Despite No-Fault Grounds for Dissolution of Marriage, Courts May Consider it When Issuing Monetary Awards

Superior Court of Connecticut: Post-Judgment Divorce Action

In a post-judgment divorce action involving dissolution of marriage, the Superior Court of Connecticut, Judicial District of Stamford-Norwalk at Stamford found that in no-fault divorce cases, courts may consider the causes of marriage dissolution in awarding alimony and assigning property.

The plaintiff, husband, and defendant, wife, were married in Chicago, Illinois in August 1993. In 2010, the husband filed for dissolution of the marriage, citing irretrievable breakdown. The wife filed a cross-complaint for dissolution on the game ground, noting her husband’s extramarital affair, domestic violence, and use of marijuana. Because the husband lived in Connecticut for at least a year prior to the filing, the court had jurisdiction to adjudicate the matter.

The trial court found that the husband’s extramarital affair was the single largest source of conflict with his wife and the immediate cause of the marriage breaking down, though the criteria of fault was given minimal weight. Regardless, the trial court awarded alimony based upon these causes, which the husband contended.

Connecticut: Dissolution of Marriage

In Connecticut, a person may seek dissolution of marriage based on “no fault” grounds, namely that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. Courts enjoy broad discretion when assigning property or awarding alimony, though they must consider each factor in General Statutes §§ 46b-81 and 46b-82, respectively, including causes for the annulment, dissolution of marriage, or legal separation. Courts have authority to accord more weight to fault than any other factor and need not give equal weight to every factor. Notably, litigants and courts alike use the phrases “causes for the dissolution” and “fault” interchangeably.

In this case, the court found that the husband’s behavior caused the dissolution of the marriage. It held that courts have authority to award a specific dollar amount in dividing the marital property based solely on the consideration of fault, and doing so in this case was proper.

Whether advancing or defending a post-judgment motion regarding awards of alimony and assignment of property, a divorced individual is best served by consulting with an experienced family law practitioner. Should you have questions regarding matrimonial matters, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya in the firm’s Westport office in Fairfield County at 203-221-3100 or at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.