In 1973, the Connecticut legislature completely changed our divorce laws. For the first time, people in Connecticut could get divorced if their marriage had suffered an irretrievable breakdown. It became no longer necessary to prove that because of adultery, intolerable cruelty, or some other reason your spouse was at fault in the breakdown of the marriage. Instead, if one spouse believes the marriage is dead the court can dissolve the marriage. Thus, many people refer to our state as having “no fault divorce.”
In making financial awards, however, the court can still take into consideration why the marriage broke down. And, the court can consider fault in deciding who gets custody of the children. Thus, adultery, violence, alcohol or drug abuse, and other types of “fault” do play a role, even in “no fault” divorce. Do not assume that your conduct or your spouse’s conduct during the marriage will have no bearing on the judge’s decision. Because the court may consider fault, do not be surprised if your lawyer asks about fault or if your spouse’s lawyer brings it up.
The legislature, when it changed our laws in 1973, also decided that the time had come to remove some of the stigma of divorce. The victim is no longer granted a “divorce” from the villain. Instead the parties’ marriage is dissolved. Bad habits are hard to break. Most people, including lawyers, continue to refer to dissolution of marriage as divorce.