Where do I file for divorce?
The Connecticut Statutes have specific provisions that govern which courthouse you are to file for divorce. It is dependent upon where either the Plaintiff or the Defendant resides. Specifically, in Fairfield County:
a.) If either party resides in the town of Darien, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford, Weston, Westport, or Wilton, the divorce action can be filed in the Stamford courthouse.
b.) If either party resides in towns such as Fairfield, Easton, Trumbull, Shelton, Bridgeport, or Monroe, the divorce action shall be filed in the Bridgeport courthouse.
If the parties have already separated and, for example, the Husband lives in Greenwich and the Wife lives in Fairfield, wherever the action is first filed is the courthouse that will handle the case.
No matter which courthouse you file for divorce in, the laws of the state of Connecticut govern the action. However, there are different day-to-day rules and customs that exist within each courthouse. These “rules” depend on who the presiding judge is at the time. The presiding judge who handles divorce cases governs the flow and distribution of cases. He or she then can distribute matters to other judges to be addressed. For example, in the Stamford courthouse, there is presently a presiding judge and at least three or four judges to whom he will distribute cases. In the Bridgeport courthouse, there is presently a presiding judge who has two to three additional judges available for handling cases. All of the judges will handle hearings, trials, pre-trial conferences, status conferences, ex-parte applications and other judicial issues.
Who will the judge be?
In Connecticut, you are not assigned a specific judge for a divorce case at the onset of the matter. It is possible that during various visits to the courthouse for motions, hearings, status conferences, and pretrial conferences, different judges will address these issues. Further, in Connecticut (specifically, the Stamford and Bridgeport courthouses) you are usually not advised of who your trial judge will be until the morning of the trial. Much of this depends on which judge is available that day. You do not have a choice as to who your trial judge will be. It is up to the discretion of the presiding judge. Conversely, in New York, once you file your action, you are assigned a judge who governs the matter from start to finish.
The above is only a general view of where cases are filed and who the trial judge may be. Of course, the hope is to only have to visit the courthouse once during your divorce action: the actual day of your divorce. That certainly keeps legal fees at a minimum, and reduces overall stress on you and your family.
At Broder and Orland LLC we are quite familiar with the courts in the state of Connecticut. We represent numerous clients who reside in towns such as Darien, Greenwich, New Canaan, Stamford, Westport and Fairfield and therefore are quite knowledgeable with the day to day operations and customs in the courthouses which source these communities.