Connecticut Divorce Law and Domestic Partners
By Jimmy Verner
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Domestic partnerships, known as civil unions in Connecticut, no longer exist as such in the state. In 2009, the Connecticut legislature passed a law treating same-sex couples who entered into civil unions before October 1, 2010 as married as of that date. Since that time, same-sex couples may obtain divorces in Connecticut under the same rules that govern heterosexual divorces.
In 2005, the Connecticut legislature passed a law that permitted same-sex partners to enter into civil unions. Parties to civil unions enjoyed the same rights and privileges as heterosexual married couples, but only heterosexual couples could get married. In 2008, the Connecticut Supreme Court held that the statutory prohibition against same-sex marriage violated the Connecticut Constitution. In 2009, the Connecticut legislature amended Connecticut law, allowing same-sex couples to get married. The legislature also removed all provisions of the law that restricted marriage to heterosexual couples. In that same legislation, parties to civil unions were deemed to be married as of October 1, 2010.
There are 10 grounds for divorce in Connecticut, including the no-fault ground that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, as well as other common grounds such as adultery, desertion and cruelty. There is a 90-day waiting period after filing the divorce petition. If no agreements can be reached, at some point there will be a trial at which the court will divide the couple's property and rule on any alimony requests. Further, if there are children, the court will determine custody rights, set a visitation schedule and establish the amount of child support to be paid.
Connecticut recognizes domestic partnerships, civil unions and same-sex marriages from other states. If a same-sex couple marries elsewhere but seeks to divorce in Connecticut, the action may proceed if at least one of the spouses still lives in Connecticut at the time the divorce is filed. Otherwise, Connecticut requires at least one of the spouses to be a resident of Connecticut for at least 12 months before a divorce can be granted.
In Other States
Under Connecticut law, a Connecticut same-sex marriage may be recognized in another state if one or both of the spouses travel to or reside in that state. But Connecticut cannot direct what relationships other states recognize. If the married same-sex couple moves to a state that does not recognize same-sex marriages, the couple may not divorce there. The couple cannot divorce in Connecticut, either, without reestablishing residency in Connecticut.
- Conncecticut General Assembly: An Act Implementing the Guarantee of Equal Protection Under the Constitution of the State for Same Sex Couples
- Google Scholar: Kerrigan v. Commissioner of Public Health, 957 A.2d 407 (2008)
- Renee C. Bauer Law Group: Same-Sex Marriage in Connecticut
- Gennecticut General Assembly: Connecticut General Statutes, Chapter 815j* – Dissolution of Marriage, Legal Separation and Annulment
- Susan K. Smith: Connecticut Divorce Law Primer
Jimmy Verner, a lawyer since 1979, is Board-certified in family law and in civil trial law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Verner practices family law in Dallas.