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Help! I’ve Just been served with Divorce papers!

Monday, Sep. 19th 2016

Sometimes it is expected, and sometimes it comes out of nowhere – but being served with divorce papers means that the process is starting.  Even if you knew it was coming, getting papers in hand can set up a range of emotions.  Our job is to help get you through this troubling time.  If you just got served with divorce papers, read on to see what to do next:

1.    Hire a lawyer.  Divorces, even the ones which everyone seems to agree at the outset, can get messy.  Emotions run high, and a lawyer can give you the unbiased and unemotional advice you desperately need in this time.  Even family members have a vested interest in your life, and may not be able to give you the truth as is necessary in a civil case

2.   If you have been served with papers YOU DO NOT NEED TO APPEAR IN COURT ON THE RETURN DATE!  The return date is the date that your spouse’s attorney must file the executed complaint with the court.  This allows the court to give the case a docket number and start the process.

3. Review the complaint and any motions you might also get.  The court has automatic orders that apply in all divorce cases.  You should be aware of them because it impacts financial decisions you might make.  Don’t violate the automatic orders or you run the risk of penalty.

4.   Pendente Lite Motions. After the return date, your attorney can advocate for your best interests by filing requests with the court. These requests may be resolved by agreement or may require a hearing in front of the Judge. Such requests can be for alimony, bill payments, child custody, visitation, or other matters that should be addressed right away. Such Orders last for the period of the divorce proceedings until final judgment.

5.     Financial Affidavit. A financial affidavit is a very important document that must be sworn to after it is properly filled out. Your attorney will work with you to make sure it is as accurate as possible prior to handing it into the court. Start compiling your financial information by printing credit card statements, bank statements and investment account statements so you have hard copies on hand.

6.     Case Management Date. Upon filing your complaint with the Court, your attorney will receive a case management date. This date indicates when the 90 day period ends. There are certain documents that the court must receive by this date, however after this date a final judgment of divorce can be entered.

7.     Keep your Attorney updated! It is very important to notify your attorney if there are any changes that occur in your life. Attorneys like to stay current with how situations are working out and what things are not working in order to better determine what will meet your needs.

Have more questions?  Give me a call at 203-925-9200 and we can discuss your situation.

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Attorney Stephen Lebedevitch

Posted by Zachary Reiland | in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Spousal Support in Connecticut

Tuesday, Sep. 2nd 2014

Couple crisis

Spousal support, better known as alimony, is separate from child support and occurs when one spouse makes money payments to the other spouse for support. This means that, although the two parties are divorced or in the process of getting a divorce, they are still connected financially. Alimony can be awarded during divorce proceedings, as well as for some time after the divorce becomes final. A spouse can either pay alimony in a lump sum or, more commonly, periodically (monthly, biweekly, weekly).

According to the Connecticut General Statutes §46b-82(a), a court may award alimony to either party in the divorce but is under no obligation to do so. In Connecticut, the judge has discretion in deciding how much alimony to award. The court uses the following factors in determining whether to award alimony: (1) Length of the marriage, (2) Causes of divorce, (3) Age of the parties, (4) Health of the parties, (5) Location of the parties, (6) Occupation of the parties, (8) Earning capacity, skills, education and employability of the parties, (9) Estates of the parties, (10) Needs of the parties, (11) Division of property, (12) Child support award benefitting either spouse, and (13) Whether it is desirable for the children that a custodial parent secure employment.

In Connecticut, a judge can award temporary alimony, which is also called alimony “pendente lite.” Temporary alimony can be awarded during divorce proceedings and/or after the divorce is final. The judge will take the above factors into consideration when deciding how long temporary alimony should be awarded for and the amount of alimony.

A Connecticut court can also award permanent alimony. These days, permanent alimony is becoming rarer as alimony is increasingly viewed as compensation until the ex-spouse can get back on his or her feet and find employment. When considering awarding permanent alimony, the court will look to the causes of divorce.

The court can modify an alimony award, unless a couple agrees otherwise. For example, a court might change an alimony award if one of the former spouses shows a great change in circumstances. If either former spouse dies, or the alimony recipient remarries, payments end. In Connecticut, the court can end or reduce alimony payments if the recipient is living with another adult and the paying party shows that this living arrangement has altered the recipient’s need for alimony.

This post is meant to be a primer on spousal support in the state of Connecticut. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

Posted by Peter McGuinness | in Court Process | Comments Off on Spousal Support in Connecticut

Different Types of Child Custody in Connecticut

Tuesday, Aug. 26th 2014

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If you are divorcing your spouse and have children together, you probably have many questions regarding child custody. There are two types of custody that a divorced parent can have over his or her child – legal custody and physical custody. It is important to understand that legal custody is not the same as physical custody. Legal custody refers to a parent’s right to make decisions about his or her child. On the other hand, physical custody refers to a parent’s right to have a child live with him or her. I will explore the different types of legal and physical custody that a Connecticut court may award a parent.

Oftentimes divorced parents will have joint legal custody of shared children. This means that, although no longer married, both parents will share the responsibility of raising shared children. Specifically, both parents have the right to make legal decisions pertaining to their children’s health, education, religion and activities. Joint legal custody is an attractive option if you and your ex-spouse get along and can communicate well. In Connecticut courts, joint legal custody is the default legal custody arrangement. Even so, you should carefully consider whether this option would work for you and your ex-spouse before agreeing on joint legal custody.

A court can also award sole legal custody to one of the parents. This typically happens only when one parent is abusive or clearly unfit to make sound legal decisions regarding their child. This is another option to be explored if you are divorcing your spouse and have children together.

There are also several kinds of physical custody that the court can award – sole custody, primary custody to one of the parents or shared physical custody. Having sole physical custody over your child means that your child lives with you full-time. A court can order visitation to the non-custodial parent, though. Courts will award sole physical custody to one of the parents if the other is unfit, abusive or neglectful. Additionally, a judge may grant sole physical custody to one parent if the other is an alcoholic or drug dependent. Generally, though, courts try to avoid granting a parent sole physical custody. Connecticut courts can also grant primary physical custody to either of the parents. When this occurs, the child lives primarily with the custodial parent and has visitation with the non-custodial parent. Shared (or joint) physical custody is another option that you should explore. A court may order this type of physical custody when the child spends a great deal of time with both of his or her parents and the parents live close to each other.

Each divorce and child custody case is different. For this reason, you should contact a Connecticut divorce lawyer to explain the options available in your situation.

Posted by Peter McGuinness | in Child Custody | Comments Off on Different Types of Child Custody in Connecticut

3 Steps for Helping Your Kids Through Divorce

Tuesday, Aug. 19th 2014

Happy father and son

Divorcing a spouse represents an abrupt change in your lifestyle and daily routines. During this transition in your life, it is important to remember that this experience is equally difficult for your child to go through. As a divorce attorney, my clients frequently come to me for advice on how they can help their children through divorce. Due to these inquiries, I have created this post with some helpful tips.

  1. Be Sensitive, Understanding, and Patient

For your child, the notion that his or her parents are going through or have gotten a divorce is both sad and scary.  You’re not the only one going through a difficult time. A child’s life changes drastically when his or her parents divorce. Your child might express anger – even at you – and may lash out at other children in school. Instead of punishing your child, be rational with him or her. Explain to him or her that you understand their frustration because you are experiencing it as well. But make sure they also understand that they shouldn’t lash out at others because of it.

Above all, you must be patient with your child after going through a divorce. Just as you and your ex-spouse will take time to heal and move on from a divorce, your child also needs time to do so. Don’t jump to conclusions that something is wrong with your child simply because he or she suddenly seems angry or depressed. It is totally normal for a child to be angry or depressed after their parents go through a divorce. However, if the problem persists, you may want to have him or her talk to a therapist. Your child just might need to vent to someone other than you or your ex-spouse.

  1. Don’t Blame Them and Don’t Point Fingers

Far too often, a child will think that he or she was the cause of, or at least contributed to, his or her parent’s divorce. Be sure to make it clear to your child that he or she is not to blame for your divorce in any way – that this was a decision you and your ex-spouse came to for reasons unrelated to them.

It is also critical for you not to lay the blame on your ex-spouse for your divorce. In fact, you shouldn’t be saying any bad things about your ex-spouse in front of your children at all. It is important that your child doesn’t feel like he or she needs to pick sides, no matter how rough of a divorce it was. In the long run, you will want your child to love, respect and have a healthy relationship with your ex-spouse.

  1. Be Honest and Open

Be honest and upfront with your child about the divorce. His or her life is going to change drastically, and you owe it to your child to explain everything to them. Further, don’t give them any sense of false hope that you and your ex-spouse may eventually get back together. As a parent, making promises you can’t keep is never a good thing, especially in the context of divorce.

Make sure to let your child know that you are there for them – to answer any questions they may have, or just to listen to their concerns and feelings about the divorce. It is important to provide your child with an open, judgment-free environment during this difficult time.

For more information on how to help your child through a divorce, or for help through your divorce process, you can contact me here.

Posted by Peter McGuinness | in Post Divorce | Comments Off on 3 Steps for Helping Your Kids Through Divorce

How to Get a Job After Divorce

Tuesday, Aug. 12th 2014

Returning to the Work Force

After getting a divorce, you may find that you need to go back to work or take on a second job to support yourself. Returning to the work force after years, or even decades, of absence can be intimidating. Take a deep breath and be confident in your abilities.

If you decide to go back to work, don’t just look for jobs that you’ve had past experience in. Due to the difficult job market, it is harmful to limit your job search in this way. Also, be sure to spread the word to family, friends, former employers and former co-workers that you are on the hunt for a job. Networking is often the most efficient way to find a job.

Resume

Essential to your job search will be your resume. Make sure that you update your resume or create a new one if yours is outdated. Your resume should include any experience you have had that you think potential employers would want to know about. If you’ve been a stay-at-home mom for years, any volunteer work or fundraising you may have done is still relevant and should be included in your resume. Make sure that your resume is polished and professional. Have a second set of eyes look over your resume for any spelling or grammatical errors.

Going Back to School

As a result of your divorce, you may even consider the possibility of going back to school. With so many Americans looking for jobs, the proper level of education is critical to set you apart from other applicants.

Chances are you have at least graduated from high school. If you haven’t, it is essential to get your GED. A GED – which stands for General Education Development examination – is the equivalent of a high school diploma for adults. Without a high school diploma or GED, it is not likely that you will find any stable kind of work.

Aside from having a high school degree or the GED equivalent, a Bachelor’s Degree is also crucial to finding a job in today’s market. If you have just gone through a divorce and are planning on re-entering the work force, you need to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree if you don’t already have one. Luckily, there are many flexible programs available today to earn your Bachelor’s Degree. You can enroll as a part-time or full-time student, and many universities offer online and night class options. Community colleges are less expensive alternatives and many offer four-year programs to earn your degree.

If you already have a Bachelor’s Degree, going back to school for a Master’s Degree can increase your earning potential and open up many new career opportunities for you. You should consider obtaining a Master’s Degree, if possible.

These are all ways to make yourself more marketable if you feel that you need to get a job after your divorce. If you are concerned about paying your bills or paying for school before you have a job, consider asking a judge to grant rehabilitative alimony. This can help you get back on your feet after a divorce. For more information about rehabilitative alimony or other ways to get a job after divorce, you can contact me here.

Posted by Peter McGuinness | in Post Divorce | Comments Off on How to Get a Job After Divorce

Top 4 Strategies for Moving on After Divorce

Monday, Aug. 4th 2014

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There’s no doubt about it – divorce is hard. It’s hard whether it was your spouse who wanted the divorce or if it was you who wanted it. And it’s hard whether or not you feel like you’re better off after getting a divorce. As divorce rates in the United State are on the rise, everyone seems to have their own theory about how to move on after divorce. This post explores strategies for moving on after divorce.

  1. Allow Yourself Time to Mourn

Divorce represents a loss. As such, you aren’t expected to heal from it overnight. Everyone grieves at his or her own pace, and it is important to allow yourself ample time to mourn your divorce. Most likely, there are still aspects of your previous marriage that frustrate, sadden or even confuse you. It is always a great idea to talk out these kinds of feelings, especially in the context of divorce. Reach out to family and friends who will listen to you. If you don’t have family or friends willing to help, or if talking to them isn’t sufficient, contact a therapist. Talking to a therapist doesn’t mean you have a problem nor does it show any signs of weakness. It simply means that you seek to mourn your recent divorce in a healthy, judgment-free environment. Above all, remember that if you don’t mourn the loss of your marriage the pent-up feelings you have will never really go away.

  1. Don’t Be Hard on Yourself

It’s easy to blame yourself for your marriage not working out. But, refrain from doing so. Your marriage is over and pointing fingers – especially at yourself – won’t do any good. You’re human and humans make mistakes. For example, if you cheated during your marriage don’t continue to beat yourself up over it. You did what you did for a reason. Look at it now as an opportunity to discover what was missing from your relationship that led you to stray. Work on building your confidence back up. Believe in yourself and your ability to work past this rough patch in your life.

3. Discover and Rediscover

You’ve probably heard that, after going through a divorce, it is important to discover something new that you enjoy doing – whether it be picking up a new hobby, visiting a new place, etc. But, equally as important is rediscovery. This concept refers to rediscovering things you might have given up due to marriage. It could be as simple as this: although you always enjoyed going to the beach, you stopped once you got married because your husband didn’t like the beach. Start doing the things you used to enjoy once again. Embrace your newly found independence. Discover and rediscover what it is that makes you truly happy.

4. Don’t Fear Being on Your Own

Oftentimes, when a couple gets divorced, each person finds himself or herself having to handle tasks that they never had to before. For example, maybe during your marriage it wasn’t your responsibility to make sure the bills were paid on time or maybe it wasn’t your responsibility to do the cooking. Now that you are no longer married though, you will have to learn to do all household tasks and responsibilities.

It’s also important to keep in mind that being “on your own” isn’t the same as being “alone.” Although you’re no longer married, you likely still have children, family members or friends there to support you. Don’t be hesitant to ask them for help or advice if you need it. There are also many support groups out there for people that are going through, or have recently gone through, a divorce. Make sure to still go out and do things, and see the people you enjoy being around.

Posted by Peter McGuinness | in Post Divorce | Comments Off on Top 4 Strategies for Moving on After Divorce

Dividing Debt in Connecticut Divorce

Monday, Sep. 23rd 2013

purse in hand

Filing for divorce will not solve any debt issues that you and your spouse have. This is because debt is divided between the spouses in a divorce.  You and your spouse will share the responsibility for any debts that you accumulated over the course of your marriage. This includes joint loans, joint tax returns, or anything else that you and your spouse signed together.  These debts will be considered joint debt and will be divided between you accordingly. However, it is important to keep in mind that not all debt is joint debt. Any debts that belonged to one spouse before the marriage took place will be considered individual debt, not joint debt.  Some of the biggest debts that you and your spouse have accumulated, such as mortgages and credit card debt, may concern you and your spouse.  However, many judges will try to be as accommodating with the division of debt as possible.

Depending upon the state that you live in, communal debts might not be divided equally, however, a judge will always try to make the division of the debt fair. A few states have adopted communal property laws, in which all assets and debts accumulated during the marriage are split 50-50, regardless of financial standings.  However, Connecticut is not a state that abides by communal property laws. In the Connecticut court system, judges consider who is in a better position to pay the debt. As a result, one spouse may be paying more money than another. Regardless, both spouses will most likely pay at least some of the debt, and it is important to keep track of the money that you owe and pay towards joint debts.

As soon as you realize that your marriage is ending, you should cancel any joint credit cards that you and your spouse have so that the balance does not increase. At this point, you want to begin building individual credit by obtaining credit cards apart from your spouse. It is important to do this because the credit that you accumulated while you were married might not be applicable to you once you are divorced. If you had a lot of joint accounts, this might be the case. As a result, you might have to reapply for credit individually and can deny or extend your credit on that individual basis.  In some cases, this will be a blessing (for instance, if you and your spouse accumulated a lot of debt together). However, if you had a good credit score and worked hard to maintain it during your marriage, it can be devastating to find yourself starting over.

Joint debt will be divided in a similar way that joint assets are divided in a divorce. Both parties will receive a fair amount of assets and debt given their individual financial standings. If you or your spouse has individual debt, you will each be responsible for this debt at the end of the divorce. If you are unsure of the joint debt that you and your spouse have, or how it will be divided in court, a divorce lawyer can help answer these questions. You can contact me here for advice or if you are looking for legal representation.

Posted by Peter McGuinness | in Connecticut Divorce 101 | Comments Off on Dividing Debt in Connecticut Divorce

Dividing Assets in Connecticut Divorce

Wednesday, Sep. 18th 2013

Two hands trying to divide house, isolated

Divorce brings with it many decisions that you probably thought you would never have to face. One such difficult decision is how to fairly divide the assets that you and your spouse have acquired over the course of your relationship. In cases where the couple was not married for a long period of time, this can be fairly easy. However, for marriages in which many assets were accumulated over a long period of time, the task of dividing everything up can be daunting. It is important to keep in mind that there are several ways to go about dividing assets. The process does not have to be as painful as it seems.

If possible, you should consider dividing your assets with your spouse outside of court. If you and your spouse face a fairly amicable divorce, and you think that you can sort through your property on your own, this could save a lot of time, money, and stress. If you decide to take your case to court, a judge will make the final decision in regards to who is entitled to what. Keeping the negotiation out of court can give you more power over what you keep because the decisions will be made between you and your spouse, and you won’t have the legally binding input of a judge.

You can settle your divorce outside of court on your own or with the help of a third party, such as a mediator.  Mediators are meant to help a couple reach a compromise concerning what they want and don’t want in the divorce.  The mediator is an unbiased third party who listens to the desires of both spouses. After considering the interests of both parties, a mediator will propose an agreement on how to split up assets and debt.  If the agreement is satisfactory to both parties, they can sign the agreement and it will go into effect.

However, if it is not possible to divide the assets amongst yourselves, you can go to court and a judge will decide who keeps what using state law rules in order to divide the property.  In court, your assets will be divided based on equitable distribution, meaning that the assets will be divided in a way that the judge deems fair. This does not necessarily mean that your assets will be divided equally. If one spouse has a better financial standing than the other, this will be taken into account when considering the “fairest” distribution. Marital property is the only property that will be considered for equitable distribution.  Marital property includes all assets and earnings accumulated over the course of the marriage. Separate property, on the other hand, includes all personal property obtained before the marriage took place as well as inheritance or gifts given to one spouse.

If you need help dividing your assets in divorce, you should contact an experienced divorce attorney in Connecticut. Whether you decide to divide your assets in or outside of court, a divorce lawyer can help ensure that you get the assets that you are entitled to.

Posted by Peter McGuinness | in Connecticut Divorce 101 | Comments Off on Dividing Assets in Connecticut Divorce

Does Cheating Matter?

Monday, Sep. 16th 2013

Couple Fighting

In some cases, people decide to file for divorce due to a reason recognized by the state, also known as grounds for divorce. While states such as Connecticut accept no-fault divorces, in which neither spouse takes responsibility for the causes of the divorce, grounds for divorce are still called upon if one spouse can prove in court that the other spouse is responsible for reasons that led to the dissolution of the marriage. Grounds for divorce include cruelty, desertion, and adultery. Many people who are considering filing for divorce wonder how their partner’s infidelity will affect the divorce case. Many spouses see cheating as the ultimate betrayal, and want the court system to punish cheating spouses for breaking the marital bond.

In the past, adultery was a more serious matter than it is today. If one spouse could prove that the other committed adultery in court, the cheating spouse would be at-fault for the breakdown of the marriage. Fault for a divorce played a role in the awarding of support or alimony and who received assets and property from the marital estate.  Today, the existence of adultery doesn’t impact a case as much as it used to. It is not a judge’s job to condemn a cheating spouse for his or her moral transgression. While a judge may feel sympathy for the spouse who was cheated on, a judge cannot let those feelings guide the resolution of the case. In addition, committing adultery does not automatically make a spouse a bad parent, meaning that even if your spouse cheats on you, there is no guarantee that you will receive full custody of your children. In fashioning a settlement or decision, the court looks to the equities involved. A judge will consider who contributed what to the family, and how the result should be divided in a fair manner.

Learning that your spouse has cheated on you can be devastating. You might find yourself in personal turmoil, wondering how you will recover from this betrayal. However, in a Connecticut divorce, cheating will not influence the case as much as it did in the past. You will probably have much more compelling legal arguments to make in court. A smart divorce lawyer considers all avenues, sometimes pursuing adultery as a cause for legal tactical advantages, sometimes pursuing more compelling arguments.  If you are dealing with a cheating spouse and you feel that divorce is eminent, you should contact us to see how it will impact your case.  Every case is different, and no universal standard applies, so it is in your best interest to contact us for help with your personal case.

Posted by Peter McGuinness | in Connecticut Divorce 101, Grounds for Divorce | Comments Off on Does Cheating Matter?

Pendente Lite Motions

Wednesday, Sep. 11th 2013

After the return date, the divorce process will begin. Your attorney can advocate for your best interests by filling out forms and filing requests with the court. Court orders are meant to protect you and your interests during the divorce process. In some cases, these requests may be resolved by agreement, however in some cases, they may require a hearing in front of the judge. Whether the court orders are resolved inside or outside of court, it is in your best interest to hire an experienced Connecticut divorce lawyer to help you through the process.

Any pending court case could have pendente lite motions involved (as “pendente lite” means “pending litigation” in Latin). Pendente lite motions are commonly included in divorce cases. A lawyer can help you file pendente lite motions if this is deemed necessary during the process of your divorce. These requests can include alimony, child custody, bill payments, visitation, or other matters that should be addressed immediately. These court orders last for the period of the divorce proceedings until final judgment. These motions are considered standard pendente lite motions for divorce cases. Every divorce attorney should know how to file these motions.  Many attorneys will customize pendente lite motions to fit your case if your case contains special circumstances.

When most people are served with divorce papers, they are also served with pendente lite motions. This can be overwhelming and confusing. The most important thing is to remember not to panic. You will have time to consult with a divorce attorney and make the right decision for you. If you have been served with pendente lite motions, or if you want to file these motions, you will need the assistance of an experienced Connecticut divorce lawyer. You can click here for a free consultation with me if you have further questions.

Posted by Peter McGuinness | in Connecticut Divorce 101 | Comments Off on Pendente Lite Motions