1. What kinds of matters are decided in family court in Connecticut?
The following are family matters in Connecticut:
- Divorce (Dissolution of Marriage and Dissolution of Civil Union)
- Legal Separation
- Name Changes
- Custody of Children
- Civil Restraining Orders (Relief From Abuse)
- Visitation of Children
- Child Support
Where are the courts for family matters?
Although there are some exceptions, hearings in family matters are held in the Judicial District courthouses of the Superior Court. A Directory of Judicial District Courthouses is available and Directions may also be found on this web site. The date and location of any court event on a case would be on the paperwork sent to you by the court about that event. For example, if you have a hearing on a calendar, the information about when and where to go would be on the copy of the calendar that is sent to you. If the court has sent you a notice about an event, the information would be in the notice. If court papers were delivered to you or served on you that show that a hearing is scheduled, the date, time and location of the hearing would be in that paperwork. Court staff at the Clerk’s Office or Court Service Center where the case was filed can help anyone with questions about when and where to come to court.
Who decides family matters?
Judges decide most family matters. However, if a Paternity or Support case is brought under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act, or a party to the case signs up for IV-D services for the collection or enforcement of child support, a family support magistrate would decide the matter.
For more information, see Support Enforcement Services Child Support.
Are there forms for family matters?
There are many Family Matters Forms available on the Judicial Branch website for the public to use. The forms all have a name and a form number in the upper left corner. What you are asking the court to help you with would determine which form you would use. For example, if you are asking the court to modify a child support order, you would use the Motion for Modification form, number JD-FM-174.
What does it mean for a family case to be “uncontested?”
"Uncontested" is a word that is used to describe a case where the parties agree on all of the issues. “Contested” describes a case where the parties do not agree on all of the issues. In an uncontested case, the court is not asked to decide any contested issues, but is asked to review and approve the agreement of the parties. The court must find that the agreement of the parties is fair and equitable.
What if the case is not uncontested?
In any family case where the parties do not have an agreement, it may be handled in a way that gives the parties a chance to settle the case. For example, the case may be assigned for a Special Masters pretrial, where experienced attorneys who volunteer their time meet with the attorneys and the parties in the case to try to solve the issues. There are a number of other programs to help the case to be decided without a trial. Which program is right depends on the case. If the case can be decided without a trial, it can be handled as an uncontested case, sometimes on the same day. However, if the parties are not able to agree, a hearing or trial will be needed and a judge will decide, or a family support magistrate will decide if it is a IV-D child support case.
Where can I get help about family/domestic violence?
If you are being physically abused or threatened with physical abuse, you should contact the police and the family violence program nearest you. You may apply to the court for a restraining order to help protect you. Information about the restraining order process and domestic/family violence programs is in this brochure: "Restraining Orders: How to Apply for Relief from Abuse.
What is “Family Services” (sometimes called “Family Relations”)?
The Family Services Office of the Judicial Branch’s Court Support Services Division (CSSD) is sometimes referred to as “Family Relations” in family court. The Family Services Office provides negotiation, mediation and evaluation services to help the court and clients resolve child custody/access and financial matters. Family Services staff also work in the criminal court with defendants who have been arrested for family violence and provide assessments and recommendations focusing on victim safety and risk reduction. A description of the services provided by CSSD is in the Family Services Programs brochure.
Is there a list of individuals qualified to be appointed as a Guardian Ad
Litem (GAL) or Attorney for a Minor Child (AMC) in a family case?
The following is the list of individuals who have completed the training required by Practice Book Sections 25-62 & 25-62A and who are available to accept appointments from the court. Only a lawyer can be appointed as an Attorney for a Minor Child. The list displays an “X” in each court location for which the individual will take appointments. The “X” will be accompanied by an asterisk (*) in each court location for which the individual has been approved by, and is under contract with, the Division of Public Defender Services (DPDS) for payment by the state where a Judge or Family Support Magistrate orders state payment because of the financial circumstances of the parties. In the column entitled “Languages” you will find inserted any language(s) in which the individual reported having proficiency. "Titles" are provided by the listed individuals.
11. Can I look up my family case online?
Usually, you can see a summary of your case online in the Civil/Family Case Look-up after it has been filed, although no papers filed in the case can be seen online.
With some exceptions (such as divorces, which stay on the website for about 10 years), cases stay on the website for a length of time that follows the schedule in Sections 7-10 and 7-11 of the Connecticut Practice Book.
However, federal law prohibits certain information about restraining orders from being put on a public website, so if you are involved in a restraining order case, you will not be able to see information about your case online.
13. How do I get a copy of my divorce decree (or other document filed in my divorce case)? A copy of a document filed in your divorce case can generally be obtained from the Judicial District Clerk's Office in the court location where the divorce took place. Your divorce decree is referred to as the "Judgment File." The Clerk's Office will need your case name and docket number (the number that was assigned to the case), and there are fees for copying and certifying. Judgment Files have a flat fee, other documents have a per page copying fee with a certification fee, if needed.
14. Where can I get more information or help?
You may want to talk to an attorney if you think you need help with your case. The “Find a Lawyer” section of the Judicial Branch website may help you find an attorney.
Most Judicial District courthouses have a Court Service Center. Court Service Centers are self-help centers that provide services for self-represented parties and others. They are staffed by Judicial Branch employees and some Court Service Centers have bilingual staff.
There are also a number of Judicial Branch Publications about Family Matters. You can find them on the Judicial Branch web site and at Judicial District court locations. You may also want to review the “Self-Help” section of the Judicial Branch website for information that could apply to your situation, as well as the “Links Related to Family”.
The Connecticut Network for Legal Aid also has a number of self-help booklets for certain family matters that are on their web site.
Additional information is also available at the Law Libraries.