January 27, 2018

Monthly Misconception for January – “Your spouse can stop you from divorcing because they haven’t done anything wrong.”

Monthly Misconception for January – “Your spouse can stop you from divorcing because they haven’t done anything wrong.”

 No they can’t. 

I’ve received many calls over the years from potential clients who want desperately to divorce but have been told by their spouse “I won’t give you a divorce” or “You won’t get your divorce unless you give me what I want.”

The bad news for these callers is that if one spouse wants to make the divorce process especially difficult, destructive, time consuming, and expensive, they probably can.  On the other hand, Connecticut allows anyone to divorce their spouse, even against the strong objections of the other spouse.  That is what no-fault divorce is all about.

For a court to grant a divorce, the spouse wanting the divorce must prove that legal grounds for the divorce exist.  Until the 1970s in Connecticut, legal grounds were primarily fault based.  This means that the spouse wanting the divorce had to prove that the other spouse did something terrible to justify the divorce thereby giving the court the authority to end the marriage.  Adultery, habitual drunkenness and intolerable cruelty were common grounds.

Since divorce based on fault was the only option, many married persons wanting to divorce resorted to outright dishonesty or at least stretching the facts to show the required fault.  This occurred regularly even when both spouses agreed divorce was the best thing for their family.

Finally, in the 1970s Connecticut adopted what is commonly referred to as no-fault divorce.  By adding a new ground for divorce –  irretrievable break down of the marriage – good people in unhappy marriages were finally allowed to end their marriage honestly and with dignity.

How do you prove that a marriage has irretrievably broken down?  Under our current law all that is needed is for one spouse to say on the record that he or she feels the marriage has broken down irretrievably.  The other spouse need not agree.  The other spouse need not consent to the divorce or give permission for the court to end the marriage.

Feel free to contact me if you want to learn more about no-fault divorce and how no-fault grounds relate to the financial and custody components of your divorce case.  I can be reached via email, lcappalli@cappallihill.com, or telephone, 203-271-388.


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