Families Change
Parent Guide to Separation & Divorce

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Connecticut’s Courts

There is a lot of useful information on the Connecticut Judicial Branch website.

Child Support Services

Connecticut Support Enforcement Services (SES) - sometimes called the Bureau of Child Support Enforcement - is the state agency that makes policy and oversees the child support services for the state. They establish and enforce child support orders made by the courts.  

The SES office is where you can get help to

  • open a new child support case,
  • establish who the parents of a child are,
  • find parents so they can pay child support,
  • request medical support orders from the court,
  • enforce child support orders, and
  • modify child support orders.

The SES office CANNOT help you with

  • divorce,
  • custody,
  • visitation,
  • restraining orders,
  • establishing support orders for a partner or spouse, or 
  • enforcing support orders that are not included with child support.

Either parent who needs help with establishing paternity or establishing or enforcing a child support order can ask SES for help. They can help people whether or not they receive public assistance.
Learn more about the Department of Child Support Services and find your local child support agency.

  • Parents have the right to get advice from a private lawyer or legal aid group at any time.

Volunteer Attorney Program

There are free clinics in Hartford, Waterbury, and Stamford. If you are not represented by an attorney and need legal help, you can go to a clinic and talk to a volunteer attorney for information about

  • divorce,
  • custody,
  • child support,
  • motions for contempt,
  • paternity, and
  • grandparents’ rights.

Volunteer attorneys at the clinics are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Appointments are not accepted.

  • There are no income qualifications.
  • You can get help before, during, or after a lawsuit.
  • You can get help at any one of the three courthouse locations in Connecticut (see schedule).

Family Services in the Family Civil Court

Family Services professionals can help you make important decisions about your children and parenting when you are going through a separation or divorce and cannot work things out yourselves. Family Services is sometimes called Family Relations.  Their counselors can help you with

  • making agreements with the other parent about child custody and visitation,
  • putting agreements into writing that will go to the court, and
  • information about the required Parenting Education Program.

In-Person Help

You can visit any of the Court Service Centers or Law Libraries for help with your questions in person. 

Legal Aid in Connecticut

CTLawHelp.org is a website that provides free legal information to people with low income who have legal problems in Connecticut. 

Where can you get more help?

You and your children don’t need to go through this alone. It may help to talk to friends and family as you transition to your new family life. There are trained and dedicated professionals and volunteers who can help you and your children. To find out about what’s available in your community, try

  • asking your family doctor,
  • calling 2-1-1 or going to www.211ct.org, or
  • talking to a counselor at your child’s school.

National Domestic Violence Helpline

If you are concerned about domestic or family violence, you can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE or the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence at 888-774-2900.

Books and Guides

Reading books about divorce and separation to your young children will help them see that they’re not alone. You may also find that the books spark conversations that can help you answer questions and provide reassurance. Here is a list of publications that may help you deal with your family breakup. You can find more online or at your local bookstore.