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Connecticut Legal Separation
Legal Separation in Connecticut

In a legal separation a married couple make a binding agreement about the terms and condition of a separation. They agree on custody, property settlement, and support. The grounds and procedure for a legal separation are identical to a divorce. In a separation, the couple remains legally married. Legally separated couples may not remarry without first divorcing.

Unlike some jurisdictions, Connecticut specifically provide for a decree of legal separation. Section 46b-67(b) of the Connecticut General Statutes says that a decree of separation serves the same legal function as a divorce decree - but spouses aren't free to marry again.

There are several financial benefits to filing for legal separation rather than divorce, and a legal separation makes it easier for couple to reunite.

The government considers legally separated spouses married. Couples who divorce after 10 years of marriage may receive Social Security benefits based on the former spouse's earnings, and the tax, estate, and insurance consequences may differ from those of a divorce. After the legal separation, if one spouse decides to get a divorce, a simple motion to the court and an affidavit stating that the parties have not resumed marital relations converts a separation into a divorce without the participation of the other spouse.

A couple simply living apart is not legally separated regardless of the length of time, and they do not have the benefits of any court orders, so enforcing handshake agreements may be difficult.

In Connecticut, both divorce and legal separation require a three-month waiting period. The waiting period begins on the date the petitioner files the complaint for a legal separation. The waiting period gives the parties three months to work out a settlement.

A legal separation lasts indefinitely. Unlike a divorce, it can be undone when the petitioner files a declaration of resumption of marital relations and the court vacates the separation. However, a legal separation agreement allows the parties to convert the legal separation into a divorce decree easily. The petitioner files a motion asking the court to grant the conversion. If the petitioner makes the request, the judge must approve it. The respondent spouse can't contest it. After the legal separation process has been completed, the court should not require the usual 90-day waiting period to grant a divorce.

If couples cannot agree on the terms and conditions of their separation, the judge decides issues for them, just as he would in a contested divorce.

Connecticut requires that parents attend a parenting education program, even if they're only separating rather than divorcing.

Separation Agreement

A separation agreement is a legal binding contract signed by spouses, which is intended to resolve property, debt and child related issues. This can be a very complex and detailed document depending upon the unique situation of the marriage. Many spouses consult an attorney to provide this or they decide to prepare their own.

Grounds

In Connecticut, the grounds for a legal separation and a divorce are the same.

According to the Connecticut General Statutes Sec. 46b-40., Grounds for dissolution of marriage; legal separation; annulment, "[a] decree of dissolution of a marriage or a decree of legal separation shall be granted upon a finding that one of the following causes has occurred: (1) The marriage has broken down irretrievably; (2) the parties have lived apart by reason of incompatibility for a continuous period of at least the eighteen months immediately prior to the service of the complaint and that there is no reasonable prospect that they will be reconciled; (3) adultery; (4) fraudulent contract; (5) willful desertion for one year with total neglect of duty; (6) seven years' absence, during all of which period the absent party has not been heard from; (7) habitual intemperance; (8) intolerable cruelty; (9) sentence to imprisonment for life or the commission of any infamous crime involving a violation of conjugal duty and punishable by imprisonment for a period in excess of one year; (10) legal confinement in a hospital or hospitals or other similar institution or institutions, because of mental illness, for at least an accumulated period totaling five years within the period of six years next preceding the date of the complaint.

Residency

One of the spouses must live in Connecticut for at least one year before he or she files for a legal separation, or one of the spouses lived in Connecticut when the couple married and then returned to permanently reside in the state and then filed the complaint to legally separate. The Superior Court has exclusive jurisdiction over legal separation proceedings. The petitioner may file if he or she lived there when the event occurred that makes it impossible to continue living with a spouse.

Procedure

In Connecticut a divorce or legal separation begins with the filing of a summons, complaint and notice of automatic orders. In litigated cases a marshal serves the paperwork, but in most mediated or collaborative cases, marshal service is not required.

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