CHAPTER 815j

DISSOLUTION OF MARRIAGE, LEGAL SEPARATION
AND ANNULMENT

Table of Contents

Sec. 46b-56f. Emergency ex parte order of custody.

Sec. 46b-59. Petition for right of visitation with minor child. Order for payment of fees.

Sec. 46b-81. (Formerly Sec. 46-51). Assignment of property and transfer of title.

Sec. 46b-82. (Formerly Sec. 46-52). Alimony.

Sec. 46b-86. (Formerly Sec. 46-54). Modification of alimony or support orders and judgments.


PART I

GENERAL PROVISIONS

Sec. 46b-56f. Emergency ex parte order of custody. (a) Any person seeking custody of a minor child pursuant to section 46b-56 or pursuant to an action brought under section 46b-40 may make an application to the Superior Court for an emergency ex parte order of custody when such person believes an immediate and present risk of physical danger or psychological harm to the child exists.

(b) The application shall be accompanied by an affidavit made under oath which includes a statement (1) of the conditions requiring an emergency ex parte order, (2) that an emergency ex parte order is in the best interests of the child, and (3) of the actions taken by the applicant or any other person to inform the respondent of the request or, if no such actions to inform the respondent were taken, the reasons why the court should consider such application on an ex parte basis absent such actions.

(c) Upon receipt of the application, the court shall order that a hearing on the application be held not later than fourteen days from the date of such order for hearing. If, prior to or after such hearing, the court finds that an immediate and present risk of physical danger or psychological harm to the child exists, the court may, in its discretion, issue an emergency ex parte order for the protection of the child and may inform the Department of Children and Families of relevant information in the affidavit for investigation purposes. The emergency ex parte order may provide temporary child custody or visitation rights and may enjoin the respondent from: (1) Removing the child from the state; (2) interfering with the applicant’s custody of the child; (3) interfering with the child’s educational program; or (4) taking any other specific action if the court determines that prohibiting such action is in the best interests of the child. If a postponement of a hearing on the application is requested by either party and granted, no ex parte order shall be granted or continued except upon agreement of the parties or by order of the court for good cause shown.

(d) The applicant shall cause notice of the hearing and a copy of the application, the applicant’s affidavit, and the ex parte order, if issued, to be served on the respondent not less than five days before the hearing on the application.

(P.A. 13-194, S. 4.)

Sec. 46b-59. Petition for right of visitation with minor child. Order for payment of fees. (a) As used in this section:

(1) “Grandparent” means a grandparent or great-grandparent related to a minor child by (A) blood, (B) marriage, or (C) adoption of the minor child by a child of the grandparent; and

(2) “Real and significant harm” means that the minor child is neglected, as defined in section 46b-120, or uncared for, as defined in said section.

(b) Any person may submit a verified petition to the Superior Court for the right of visitation with any minor child. Such petition shall include specific and good-faith allegations that (1) a parent-like relationship exists between the person and the minor child, and (2) denial of visitation would cause real and significant harm. Subject to subsection (e) of this section, the court shall grant the right of visitation with any minor child to any person if the court finds after hearing and by clear and convincing evidence that a parent-like relationship exists between the person and the minor child and denial of visitation would cause real and significant harm.

(c) In determining whether a parent-like relationship exists between the person and the minor child, the Superior Court may consider, but shall not be limited to, the following factors:

(1) The existence and length of a relationship between the person and the minor child prior to the submission of a petition pursuant to this section;

(2) The length of time that the relationship between the person and the minor child has been disrupted;

(3) The specific parent-like activities of the person seeking visitation toward the minor child;

(4) Any evidence that the person seeking visitation has unreasonably undermined the authority and discretion of the custodial parent;

(5) The significant absence of a parent from the life of a minor child;

(6) The death of one of the minor child’s parents;

(7) The physical separation of the parents of the minor child;

(8) The fitness of the person seeking visitation; and

(9) The fitness of the custodial parent.

(d) In determining whether a parent-like relationship exists between a grandparent seeking visitation pursuant to this section and a minor child, the Superior Court may consider, in addition to the factors enumerated in subsection (c) of this section, the history of regular contact and proof of a close and substantial relationship between the grandparent and the minor child.

(e) If the Superior Court grants the right of visitation pursuant to subsection (b) of this section, the court shall set forth the terms and conditions of visitation including, but not limited to, the schedule of visitation, including the dates or days, time and place or places in which the visitation can occur, whether overnight visitation will be allowed and any other terms and conditions that the court determines are in the best interest of the minor child, provided such conditions shall not be contingent upon any order of financial support by the court. In determining the best interest of the minor child, the court shall consider the wishes of the minor child if such minor child is of sufficient age and capable of forming an intelligent opinion. In determining the terms and conditions of visitation, the court may consider (1) the effect that such visitation will have on the relationship between the parents or guardians of the minor child and the minor child, and (2) the effect on the minor child of any domestic violence that has occurred between or among parents, grandparents, persons seeking visitation and the minor child.

(f) Visitation rights granted in accordance with this section shall not be deemed to have created parental rights in the person or persons to whom such visitation rights are granted, nor shall such visitation rights be a ground for preventing the relocation of the custodial parent. The grant of such visitation rights shall not prevent any court of competent jurisdiction from thereafter acting upon the custody of such child, the parental rights with respect to such child or the adoption of such child and any such court may include in its decree an order terminating such visitation rights.

(g) Upon motion, the court may order the payment of fees for another party, the attorney for the minor child, the guardian ad litem, or any expert by any party in accordance with such party’s financial ability.

(P.A. 78-69; P.A. 79-8; P.A. 83-95; P.A. 12-137, S. 1; P.A. 13-97, S. 6.)

History: P.A. 79-8 added proviso specifying that grant of visitation rights is not contingent upon order for financial support; P.A. 83-95 deleted provisions re visitation rights of grandparents and permitted court to grant right of visitation to any person; P.A. 12-137 deleted former provisions re granting right of visitation, orders according to court’s best judgment and making, modifying or terminating orders, designated provisions re parental rights, custody and adoption as Subsec. (f) and amended same to add provision re relocation and added Subsecs. (a) to (e) and (g) re petition for right of visitation with minor child and re order for payment of fees; P.A. 13-97 amended Subsec. (e) by replacing reference to Subsec. (c) with reference to Subsec. (b), effective June 6, 2013.

PART III

SUPPORT OF CHILD AND SPOUSE.
TRANSFER OF PROPERTY

Sec. 46b-81. (Formerly Sec. 46-51). Assignment of property and transfer of title. (a) At the time of entering a decree annulling or dissolving a marriage or for legal separation pursuant to a complaint under section 46b-45, the Superior Court may assign to either spouse all or any part of the estate of the other spouse. The court may pass title to real property to either party or to a third person or may order the sale of such real property, without any act by either spouse, when in the judgment of the court it is the proper mode to carry the decree into effect.

(b) A conveyance made pursuant to the decree shall vest title in the purchaser, and shall bind all persons entitled to life estates and remainder interests in the same manner as a sale ordered by the court pursuant to the provisions of section 52-500. When the decree is recorded on the land records in the town where the real property is situated, it shall effect the transfer of the title of such real property as if it were a deed of the party or parties.

(c) In fixing the nature and value of the property, if any, to be assigned, the court, after considering all the evidence presented by each party, shall consider the length of the marriage, the causes for the annulment, dissolution of the marriage or legal separation, the age, health, station, occupation, amount and sources of income, earning capacity, vocational skills, education, employability, estate, liabilities and needs of each of the parties and the opportunity of each for future acquisition of capital assets and income. The court shall also consider the contribution of each of the parties in the acquisition, preservation or appreciation in value of their respective estates.

(P.A. 73-373, S. 20; P.A. 75-331; P.A. 78-230, S. 36, 54; P.A. 13-213, S. 2.)

History: P.A. 75-331 authorized court to pass title to real property to either party or a third person or to order sale of property and added provisions relating to transfer or sale of property; P.A. 78-230 divided section into Subsecs. and changed wording slightly; Sec. 46-51 transferred to Sec. 46b-81 in 1979 and references to other sections within provisions revised as necessary to reflect their transfer; P.A. 13-213 amended Subsec. (a) by replacing “the husband or wife” with “spouse” and by making a technical change and amended Subsec. (c) by replacing “hearing the witnesses, if any, of each party, except as provided in subsection (a) of section 46b-51” with “considering all the evidence presented by each party” and by adding “earning capacity” and “education” as factors considered by the court in fixing the nature and value of the property to be assigned.

Sec. 46b-82. (Formerly Sec. 46-52). Alimony. (a) At the time of entering the decree, the Superior Court may order either of the parties to pay alimony to the other, in addition to or in lieu of an award pursuant to section 46b-81. The order may direct that security be given therefor on such terms as the court may deem desirable, including an order pursuant to subsection (b) of this section or an order to either party to contract with a third party for periodic payments or payments contingent on a life to the other party. The court may order that a party obtain life insurance as such security unless such party proves, by a preponderance of the evidence, that such insurance is not available to such party, such party is unable to pay the cost of such insurance or such party is uninsurable. In determining whether alimony shall be awarded, and the duration and amount of the award, the court shall consider the evidence presented by each party and shall consider the length of the marriage, the causes for the annulment, dissolution of the marriage or legal separation, the age, health, station, occupation, amount and sources of income, earning capacity, vocational skills, education, employability, estate and needs of each of the parties and the award, if any, which the court may make pursuant to section 46b-81, and, in the case of a parent to whom the custody of minor children has been awarded, the desirability and feasibility of such parent’s securing employment.

(b) If the court, following a trial or hearing on the merits, enters an order pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, or section 46b-86, and such order by its terms will terminate only upon the death of either party or the remarriage of the alimony recipient, the court shall articulate with specificity the basis for such order.

(c) Any postjudgment procedure afforded by chapter 906 shall be available to secure the present and future financial interests of a party in connection with a final order for the periodic payment of alimony.

(P.A. 73-373, S. 21; P.A. 78-230, S. 37, 54; P.A. 83-527, S. 1; P.A. 03-130, S. 3; 03-202, S. 23; P.A. 13-213, S. 3.)

History: P.A. 78-230 restated provisions; Sec. 46-52 transferred to Sec. 46b-82 in 1979 and references to other sections within provisions revised as necessary to reflect their transfer; P.A. 83-527 added provision that court may order either party to contract with a third party for periodic payments or payments contingent on a life to the other party; P.A. 03-130 designated existing provisions as Subsec. (a), adding provision re order pursuant to Subsec. (b) therein, and added Subsec. (b) re availability of postjudgment procedure; P.A. 03-202 added provision re order to obtain life insurance as security; P.A. 13-213 amended Subsec. (a) by replacing “hear the witnesses, if any, of each party, except as provided in subsection (a) of section 46b-51,” with “consider the evidence presented by each party and”, by adding “earning capacity” and “education” re factors considered by the court in determining whether alimony is to be awarded and by adding “and feasibility” re a custodial parent’s ability to secure employment, added new Subsec. (b) re court’s responsibility to articulate with specificity the basis for an order of alimony, entered following a trial or hearing on the merits, that is to terminate only upon the death of either party or the remarriage of the alimony recipient and redesignated existing Subsec. (b) as Subsec. (c).

Sec. 46b-86. (Formerly Sec. 46-54). Modification of alimony or support orders and judgments. (a) Unless and to the extent that the decree precludes modification, any final order for the periodic payment of permanent alimony or support, an order for alimony or support pendente lite or an order requiring either party to maintain life insurance for the other party or a minor child of the parties may, at any time thereafter, be continued, set aside, altered or modified by the court upon a showing of a substantial change in the circumstances of either party or upon a showing that the final order for child support substantially deviates from the child support guidelines established pursuant to section 46b-215a, unless there was a specific finding on the record that the application of the guidelines would be inequitable or inappropriate. There shall be a rebuttable presumption that any deviation of less than fifteen per cent from the child support guidelines is not substantial and any deviation of fifteen per cent or more from the guidelines is substantial. Modification may be made of such support order without regard to whether the order was issued before, on or after May 9, 1991. In determining whether to modify a child support order based on a substantial deviation from such child support guidelines the court shall consider the division of real and personal property between the parties set forth in the final decree and the benefits accruing to the child as the result of such division. After the date of judgment, modification of any child support order issued before, on or after July 1, 1990, may be made upon a showing of such substantial change of circumstances, whether or not such change of circumstances was contemplated at the time of dissolution. By written agreement, stipulation or decision of the court, those items or circumstances that were contemplated and are not to be changed may be specified in the written agreement, stipulation or decision of the court. This section shall not apply to assignments under section 46b-81 or to any assignment of the estate or a portion thereof of one party to the other party under prior law. No order for periodic payment of permanent alimony or support may be subject to retroactive modification, except that the court may order modification with respect to any period during which there is a pending motion for modification of an alimony or support order from the date of service of notice of such pending motion upon the opposing party pursuant to section 52-50. If a court, after hearing, finds that a substantial change in circumstances of either party has occurred, the court shall determine what modification of alimony, if any, is appropriate, considering the criteria set forth in section 46b-82.

(b) In an action for divorce, dissolution of marriage, legal separation or annulment brought by a spouse, in which a final judgment has been entered providing for the payment of periodic alimony by one party to the other spouse, the Superior Court may, in its discretion and upon notice and hearing, modify such judgment and suspend, reduce or terminate the payment of periodic alimony upon a showing that the party receiving the periodic alimony is living with another person under circumstances which the court finds should result in the modification, suspension, reduction or termination of alimony because the living arrangements cause such a change of circumstances as to alter the financial needs of that party. In the event that a final judgment incorporates a provision of an agreement in which the parties agree to circumstances, other than as provided in this subsection, under which alimony will be modified, including suspension, reduction, or termination of alimony, the court shall enforce the provision of such agreement and enter orders in accordance therewith.

(c) When one of the parties, or a child of the parties, is receiving or has received aid or care from the state under its aid to families with dependent children or temporary family assistance program, HUSKY Plan, Part A, or foster care program as provided in Title IV-E of the Social Security Act, or when one of the parties has applied for child support enforcement services under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act as provided in section 17b-179, such motion to modify shall be filed with the Family Support Magistrate Division for determination in accordance with subsection (m) of section 46b-231.

(P.A. 73-373, S. 23; P.A. 78-230, S. 39, 54; P.A. 86-359, S. 2, 44; P.A. 87-104; P.A. 89-360, S. 12, 45; P.A. 90-188, S. 1; 90-213, S. 46, 56; P.A. 91-76, S. 1, 7; June 18 Sp. Sess. P.A. 97-2, S. 105, 165; P.A. 01-135, S. 2, 3; P.A. 10-36, S. 6; P.A. 11-214, S. 8; P.A. 13-213, S. 4.)

History: P.A. 78-230 added Subsec. (b) re changes in alimony when recipient is living with another person and changed circumstances alter recipient’s financial needs; Sec. 46-54 transferred to Sec. 46b-86 in 1979 and internal reference to Sec. 46-51 revised to reflect its transfer; P.A. 86-359 added Subsec. (c) re referral of motion to modify to family support magistrate where one of parties or child is receiving or has received aid from AFDC program or foster care program or where one of parties has applied for child support enforcement services under Title IV-D; P.A. 87-104 provided that (1) after date of judgment, modification may be made upon showing of substantive change in circumstances, whether or not such change of circumstances was contemplated at the time of dissolution and (2) those items that were contemplated and are not to be changed may be specified in the written agreement, stipulation or decision of the court; P.A. 89-360 amended Subsec. (c) by changing “referred to” to “filed with” and added “determination in accordance with subsection (m) of section 46b-231”; P.A. 90-188 amended Subsec. (a) by adding provision permitting modification of child support order if it substantially deviates from the child support guidelines established under Sec. 46b-215a unless inequitable or inappropriate, and prohibiting retroactive modification of order of periodic payment or permanent alimony or support, except during period of pending motion for modification; P.A. 90-213 added provision that modifications can be made pursuant to this section to support orders issued before or after July 1, 1990; P.A. 91-76 amended Subsec. (a) by adding provision re rebuttable presumption that deviation of less than 15% from child support guidelines is not substantial and any deviation of more than 15% is substantial and permitting modification of support order without regard to whether order issued before on or after May 9, 1991; June 18 Sp. Sess. P.A. 97-2 amended Subsec. (c) to make technical and conforming changes re references to assistance programs, effective July 1, 1997; P.A. 01-135 amended Subsec. (a) by adding provision permitting court to order either party to maintain life insurance for other party or minor child of parties, effective July 1, 2001; P.A. 10-36 amended Subsec. (a) to reposition provision re order to maintain life insurance and make technical changes, effective July 1, 2010; P.A. 11-214 amended Subsec. (c) to substitute “temporary family assistance” for “temporary assistance for needy families”, add “HUSKY Plan, Part A”, and make technical changes; P.A. 13-213 amended Subsec. (a) by adding provision re determination of alimony modification upon finding that a substantial change in circumstances of either party has occurred, and amended Subsec. (b) by replacing “husband or wife” with “spouse”, by adding provision re if final judgment incorporates a provision of an agreement in which the parties agree to circumstances under which alimony is to be modified, suspended, reduced or terminated, the court shall enforce such agreement and enter orders accordingly, and by making a technical change.