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The Difference Between a Divorce and an Annulment in Connecticut

Following the Connecticut family law, the judicial branch solemnizes a marriage between eligible individuals in Connecticut. Nonetheless, following a petition for divorce or annulment, the court has the authority to free the parties from the bonds of matrimony. Records of the filing, court proceedings and final decree are public information unless otherwise prohibited by a court order or statute.

What is a Connecticut Divorce Decree?

A divorce decree is a legal document or order that dissolves a marriage in Connecticut. From the date of issuance, the court effectively terminates the marriage contract. The divorce decree implies that the parties revert to their original social and legal status before the solemnization. Furthermore, both parties may remarry legally.

The records contained in documents related to family court include both marriage and divorce records. Both types of records contain information that is considered very personal to the parties involved, and it is recommended that those parties maintain these records with care to make changes in the future. The personal nature of these records results in both being considerably more difficult to find and obtain when compared to other types of public records. In many cases, these records are not available through either government sources or third party public record websites.

What is an Annulment in Connecticut?

Annulment is a less common way to end a marriage in Connecticut. Here, the judiciary effectively voids a marriage that was invalid from the start. Couples may file for annulment on several grounds such as consanguineous marriage, marriage under duress, by compulsion, threat, or force. Likewise, marrying a person who is legally ineligible to make such a decision is prohibited and a ground for annulment. Annulment begins when a petitioner completes and submits the annulment complaint.

Annulment records are available to the public, according to Connecticut sunshine laws. However, these records are only accessible at the office of the clerk at the court that adjudicated the petition. However, the record custodian must sequester annulment records that contain confidential information from public access, e.g., information on a minor.

Annulment vs. Divorce in Connecticut

Both terms are intrinsically different but arguably share a few similarities. As a civil suit, both complaints follow the Connecticut Rules of Civil Procedure, and a court judgment frees both parties from the bonds of matrimony.

Meanwhile, any couple, whose marriage is recognized under state laws can apply for a divorce. Conversely, an annulment does not apply to every couple. Only petitioners who can prove that the marriage is indeed void or voidable will receive an annulment in Connecticut. Besides, anyone can initiate a divorce suit at any time, but a person filing for annulment must do so as soon as he/she discovers that the marriage is void or voidable. Otherwise, the court will consider failure to file as implicit, and the court will investigate this motive in adjudicating the annulment.

Is an Annulment Cheaper Than Divorce In Connecticut?

Not necessarily. Divorce, for the most part, is comparatively cheaper to file and adjudicate once the parties meet statutory requirements and settle out of court. Conversely, the cost of an annulment is significantly higher. Apart from meeting statutory residency requirements, the petitioner must prove that the marriage is void or voidable. To do this, he/she must produce corroborating evidence such as a medical report, results of a genetic test, and other pieces of evidence applicable to the case. The cost of this investigation compounds the legal billable fees in an annulment proceeding.

What is an Uncontested Divorce in Connecticut?

Suffice to say that an uncontested divorce is one where both parties agree that the marriage is beyond reconciliation or both parties agree on incompatibility in matrimony. To get an uncontested divorce, the petitioner must submit the divorce complaint, an equitable settlement agreement signed by both spouses, and other court forms applicable to the divorce type. The settlement agreement must detail the division of financial assets and liabilities as well as both parties’ agreement on the issues of child support, custody, and spousal support.

Where to Get an Uncontested Divorce Form in Connecticut

Generally, a divorce suit begins in the Superior court of the county where one of the spouses resides. To get an uncontested divorce form, the requester must visit the office of the clerk, who will provide the divorce form and other applicable documents to file. Alternatively, the concerned party may download the applicable divorce form on the official forms page. The judiciary also provides a guide for getting an uncontested divorce in Connecticut.

For interested members of the public, accessing records of an uncontested divorce is no different from getting a court record. However, information and documents in the divorce record that contain sensitive data are subject to sequestration or redaction. Where the clerk does sequester a divorce record, only individuals named on the divorce record and their legal designees may access the divorce record. Other persons must provide a court order granting access to the divorce record. Even at that, the clerk will redact sensitive data before allowing the inspection and copying of the divorce record.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching for records simpler, as geographic locations do not limit their activities. Thus, the search engines on third-party sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or persons involved in the case. These include information such as the city, county, or state of residence or accusation.

Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not government-sponsored. Consequently, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

How Do I Get a Copy of My Divorce Decree in Connecticut?

The interested party must use the court directory to find the address and contact information of the clerk of the Superior court that adjudicated the divorce. Then, he/she must visit the courthouse in person and during business hours to get a copy of the divorce decree.

The clerk or the designated official in charge of managing court records will request descriptive information regarding the divorce decree. Some of these include the names of the divorcees, the date of final divorce, and the docket number. Upon successful retrieval, the requester must pay the applicable fees for searching, copying, and certifying the divorce decree. The clerk’s office accepts cash, check, and credit card as forms of payment.

Divorce and marriage records may be available through government sources and organizations, though their availability is not guaranteed. Similarly, their availability through third-party websites and companies is not guaranteed, as these organizations are not government-sponsored, and record availability may vary. Finally, marriage and divorce records are considered extremely private due to the information they contain and are often sealed. Bearing these factors in mind, record availability for these types of records is not guaranteed.

How Do I Get a Connecticut Divorce Decree Online?

As of December 2020, the Superior courts in Connecticut do not process online requests for divorce decrees. Thus, an interested person must visit the office of the clerk of court in person and during business hours.

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