If you are in the process of filing, or have just been served with a divorce complaint in Connecticut, you may find yourself inundated with documents which contain language that might as well be written in a foreign language. However, it is important that all litigants are aware of certain key dates in the divorce process. One of the those dates is the case management date (this date can generally be found at the top of the summons, as well as in the body of the Notice of Automatic Court Orders), and what you do between the filing/service of the complaint and case management date may very well dictate how quickly your divorce will be completed.
Connecticut imposes a 90 day “cooling off period” from the filing of an action for divorce before the court may grant the parties a divorce. This 90-day period can be very useful for negotiating the terms of the divorce or narrowing the issues for trial. At the end of this 90-day period the parties will have to appear before the court at a mandatory conference. This conference occurs on what is called the case management date. If the parties reached an agreement during the 90-day waiting period, they can obtain a divorce as early as that day, or schedule a date in the future. However, if the parties are unable to reach an agreement, the court will require them to appear in court on the case management date to file several documents including: (1) a signed case management agreement (an agreement between the parties that sets agreed deadlines for the completion of discovery, taking of depositions, and sets a date for a pretrial conference), (2) both parties’ financial affidavits, and if children are in involved in the case, (3) a signed parenting agreement.
If you are unable to attend court on your case management date, you should alert both the other party and the court immediately. However, generally the court will not grant a continuance of the case management date, so at least one party will have to appear before the court to deliver the documents outlined above, or deliver them to the court far enough in advance of the actual case management date. Failure to file all the required documents by the case management date may result in a dismissal of the case.
All litigants are encouraged to consult with an attorney before entering into any agreements; however, if your divorce fits into either of the following categories: (1) involves children, (2) involves the division of property (especially real estate, or retirement assets), (3) or has special circumstances such as a prenuptial agreement or your marriage occurred in a foreign jurisdiction, it is highly recommended that you consult with a divorce attorney as soon as possible to protect your interests and to complete your divorce in the most efficient manner possible.