Family Matters
Frequently Asked Questions

General Information  |  Divorce  |  Private Mediation/Collaborative Divorce  |  Guardian Ad Litem  |  Attorney for Minor Child
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General Information
  1. Can I look up my family case online?
  2. Where can I get more information or help?
  3. Can I hire a lawyer to help me with part of my court case?
  4. Who decides family matters?
  5. I am a party in a family case. How do I change the address that the Court has on file?
  6. What can I expect on the resolution plan date in my divorce, custody or visitation case?
Divorce
  1. I want to file for divorce but can't afford an attorney. Are there resources available?
  2. What does it cost to file papers with the court?
  3. Do I need to pay a fee if I have been referred to Family Services?
  4. How do I get a copy of my divorce decree (or other documents filed in my divorce case)?
Private Mediation/Collaborative Divorce
  1. What is private divorce mediation?
  2. What is interest-based mediation?
  3. What is the role of the facilitative divorce mediator in interest-based mediation?
  4. What is evaluative mediation?
  5. If we participate in divorce mediation, do we have to go to court?
  6. Are conversations that occur during the mediation confidential?
  7. How are decisions made in interest-based mediation?
  8. Do I need an attorney?
  9. Where are mediation sessions held?
  10. What are some of the benefits of mediation?
  11. What kinds of matters can be addressed in mediation?
  12. If an attorney mediator is used, does our mediator represent both of us?
  13. How much will private divorce mediation cost us?
  14. How do we find a mediator?
  15. What is collaborative divorce?
  16. How does this team work?
  17. Do we have to use a full team?
  18. How do we negotiate?
  19. What is my role in the collaborative process?
  20. Where are meetings held?
  21. What kinds of matters can be addressed in collaboration?
  22. What are some of the benefits of collaborative divorce?
  23. Won’t it cost more with all of these people on the team?
  24. How do I find a collaborative professional?
Guardian Ad Litem
  1. What is a guardian ad litem (GAL)?
  2. Who can be a GAL?
  3. What is the role of a GAL?
  4. What can a parent in a family court matter expect from a GAL?
  5. Who pays the GAL?
  6. Is there a sliding scale fee option for parents with limited resources?
  7. Can a GAL be removed from a case?
  8. Is there a list of individuals qualified to be appointed as a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) in a family case?
  9. Can a GAL be removed from the list of individuals qualified to be appointed as a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) in a family case?
  10. Is there a Code of Conduct for Guardians Ad Litem?
Attorney for the Minor Child
  1. What is an Attorney for a Minor Child (AMC)?
  2. Who can be an AMC?
  3. What is the role of an AMC?
  4. What can a parent in a family court matter expect from an AMC?
  5. Who pays the AMC?
  6. Can an AMC be removed from a case?
  7. Is there a list of individuals qualified to be appointed as an Attorney for a Minor Child (AMC) in a family case?
  8. Can an AMC be removed from the list of individuals qualified to be appointed as an Attorney for the Minor Child (AMC) in a family case?
  9. Is there a Code of Conduct for Attorneys for the Minor Child?


General Information

1. 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.
 
Please also note that self-represented Parties can enroll in E-Services to file family and cases and documents in e-filable cases online (electronically) in the Superior Court. You can find more information about how to enroll by going to the E-Filing Manual for Civil, Family and Housing Matters - Guide for Self-Represented Parties

2. 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. To hire a lawyer for part of your case, see Limited Scope Representation - Frequently Asked Questions. Additionally, the Judicial Branch has Volunteer Attorney Programs.

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 AidExternal Link 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

3. Can I hire a lawyer to help me with part of my court case?

For information about hiring a lawyer for part of your court case, please see the Limited Scope Representation Frequently Asked Questions. You may also download the informational pamphlet: Hiring a Lawyer for Part of Your Legal Matter ("Limited Scope Representation") - PDF

4. 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
.

5. I am a party in a family case. How do I change the address that the Court has on file?

You would need to file an updated Appearance Form. Check the box right under the instructions that says I am filing this appearance to let the court and all attorneys and self-represented parties of record know that I have changed my address. My new address is below. Then fill in your complete updated address on the form.

6. What can I expect on the resolution plan date in my divorce, custody or visitation case?

Click this link for information.

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Divorce

1. I want to file for divorce but can't afford an attorney. Are there resources available?

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. The Connecticut Network for Legal AidExternal Link also has a number of self-help booklets for certain family matters that are on their web site.


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".


Additional information is also available at the Law Libraries.

You may hire a lawyer for part of your case, see Limited Scope Representation - Frequently Asked Questions.


Finally, the Judicial Branch has Volunteer Attorney Programs.


2. What does it cost to file papers with the court?

There are different fees for different kinds of papers that you might be filing with the court. The fees are listed in the Fee Schedule
.

3. Do I need to pay a fee if I have been referred to Family Services?

There are no fees associated with services that Family Services provides. However, there may be fees associated with programs that Family Services recommends that you attend.
 

4. 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.

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Private Mediation/Collaborative Divorce

1. What is private divorce mediation?

Private divorce mediation is a private and confidential out-of-court settlement process. While there are several styles of private mediation, the most common in Connecticut is interest-based (facilitative) mediation.

2. What is interest-based mediation?

A divorcing couple uses one neutral professional (Attorney, Financial Divorce Professional or Mental Health provider, e.g., Co-parenting specialist) who helps a couple reach an agreement concerning their divorce, custody, or post-divorce issues.

3. What is the role of the facilitative divorce mediator in interest-based mediation?

In interest-based mediation, the mediator “facilitates” the divorcing or parenting couple’s communication and decision-making and helps them come to an agreement. If the mediator is an attorney, the mediator ensures they have discussed all the legal issues before them and prepares court documents to complete the divorce or custody proceeding.

4. What is evaluative mediation?

In contrast to interest-based (facilitative) mediation, evaluative mediation is a process in which the mediator actually gives the divorcing or parenting couple their opinion and suggests remedies. The mediator may also inform the couple as to what they think a judge might rule if the couple were to go to court.

5. If we participate in divorce mediation, do we have to go to court?

No. Once you reach an agreement, the necessary paperwork is filed and you can request, through affidavits, that a family court judge review the paperwork and grant your dissolution of marriage without physically going to the courthouse. If the Judge has questions, they may request that you appear on video or in person. In that event, your mediator may be able to join you.

6. Are conversations that occur during the mediation confidential?

Yes. With very limited exceptions, conversations during the mediation process are confidential and are protected by Connecticut General Statutes § 52-235d.

7. How are decisions made in interest-based mediation?

In interest-based mediation, YOU make the decisions. The mediator starts the process by finding out what is important to you, your goals and interests and helps you understand the legal questions that must be answered. The mediator will make sure you have all the necessary information to make informed decisions. You must be willing to provide necessary information, remain open to hearing each other's concerns, and be willing to compromise to reach a mutually acceptable resolution without having the court decide the issues.

8. Do I need an attorney?

If the mediator is an attorney, they can draft your agreement and other legal documents. If your mediator is not an attorney, they will refer you to an Attorney to draft the documents. Your mediator may also recommend that you hire your own attorney for legal advice, if needed.

9. Where are mediation sessions held?

Mediation sessions take place in the mediator’s office, or virtually, so that conversations remain private and confidential, and are scheduled when it is convenient for all participants.

10. What are some of the benefits of mediation?

  • Creative problem solving often leads to an agreement specially tailored to the clients’ goals and the needs of your children, if any.
  • Agreements like this tend to be durable and less likely to create issues for the parties in the future.
  • Generally, the mediation process costs less than going to court to argue about the issues that are of concern.
  • Generally, the mediation process is quicker and less expensive than going to court because you do not have to wait to be assigned court dates when Judges and other court personnel are available.

11. What kinds of matters can be addressed in mediation?

Matters concerning dissolution of marriage, custody and parenting, the family home, division of marital debt and assets, dividing retirement accounts, child support, spousal support, property values, medical and life insurance, parentage, and educational concerns can be addressed in mediation.

12. If an attorney mediator is used, does our mediator represent both of us?

No. The attorney mediator does not represent either party. That person is a neutral professional who helps you reach an agreement. You may wish to hire private counsel to offer legal advice and/or to review any agreement before signing it.

13. How much will private divorce mediation cost us?

The cost of private divorce mediation varies depending on the complexity of the issues involved, the mediator’s fees, and the willingness of the parties to cooperate in the process. Some mediators offer flat-fee services, others bill hourly, per session or bill against a retainer. Some mediators will offer a free or reduced-rate initial consultation.

14. How do we find a mediator?

You can search online or ask your friends and family members. Since mediators are not licensed in Connecticut it is important to ask about their training, experience, and fees.

There are many styles of mediation from interest-based (facilitative) to evaluative. A mediator with an interest-based style helps facilitate decision-making by the clients while a mediator with an evaluative style provides more direction as to agreements between the clients.

15. What is collaborative divorce?

Collaborative Divorce is a private and confidential, out-of-court settlement process utilizing a team approach to divorce, custody, or post-divorce issues in which the clients are represented by specially trained attorneys joined by a neutral coach and/or financial professional. The collaborative professionals cannot participate in adversarial court proceedings.

16. How does this team work?

The collaborative team works together to support the clients, with each professional having a well-defined role: the attorneys to assist with legal education and negotiations, the financial advisor to collect the data and assist with financial education and planning, and the coach to support the emotional, communication and parenting components.

17. Do we have to use a full team?

No. Seek a consultation with a Collaborative Professional who can explain the benefits of a full-team approach. Some Attorneys will only work in full teams, others will work with partial teams.

18. How do we negotiate?

The focus of negotiations is on problem solving tailored to the clients’ unique goals, priorities, and the needs of any children. Agreements reached in this fashion tend to be durable and less likely to create issues for the parties in the future.

19. What is my role in the collaborative process?

The collaborative process is voluntary. Both clients must be willing to provide necessary information, remain open to hearing each other’s concerns, and be willing to compromise to reach a mutually acceptable resolution without having the court decide the issues.

Other neutral experts can be retained, for example to address questions of asset valuation or mental health concerns, to provide specialized information without polarizing the clients.

20. Where are meetings held?

Meetings take place in the professional’s office or virtually, not in the courthouse, and are scheduled when it is convenient for all participants.

21. What kinds of matters can be addressed in collaboration?

Matters concerning dissolution of marriage, custody and parenting, the family home, division of marital debt and assets, dividing retirement accounts, child support, spousal support, property values, medical and life insurance, parentage, educational concerns, and pre-nuptial agreements can be addressed in the collaborative process.

22. What are some of the benefits of collaborative divorce?

  • Creative problem solving often leads to an agreement specially tailored to the clients’ goals and the needs of your children, if any.
  • Agreements like this tend to be durable and less likely to create issues for the parties in the future.
  • Generally, the collaborative process is quicker and less expensive than going to court because you do not have to wait to be assigned court dates when Judges and other court personnel are available.


23. Won’t it cost more with all of these people on the team?

Having specifically trained people working in their areas of expertise often moves the process in a more efficient manner resulting in a quicker and less expensive resolution.

24. How do I find a collaborative professional?

You can search online or ask your friends and family members. Many collaborative professionals are members of practice groups comprising members of all three professions (legal, financial professional, and coaching.) They may offer a free or reduced-rate initial consultation.

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Guardian Ad Litem

1. What is a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL)?

A guardian ad litem, often referred to as a GAL, is an individual the court appoints, either upon motion of a party or when the court determines a GAL is necessary. The court will consider the appointment of a GAL if the parties are unable to resolve a parenting or child related dispute. In such event, the court appoints a GAL to ensure the child's best interests are represented during the course of the parties' dispute. The GAL's role is different from that of an Attorney for a Minor Child (AMC). The GAL represents the child's best interests while the AMC represents the child's legal interests and supports the child's best interests.

2. Who can be a GAL?
Only an individual who has completed the comprehensive training program required by Practice Book Section 25-62, which is sponsored by the Judicial Branch, is eligible to be a GAL.

3. What is the role of a GAL?
In cases where the parties are unable to agree on a parenting plan or there is a child related dispute, the court may order a GAL to independently represent the best interests of the child. The GAL does not represent the mother, father or any other party in the case. The GAL only represents the best interests of the child. The GAL does not make decisions for the court. The court may need the GAL to perform certain functions. Some of the functions could be:

  • Investigate facts
  • Interview the parties and the child
  • Review files and records
  • Talk to teachers, coaches, and others
  • Speak with medical professionals
  • Participate in court hearings
  • Make recommendations to the court
  • Encourage settlement of disputes

The court may also need the GAL to perform other functions not listed above to make a determination as to the best interests of the child. The court will specify the role of the GAL in each case.

4. What can a parent in a family court matter expect from a GAL?
A parent should expect a GAL to be fair and impartial. The GAL is expected to avoid any conflict of interest, be courteous and professional and act in good faith. The GAL is expected to complete his or her duties in a timely fashion and to maintain accurate records pertaining to both the duties performed and the fees he or she is owed for performing those duties.


5. Who pays the GAL?

The parties to the case pay the fees for the GAL. Each party is required to submit a financial affidavit to the court. The court will consider each party's financial situation and order how the payment is to be split between them. In some cases, the parties may qualify for the appointment of a GAL that is paid for by the state. The parties must submit their financial affidavits to the court for review. If the parties meet the eligibility requirements of the Division of Public Defender Services, the court will appoint a GAL who is paid for by the state.

6. Is there a sliding scale fee option for parents with limited resources?

On October 1, 2014, the following sliding fee scale took effect for counsel or a guardian ad litem appointed in a family relations matter pursuant to Public Act 14-3.


DIVISION OF PUBLIC DEFENDER SERVICES FEE SCALE

Parents' Combined Gross Income Appointed AMC/GAL Hourly Rate
$00.00 - $49,300 (for parents with one minor child; for each additional minor child add $12,850 to the upper limit) State paid*

* As of January 1, 2024, the state pays the GAL/AMC a flat fee of $675, plus $88/hour for hourly billing events approved by the Division of Public Defender Services contract.

JUDICIAL BRANCH SLIDING FEE SCALE

Parents' Combined Gross Income* Appointed AMC/GAL Hourly Rate
$49,300.01   -  $64,740.00 $75/hr - $100/hr
$64,740.01  -  $89,740.00 $100/hr - $150/hr
$89,740.01   -  $119,740.00 $150/hr - $225/hr


* The sliding fee scale is based upon the combined gross income of the parents and assumes one child. The scale is only applicable to cases where the combined gross income of the parents is $119,740 or less.

In addition to considering the parents' gross income, the court may also consider other factors to determine whether application of the scale is appropriate and at what level, including:

  1. All other information set forth on the parents' financial affidavits;
  2. Total number of dependent children;
  3. The hourly rate charged by the parties' own lawyers;
  4. The complexity of the issues before the court;
  5. The gross income and other information on the financial affidavit of any intervening party or third party applicant;
  6. Source(s) of additional household income, including funding source for current litigation.

7. Can a GAL be removed from a case?
If a party believes that a GAL has acted improperly in a family case, he or she can file a motion to ask the court to remove the GAL from the case. After the motion is filed, the court may refer the motion to the Family Services Unit of the court. If the parties involved in the case cannot resolve the motion themselves, the court will have a hearing and decide the motion.

8. Is there a list of individuals qualified to be appointed as a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) 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.


9. Can a GAL be removed from the list of individuals qualified to be appointed as a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) in a family case?

Pursuant to Practice Book Section 25-61A(b)(3), the Standing Committee on Guardians Ad Litem and Attorneys for the Minor Child in Family Matters has established a removal process by complaint by which an individual may be removed from the list. That process can be found here.

If a Complainant, as defined by the removal process document, believes that a GAL presents an imminent risk of significant harm to the health, safety, or welfare of the public, they may file a Complaint with the Standing Committee. There is no fee to file a complaint. The Complaint must be filed on form JD-FM-276, Complaint against Guardian Ad Litem/ Attorney for Minor Child.

NOTE: A GAL CANNOT be removed from an individual case through this process. See FAQ #7 in this section for information on how to ask the court to remove a GAL from an individual case.

Questions regarding this process can be emailed to GALApprovedList@jud.ct.gov.

The Complaint form, and instructions on how to complete and file it, can be found here.


10. Is there a Code of Conduct for GALs?
Yes, there is a Code of Conduct for Attorney for the Minor Child and Guardian ad Litem, which is available on this website.

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Attorney for the Minor Child

1. What is an Attorney for a Minor Child (AMC)?
An attorney for a minor child, often referred to as an AMC and also called Counsel for the Minor Child is an individual the court appoints, either upon motion of a party or when the court determines an AMC is necessary to advocate for the best interests of the child. The court will consider the appointment of an AMC if the parties are unable to resolve a parenting or child related dispute. The AMC's role is different from that of a guardian ad litem (GAL). The AMC represents the child's legal interests and supports the child's best interests, while the GAL represents only the child's best interests.

2. Who can be an AMC?

Only an attorney who has completed the comprehensive training program required by Practice Book Section 25-62, which is sponsored by the Judicial Branch, is eligible to be an AMC. The AMC cannot be the same attorney that is representing either of the parents.

3. What is the role of an AMC?
In cases where the parties are unable to agree on a parenting plan or there is a child related dispute, the court may appoint an AMC to be the child's attorney. The court will specify the role of the AMC in each case. Just as the parents may have their own attorneys advocating on their behalf, the AMC represents the child's wishes and advocates on the child's behalf. The AMC can speak in court on all matters pertaining to the interests of the child including custody, care, support, education and visitation. The AMC can also file motions and call witnesses on behalf of the child in court. Unlike a GAL, an AMC does not testify as a witness, but participates fully as a lawyer in the case.

4. What can a parent in a family court matter expect from an AMC?

The AMC is expected to avoid any conflict of interest, be courteous and professional and act in good faith. An AMC is bound by the Rules of Professional Conduct governing attorneys in Connecticut. The client, however, is not either of the parents, but the child. The AMC's duty is to the child, and the parents should not expect the AMC to advocate or argue on their behalf.

5. Who pays the AMC?

The parties to the case pay the fees for the AMC. Each party is required to submit a financial affidavit to the court. The court will consider each party's financial situation and order how such payment is to be split between them. In some cases, the parties may qualify for the appointment of an AMC that is paid for by the state. The parties must submit their financial affidavits to the court for review. If the parties meet the eligibility requirements of the Division of Public Defender Services, the court will appoint an AMC who is paid for by the state.

6. Can an AMC be removed from a case?

If a party believes that an AMC has acted improperly in a family case, he or she can file a motion to ask the court to remove the AMC from the case. After the motion is filed, the court may refer the motion to the Family Services Unit of the court. If the parties involved in the case cannot resolve the motion themselves, the court will have a hearing and decide the motion.

7. Is there a list of individuals qualified to be appointed as an 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.


8. Can an AMC be removed from the list of individuals qualified to be appointed as an Attorney for the Minor Child (AMC) in a family case?
Pursuant to Practice Book Section 25-61A(b)(3), the Standing Committee on Guardians Ad Litem and Attorneys for the Minor Child in Family Matters has established a removal process by complaint by which an individual may be removed from the list. That process can be found here.

If a Complainant, as defined by the removal process document, believes that an AMC presents an imminent risk of significant harm to the health, safety, or welfare of the public, they may file a Complaint with the Standing Committee. There is no fee to file a complaint. The Complaint must be filed on form JD-FM-276, Complaint against Guardian Ad Litem/ Attorney for Minor Child.

NOTE: An AMC CANNOT be removed from an individual case through this process. See FAQ #6 in this section for information on how to ask the court to remove an AMC from an individual case.

Questions reguarding this process can be emailed to GALApprovedList@jud.ct.gov

The Complaint form, and instructions on how to complete and file it, can be found here.


9. Is there a Code of Conduct for AMC's?
Yes, there is a Code of Conduct for Attorney for the Minor Child and Guardian ad Litem, which is available on this website.

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