Connecticut Divorce Law on Living Separate Lives in the Same Home

By Heather Frances J.D.

Sometimes it is not feasible for one spouse to move out of the marital home in preparation for a divorce. The drive to save money by maintaining one household, as well as keeping both parents in frequent contact with the children, may encourage you and your spouse to remain living in the same home but establish separate lives. In Connecticut, you can still get a divorce if you live in the same house, but you cannot base the divorce on grounds of separation.

No-Fault Grounds

Connecticut offers two no-fault reasons, or grounds, for divorce: separation for at least 18 months or irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. Before you can use separation as your grounds, you must “live apart” from your spouse. However, there is nothing prohibiting you from living separately under the same roof if you choose to use the grounds of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. Since irretrievable breakdown is the easiest grounds to use, it is also the most popular of the grounds in Connecticut.

Fault Grounds

Connecticut also recognizes fault grounds for divorce or legal separation, and one of these fault grounds is based on a seven-year separation or absence. However, this type of separation means the filing spouse has not heard from the other spouse during the entire seven years, which will not work if you live in the same house.

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Converting Legal Separation into Divorce

Because you can also get a legal separation in Connecticut on the grounds of irretrievable breakdown, it's possible that you can be legally separated and living in the same house. If you want to convert your legal separation into a divorce, this is typically done under a summary procedure that simply requires one spouse to ask the court to enter a decree dissolving the marriage. However, if you and your spouse have resumed marital relations since the legal separation, a longer procedure is required.

After Divorce

Connecticut law does not prevent you from continuing to live in the same house after your divorce, but such an arrangement may present several problems. For example, your children may be confused by the arrangement and continuing to live together may make it difficult for you to move on. Both spouses can benefit from a clear plan addressing issues like who pays for maintenance and household supplies. In Connecticut, if the court awards you alimony, you risk having the alimony award reduced if you cohabit after your divorce and that cohabitation changes the circumstances upon which the court based your alimony award. For example, if the court awarded you alimony because you were not expected to earn enough to support yourself, your ex-spouse can ask the court to reduce your alimony because you do not have to support yourself on your own while both of you are living together.

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