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Connecticut Family Law: An Overview

Since family matters are often complicated by strong emotions and irrational behavior, Connecticut enforces its own family laws to ensure that every family member’s rights are protected. These laws also offer guidance toward equitable resolutions for divorce matters, including property division and child custody.

If you have a family law case in Bridgeport, Stamford, New Haven or elsewhere in Connecticut, LawInfo is your source for information and legal help. LawInfo’s Connecticut Family Law section includes legal overviews, summaries of state laws and other resources to help you make the right decisions for you and your family.

If you need help navigating the complex laws governing your case, a Connecticut family law attorney can help and treat your case with the sensitivity it deserves.

Connecticut Adoption Laws

Adoption is not a simple process in Connecticut. Certain conditions must be met before a child is available for adoption and, in most cases, the adopting parents are subject to screening and research.

A minor (under 18 years of age) must first be considered “free for adoption.” This means that both of the minor’s biological parents have either died or terminated their parental rights. In the case of permanent guardianship—which is when a relative adopts the minor—only one biological parent must have their parental rights terminated.

Only adults over 21 years of age may adopt. Single parents, LGBT individuals and same-sex couples may legally adopt as well. Only a statutory parent (such as an adoption agency), a biological parent, or a permanent guardian may “give” a minor in adoption.

Most adopting parents are required to undergo investigation after filing an adoption petition. The investigation is conducted by either the Department of Children and Families or a private licensed adoption agency (paid for by the adopting parents). Once the investigation is completed, a Connecticut Probate Court will review the report and determine whether to approve the adoption.

Connecticut Family Violence Protections

Connecticut offers victims of family violence (also known as domestic violence) three types of protection:

  • Restraining Orders—These tell an abusive family member to cease their violent actions, harassment and threats towards the victim(s), including minor children and the victim’s pets. It also restricts the offender from entering the victim’s residence. These are civil orders, meaning that the offender hasn’t been charged with family violence offenses. A restraining order may stay in effect for up to one year with the possibility of extension.
  • Protective Orders—These function similarly to restraining orders but are issued when the offender has been arrested on family violence charges. A protective order stays in effect until a criminal lawsuit is completed or the court changes the order into a standing criminal protective order.
  • Standing Criminal Protective Orders—These function similarly to protective orders but are issued by the court after the offender has been convicted of their family violence crimes. These orders stay in effect for however long the court decides or until it decides to change or revoke the order.

Connecticut Marriage Licenses

Prior to getting married, you and your partner will need to obtain an official Connecticut marriage license from a local vital records office. The license confirms that you both meet Connecticut’s legal requirements for marriage, which state that each partner:

  • Is 18 years or older.
  • Obtained written parental or guardian consent for marriage if 16 or 17 years old.
  • Obtained written consent from a probate court judge if under 16 years of age.
  • Is not currently in a legal relationship with a third party, including marriage and civil unions.
  • Is not related by family to the other person. Marriage between siblings, parents and children, uncles/aunts and nieces/nephews, grandparents and grandchildren or stepparents and stepchildren are prohibited.

Both partners must appear before a registrar in person to apply for and obtain the license. Once you obtain the license, you have 65 days to perform your marriage ceremony before the license expires.

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