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Connecticut Information

Connecticut Substantive And Procedural Laws Relating To Family/Matrimonial Matters

Selected Connecticut Substantive And Procedural Laws Relating To Family/Matrimonial Matters

Note: this is just a partial recitation of Connecticut’s family/matrimonial laws. You are encouraged to review primary source materials for the full scope of applicable substantive and procedural statutes and rules.

Sec. 1201. Complaints for Dissolution of Marriage, Legal Separation, or Annulment

Every complaint in a dissolution of marriage (LEGAL SEPARATION OR ANNULMENT) action shall state the date and place, including the city or town, of the marriage and the facts necessary to give the court jurisdiction, substantially in accordance with Form 504.1 (and all judgments of dissolution of marriage shall state such date and place and the jurisdictional facts as found by the court upon the hearing) .Every such complaint shall also state whether there are minor children issue of the marriage and whether there are any other minor children born to the wife since the date of marriage of the parties, the name and date of birth of each, and the name of any individual or agency presently responsible by virtue of judicial award for the custody or support of any child. These requirements shall be met whether a child is issue of the marriage or not and whether custody of children is sought in the action. In every case in which the state of Connecticut or any town thereof is contributing or has contributed to the support or maintenance of a party or child of said party, such fact shall be stated in the complaint and a copy thereof served on the attorney general or town clerk in accordance with the provisions of Sec. 120. Although the attorney general or town clerk shall be a party to such cases, he (OR SHE) need not be named in the writ of summons or summoned to appear.( THE COMPLAINT SHALL ALSO SET FORTH THE PLAINTIFF’S DEMAND FOR RELIEF AND THE AUTOMATIC ORDERS AS REQUIRED BY SEC. 1204)COMMENTARY: This section has been transferred, with revisions, from Sec. 453.

Sec. 1202. Action for Custody of Minor Child

Every complaint in an action for custody of a minor child, other than actions for dissolution of marriage, legal separation or annulment, shall state the name and date of birth of such minor child or children, the names of the parents and legal guardian [*92PB] of such minor child or children, and the facts necessary to give the court jurisdiction. The complaint shall comply with Sec. 1204. Such complaint shall be commenced by an order to show cause.

Sec. 1203. Action for Visitation of Minor Child

Every complaint in an action for visitation of a minor child, other than actions for dissolution of marriage, legal separation or annulment, shall state the name and date of birth of such minor child or children, the names of the parents and legal guardian of such minor child or children, and the facts necessary to give the court jurisdiction. The complaint shall comply with Sec. 1204. Such complaint shall be commenced by an order to show cause.

Sec. 1204. Automatic Orders Upon Service of Complaint

  1. The following automatic orders shall apply to both parties, with service of the automatic orders to be made with service of process of a complaint for dissolution of marriage, legal separation, annulment, custody or visitation. An automatic order shall not apply if there is a prior, contradictory court order. The automatic orders shall be effective with regard to the plaintiff upon the signing of the complaint and with regard to the defendant upon service and shall remain in place during the pendency of the action, unless terminated, modified, or amended by further order of the court upon motion of either of the parties:
    1. Neither party shall sell, transfer, encumber, conceal, assign, remove, or in any way dispose of, without the consent of the other party in writing, or an order of the court, any property, individually or jointly held by the parties, except in the usual course of business or for customary and usual household expenses.
    2. Neither party shall incur unreasonable debts hereafter, including, but not limited to, further borrowing against any credit line secured by the family residence, further encumbrancing any assets, or unreasonably using credit cards or cash advances against credit cards.
    3. The parties shall each complete and exchange sworn financial statements substantially in accordance with Form 501.1 within thirty days of the return day. The parties may thereafter enter and submit to the court a stipulated interim order allocating income and expenses, in accordance with the uniform child support guidelines.
    4. The case management date for this case is . The parties shall comply with Sec. 1252 to determine if their actual presence at the court is required on that date.
    5. Neither party shall permanently remove the minor child or children from the state of Connecticut, without written consent of the other or order of the court.
    6. The parties, if they share a minor child or children, shall participate in the parenting education program within sixty days of the return day.
    7. Neither party shall cause the other party or the children of the marriage to be removed from any medical, hospital and dental insurance coverage, and each party shall maintain the existing medical, hospital and dental insurance coverage in full force and effect.
    8. Neither party shall change the beneficiaries of any existing life insurance policies, and each party shall maintain the existing life insurance, automobile insurance, homeowners or renters insurance policies in full force and effect.
    9. If the parties are living together on the date of service of these orders, neither party may deny the other party use of the current primary residence of the parties, whether it be owned or rented property, without court order. This provision shall not apply if there is a prior, contradictory court order.
    10. If the parties share a child or children, a party vacating the family residence shall notify the other party or the other party’s attorney, in writing, within forty-eight hours of such move, of an address where the relocated party can receive communication. This provision shall not apply if there is a prior, contradictory court order.
    11. If the parents of minor children live apart during this dissolution proceeding, they shall assist their children in having contact with both parties, which is consistent with the habits of the family, personally, by telephone, and in writing unless there is a prior court order.
  2. The automatic orders of the court as enumerated in paragraph (a) shall be set forth immediately following the plaintiff’s prayer for relief in any complaint for dissolution of marriage, legal separation, annulment, custody or visitation and shall set forth the following language in bold type: Failure to obey these orders may be punishable by contempt of court. If you object to or seek modification of these orders during the pendency of the action, you have the right to a hearing before a judge within a reasonable time.
  3. The automatic orders of the court as enumerated in paragraphs (a) (1), (2) and (3) shall not apply in custody and visitation cases.

Sec. 1227. Modification of Custody, Alimony or Support

  1. Upon an application for a modification of an award of alimony pendente lite, alimony or support of minor children, filed by a person who is then in arrears under the terms of such award, the court shall, upon hearing, ascertain whether such arrearage has accrued without sufficient excuse so as to constitute a contempt of court, and, in its discretion, may determine whether any modification of current alimony and support shall be ordered prior to the payment, in whole or in part as the court may order, of any arrearage found to exist.
  2. Either parent or both parents of minor children may be cited or summoned by any party to the action to appear and show cause, if any they have, why orders of (CUSTODY, VISITATION,) support or alimony should not be entered or modified.
  3. If any applicant is proceeding without the assistance of counsel and citation of any other party is necessary, the applicant shall sign the application and present the application, proposed order and summons to the clerk; the clerk shall review the proposed order and summons and, unless it is defective as to form, shall sign the proposed order and summons and shall assign a date for a hearing on the application.

COMMENTARY: This section has been transferred, with revisions, from Sec. 464.

The Rules Committee recommends that motions for modification specify whether they are pendente lite or post-judgment so that they may be separately coded for statistical purposes.

Sec. 1228. Motion for Contempt

  1. All motions for contempt must state
    1. The date and specific language of the order of the court on which the motion is based;
    2. The specific acts alleged to constitute the contempt of that order, including the amount of any arrears claimed due as of the date of the motion or a date specifically identified in the motion;
    3. The movant’s claims for relief for the contempt.
  2. All motions for contempt must state clearly in the caption of the motion whether it is a pendente lite or a post-judgment motion.

Sec. 1233. Mandatory Disclosure and Production

  1. Unless otherwise ordered by the court for good cause shown, upon request by a party involved in an action for dissolution of marriage, legal separation, annulment or support, or a post judgment motion for modification of alimony or support, opposing parties shall exchange the following documents:
    1. All federal and state income tax returns filed within the last three years, including personal returns and returns filed on behalf of any partnership or closely held corporation of which a party is a partner or shareholder;
    2. IRS forms W-2, 1099 and K-1 within the last three years including those for the past year if the income tax returns for that year have not been prepared;
    3. Copies of all pay stubs or other evidence of income for the current year and the last pay stub from the past year;
    4. Statements for all accounts maintained with any financial institution, including banks, brokers and financial managers, for the past 24 months;
    5. The most recent statement showing any interest in any Keogh, IRA, profit sharing plan, deferred compensation plan, pension plan, or retirement account;
    6. The most recent statement regarding any insurance on the life of any party;
    7. A summary furnished by the employer of the party’s medical insurance policy, coverage, spousal benefits, and COBRA costs following dissolution;
    8. Any written appraisal concerning any asset owned by either party.
  2. Such duty to disclose shall continue during the pendency of the action should a party appear. This rule shall not preclude discovery under any other provisions of these rules.

Sec. 1234. Judicial Appointment of Expert Witnesses

Whenever the judicial authority deems it necessary, on its own motion it may appoint any expert witnesses of its own selection. The judicial authority shall give notice of its intention to appoint such expert, and give the parties an opportunity to be heard concerning such appointment. An expert witness shall not be appointed by the judicial authority unless the expert consents to act. An expert witness so appointed shall be informed of his or her duties by the judicial authority in writing, a copy of which shall be filed with the clerk, or the witness shall be informed of his or her duties at a conference in which the parties shall have an opportunity to participate. Such expert witness shall advise the parties of his or her findings, if any, and may thereafter be called to testify by the judicial authority or by any party and shall be subject to cross-examination by each party. The judicial authority may [*100PB] determine the reasonable compensation for such witness and direct payment out of such funds as may be provided by law or by the parties or any of them as the court may direct. Nothing in this rule shall prohibit the parties from retaining their own expert witnesses.COMMENTARY: The purpose of this proposed new section, which tracks Sec. 881 of the criminal rules, is to insure that the court and the parties understand that the judge in family cases may also appoint his or her own experts as the case may require. This rule permits the court to make the appointment on its own or on the suggestion of either party or the counsel for the minor child.

Connecticut Premarital Agreement Act

Connecticut’s Premarital Agreement sets forth, in detail, what the parties to premarital agreements may accomplish through their contracts, as well as the prerequisites for the enforceability of such contracts. The Full text of the Law is set forth below:


Section 1.

  1. “Premarital agreement” means an agreement between prospective spouses made in contemplation of marriage.
  2. “Property” means an interest, present or future, legal or equitable, vested or contingent, in real or personal property, tangible or intangible, including income and debt.

Section 2.

A premarital agreement shall be in writing and signed by both parties. It shall be enforceable without consideration.

Section 3.

  1. Parties to a premarital agreement may contract with respect to:
    1. The rights and obligations of each of the parties in any of the property of either or both of them whenever and wherever acquired or located;
    2. The right to buy, sell, use, transfer, exchange, abandon, lease, consume, expend, assign,create a security interest in, mortgage, encumber, dispose of, or otherwise manage and control property;
    3. The disposition of property upon separation, marital dissolution, death, or the occurrence or nonoccurrence of any other event;
    4. The modification or elimination of spousal support;
    5. The making of a will, trust or other arrangement to carry out the provisions of the agreement;
    6. The ownership rights in and disposition of the death benefit from a life insurance policy;
    7. The right of either party as a participant or participant’s spouse under a retirement plan;
    8. The choice of law governing the construction of the agreement; and
    9. Any other matter, including their personal rights and obligations.
  2. No provision made under subdivisions (1) to (9), inclusive, of subsection (a) of this section may be in violation of public policy or of a statute imposing a criminal penalty.
  3. The right of a child to support may not be adversely affected by a premarital agreement. Any provision relating to the care, custody and visitation or other provisions affecting a child shall be subject to judicial review and modification.

Section 4.

A premarital agreement becomes effective upon marriage unless otherwise provided in the agreement.

Section 5.

After marriage, a premarital agreement may be amended or revoked only by a written agreement signed by the parties. The amended agreement or the revocation shall be enforceable without consideration.

Section 6.

  1. A premarital agreement or amendment shall not be enforceable if the party against whom enforcement is sought proves that:
    1. Such party did not execute the agreement voluntarily; or
    2. The agreement was unconscionable when it was executed or when enforcement is sought; or
    3. Before execution of the agreement, such party was not provided a fair and reasonable disclosure of the amount, character and value of property, financial obligations and income of the other party; or
    4. Such party was not afforded a reasonable opportunity to consult with independent counsel.
  2. If a provision of a premarital agreement modifies or eliminates spousal support and such modification or elimination causes one party to the agreement to be eligible for support under a program of public assistance at the time of separation or marital dissolution, a court, notwithstanding the terms of the agreement, may require the other party to provide support to the extent necessary to avoid such eligibility.
  3. An issue of unconscionability of a premarital agreement shall be decided by the court as a matter of law.

Section 7.

If the marriage is held void or voidable, an agreement that would otherwise have been a premarital agreement shall be enforceable only to the extent necessary to avoid an inequitable result.

Section 8.

Any statute of limitations applicable to an action asserting a claim for relief under a premarital agreement is tolled during the marriage of the parties to the agreement, except that equitable defenses limiting the time for enforcement, including laches and estoppels, shall be available to either party.

Section 9.

This act may be cited as the Connecticut Premarital Agreement Act.

Section 10.

Nothing in this act shall be deemed to affect the validity of any premarital agreement made prior to the effective date of this act.

Section 11.

This act shall take effect October 1, 1995, and shall apply to any premarital agreement executed on or after that date.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Child Support In Connecticut

The following information is intended to answer some of the more common questions regarding child support in Connecticut. This is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney, and is provided solely as general information. If you have questions, you may wish to consider consulting with an attorney.

How are Support Orders calculated?

The courts use mandatory guidelines to make fair and consistent child support orders.

  • The Connecticut Child Support and Arrearage Guidelines are state regulations which provide a mathematical formula to set the child support payment amount. The Guidelines use the combined income of the mother and the father and the number of children to set a child support amount.
  • The court will also enter a medical insurance order for the minor children if it is available through an employer for a reasonable cost. The court may also order one or both parties to apply for, and maintain, medical. The guidelines also provide for the allocation of un-reimbursed medical costs between the parties.
  • The guidelines also provide a mathematical formula for allocating qualified childcare costs between the parties.
  • Judges and family support magistrates must follow the guidelines unless they make an exception in their ruling and tell you why they are ordering a different amount. These exceptions are called “deviations.”

How do I enforce a Child Support Order?

The following three tolls can be used to enforce a child support order:

  • Income Withholding – all child support orders may be collected through a court order to deduct money from the non-custodial parent’s income (Income includes wages, overtime pay, worker’s compensation, unemployment compensation, retirement benefits, etc.).
  • Contempt – the court finds that the non-custodial parent willfully failed to obey the court order. A person found in contempt may be ordered to pay a lump sum of money. The person also can be sent to jail (incarcerated) until a certain sum of money is paid.
  • License Suspension – the court finds the non-custodial parent failed to obey the court order and orders his or her driver’s license, professional, occupational license, or recreational license suspended after 30 days.

Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDROs) Under Connecticut Law: Summary of Reported Decisions
  • KREMENITZER v. KREMENITZER, 81 Conn. App. 135 (2004):Summary of Factual Background:

    The parties’ separation agreement, which had provided for the order as a means of dividing and equalizing various retirement accounts, provided that the assets were to be valued as of the day of dissolution or as close to that day as values could be obtained. The order, however, provided, in effect, that the defendant’s 401 (k) retirement account was to be valued as of “the last valuation date prior to the date distribution is to occur. . . .” Between the date of the dissolution judgment and the subsequent distribution date proposed in the order, the value of the assets in the defendant’s possession decreased significantly. Plaintiff moved to correct the qualified domestic relations order so that distribution would be based on the 401(k)'s value as of the date of dissolution. The trial court granted plaintiff's motion.Holding: The appellate court affirmed the trial court's modification of QDRO so as to provide for the valuation of defendant's 401(k) as of the date of dissolution,

  • BENDER v. BENDER, 258 Conn. 733 (2001):

    Both vested and nonvested pensions are marital property under Connecticut law: "unvested pension benefits are not too speculative to be considered property subject to equitable distribution under § 46b-81."


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