A common inquiry that divorce lawyers in towns such as Greenwich and Westport receive from potential clients is, “How soon can I be divorced?” Notably, the answer to this question changed only recently. Prior to October 1, 2015, divorcing spouses in Connecticut were required by statute to wait at least ninety days after the commencement of an action for divorce (often referred to as the “cooling off” period) before a divorce could be finalized. The purpose behind the “cooling off” period was steeped in public policy considerations. Specifically, the idea was that the mandatory waiting period would afford potentially divorcing spouses a period of time to reflect on whether they truly wished to divorce, and avoid making a quick decision on such a significant life-altering event. A second, and related purpose of the mandatory waiting period was to help ensure that divorcing parties would have sufficient time to gather and analyze information relevant to their divorce (including any necessary financial discovery), so as to reduce the risk that either party might “rush” into a potentially inequitable deal without proper consideration of all relevant information.
This mandatory waiting period, albeit well-intentioned, was often a source of great annoyance and frustration for spouses who had otherwise resolved all of the issues emanating from their marriage and wanted to put their divorce in the rear view mirror as quickly as possible. This roadblock to a speedy divorce was eliminated with the enactment of new legislation (in the form of an amendment to the prior statute pertaining to the mandatory waiting period), which became effective on October 1, 2015. This amendment, codified in Connecticut General Statutes section 46(b)-67(b), provides as follows (with reference also made below to the pertinent portion of subsection 46(b)-67(a) for purposes of providing context).
- Following the expiration of ninety days after the day on which a complaint for dissolution or legal separation is made returnable, or after the expiration of six months, where proceedings have been stayed under section 46b-53, the court may proceed on the complaint, or whenever dissolution is claimed under cross complaint, amended complaint or amended cross complaint, the case may be heard and a decree granted thereon after the expiration of the ninety days and twenty days after the cross complaint, amended complaint or amended cross complaint has been filed with the court…
- If the parties attest, under oath, that they have an agreement as to all terms of the dissolution of marriage or legal separation and wish the court to enter a decree of dissolution of marriage or legal separation prior to the expiration of the time periods set forth in subsection (a) of this section, and file a motion seeking the waiver of said time periods, the court may waive the provisions of subsection (a) of this section.
Pursuant to the foregoing amendment, where parties have reached an agreement as to all of terms of their divorce, they can submit a simple motion to the Court attesting to their respective waivers of the ninety day waiting period and ask the Court to finalize their divorce at an uncontested divorce hearing on the soonest possible date.
At Broder Orland Murray & DeMattie LLC, where a speedy resolution to a divorce is desired by a client and appropriate under the circumstances, we are adept at bringing cases to conclusion quickly via negotiated settlements. The new “Waive 90” legislation allows us to get clients to the finish line as soon as an agreement has been reached.