand the nature of these assets, cash flow or income associated with those assets, and/or help brainstorm options for resolution on the matter. Having more professionals involved adds cost but also expertise.
Court time adds costs. Drafting motions, preparing for court appearances, and time spent in court can add significant expenses to a case.
At Ruel Ruel Burns & Britt, we do a lot of work outside the court. Through client counseling and staying out of the courthouse, we help eliminate and control costs.
Costs also vary based on if you choose litigation, collaborative divorce or mediation. Litigation is usually, but not always, the most expensive process option because of its unpredictability. With collaborative divorce and mediation, you attend scheduled meetings. In collaborative divorce, each party is represented by his or her own collaborative divorce attorney, who works with the other members of the collaborative team to resolve the matter. The collaborative team includes the other spouse’s attorney and potentially financial and parenting coaches.
Mediation is generally the least costly option. The divorcing parties pay the mediator, who is a neutral, to facilitate discussions in their case. The parties are encouraged to seek their own consulting counsel, but this is not required. If they have individual questions about their circumstances, they can ask their counsel. Some people who go through a mediator just contact their consulting counsel to look over the final agreement before they sign it. At that point, however, what has been negotiated is generally not undone.
Can you represent both my spouse and me in the divorce?
No. Ethical rules do not allow attorneys to represent both spouses, because it is a conflict of interest. Family lawyers can act as mediators, but in those cases, our family law attorneys at Ruel Ruel Burns & Britt act in a neutral capacity, which means that we are not representing one or the other spouse’s interest and cannot provide individualized legal advice to either party. When we act as neutral mediators, parties are advised to seek their own consulting counsel, who must come from a different law firm.
What if my spouse won’t participate in the divorce?
In Connecticut, it only takes one person to want a divorce in order to get one. You can still file the paperwork even if your spouse decides not to participate. There will still be court dates, which you as the person filing will attend. The court will want to see evidence that you have made efforts to inform the other party and that the other party is voluntarily choosing to not participate in the divorce process. The court can enter final orders as part of its divorce judgment that resolves financial and custody issues without the participation of the other party.
If you are considering a divorce and would like to speak to an experienced Connecticut family law attorney, contact our attorneys at Ruel Ruel Burns & Britt. Call 860-206-9096 or click here.