THE PATHWAYS PROCESS
IN YOUR DIVORCE, CUSTODY OR VISITATION CASE
During 2021, Connecticut transitioned to a new process for family cases, including custody, visitation, dissolution of marriage, and legal separation cases. Entitled “Pathways,” the process seeks to give each case the level of court resources it needs, and to reduce the number of necessary court appearances by setting a schedule at an early point in each case. The process is also designed to better assist parties who want to try to resolve their cases by agreement, rather than engage in lengthy litigation.
One feature of Pathways is the early scheduling of a court event called the Resolution Plan Date (RPD). Scheduling RPDs as intended was difficult to do in 2021 for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic, as the court had to rely primarily on remote proceedings. However, the increased use of in-person proceedings near the end of 2021 allowed many more RPDs to be scheduled in one day than was possible for remote proceedings. As the movement to more in-person events continues, in 2022 the Judicial Branch plans to implement Pathways according to the scheduling guidelines originally designed for the process. The following is a description of the Pathways process and its typical scheduling parameters to be followed in 2022, barring any complications caused by adverse COVID-19 developments.
The Resolution Plan Date
After your case has been filed, it will be scheduled for a “Resolution Plan Date.” If your case involves financial issues like child support, alimony, or dividing marital property, you should complete and file a Financial Affidavit before your Resolution Plan Date (RPD). Forms and instructions for financial affidavits may be found on the Family Forms Page. The courts began conducting RPDs in person at the courthouses during the latter part of 2021, and plan to continue to do so in 2022.
On the RPD, you will learn how the court process works and have an opportunity to ask questions. A Family Relations Counselor, who is an employee of the court trained in family matters, will review your case with you and the other party (and your attorneys, if you have them) to identify:
- the areas where you agree and disagree,
- how likely you are to reach an agreement on any disputed issues, and
- the kind of help you need to resolve your case as a whole.
The Family Relations Counselor will then recommend an action plan to the court based on the level of help your case needs to come to a conclusion. The plan will include any recommended services to support your resolution of the outstanding issues. Possible services include information-gathering or evaluations by Family Services, mediation with a Family Relations Counselor, the appointment of a guardian ad litem for minor children, court hearing time, or the assignment of a designated Family Relations Counselor or judge to your case for its duration. 2
The Counselor will also recommend one of three “tracks” for the purpose of future scheduling and services in your case. Track A is intended for cases that require the lowest level of court time and resources, including cases that are fully resolved on the RPD.
- Track B is for cases that are expected to require a moderate level of court time and resources.
- Track C is designed for cases where there are disputes about major issues that are expected to require the highest level of judicial time and resources.
After you meet with a Family Relations Counselor, a judge will make a scheduling order that fits the action plan, including assigning the case to a track, scheduling future court dates, and specifying what you are expected to do in between them. The Resolution Plan Date is not the time for a contested hearing or trial before a judge. However, if you agree on all of the issues in your case, a judge may be able to hear your case that day and approve your agreement, finishing the case. You may also appear before a judge that day to address issues about future scheduling or whether certain services are appropriate in your case.
If you are the plaintiff or applicant and you do not appear for your Resolution Plan Date, your case may be dismissed. If you are the defendant or the respondent and you do not appear, court orders or a final judgment may be entered against you.
|The date for your RPD will depend on the type of case, and whether it is a new action (like a complaint for dissolution of marriage) or a postjudgment matter (like a motion to modify a prior divorce or custody judgment). The following table illustrates the expected time frames for scheduling Resolution Plan Dates in various situations. Scheduling Resolution Plan Dates – Effective January 1, 2022|
|For this type of case (new filings)||The Resolution Plan Date should be set for|
|Custody/Visitation Cases||No more than 30 days after the filing of the application.|
|Dissolution of Marriage Dissolution of Civil Union Legal Separation||Within 30 to 45 days after the return date.|
|Postjudgment Motions||Between 21 and 30 days after filing.|