Understanding the Divorce Process

Going to court is daunting and the legalese you will read and hear throughout your divorce may be confusing and intimidating. At a time when your life can feel like it’s been turned upside down and inside out, sometimes the smallest bit of predictability can bring a sense of comfort. The outcome of many aspects of your divorce may be unknown, but the divorce process is predictable.

Although every divorce case is unique, you can expect the legal process to be carried out in a methodical manner with predictable phases and steps. Sometimes understanding the step-by-step process can reassure you that your divorce will reach an end.

Gaining a basic understanding of what lies ahead can help reduce your anxiety when the time comes for “pre-trials” or “depositions,” which sound intimidating. It is also an advantage to understand why each step is necessary and what the purpose is for them. Finally, understanding the divorce process will make your experience of the entire divorce easier. Yes, that is possible.

What steps are taken during the divorce process?

The divorce process in Connecticut typically involves the steps listed below.

Find an attorney.

Schedule a consultation with an attorney.

Prepare questions and gather needed documents for initial


Meet for initial consultation with attorney.

Pay retainer to attorney and sign retainer agreement.

Provide requested information and documents to your attorney.

Attorney prepares summons and complaint for divorce

and additional pendente lite (temporary) motions as discussed at your consultation

Attorney serves your spouse through a state marshal with the summons and complaint and then

files the documents with the clerk of the court.

Mandatory 90-day waiting period begins.

Parties may attend court to address temporary motions on matters

such as custody, support, and temporary possession of the family

home. Attorneys prepare financial affidavits and child support

guidelines for temporary hearing.

Temporary hearing held.


Parties reach agreement on temporary basis.

If there are minor children, parties

must attend a parent education class prior to the dissolution.

Both sides conduct discovery to obtain information regarding all

relevant facts. Obtain valuations of all assets, including expert

opinions if needed.

Confer with attorney to review facts, identify issues, assess

strengths and weaknesses of case, review strategy, and develop

proposal for settlement.

Spouses, with support of attorneys, attempt to reach agreement through written proposals, mediation, settlement conferences, or other negotiation.

Parties reach agreement on all issues.


Trial dates are selected.

Parties prepare for trial on unresolved issues.

Trial preparations proceed including preparation of witnesses,

trial exhibits, legal research on contested issues, pretrial motions,

trial brief, preparation of direct and cross examination of

witnesses, preparation of opening statement, subpoena of

witnesses, closing argument and suggestions to the court.

Meet with attorney for final trial preparation.


Judge makes decision.

Parties make payments and sign

documents (deeds or titles) pursuant to decree.

Documents required to divide retirement accounts and ensure the payment of

child support submitted to the court.

Pay any remaining balance due on attorney’s fees or receive refund.