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Spousal Support in Connecticut

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 Stephen Lebedevitch | in Court Process | Comments Off on Spousal Support in Connecticut

Restraining and Protective Orders in Connecticut

Jul. 10th 2013

Sad couple having conflict

In Connecticut, there are two types of Restraining Orders:

A Temporary (ex parte) Restraining Order is a court order designed to provide you and your family members with immediate protection from your abuser. “Ex Parte” means that you can get the Order without your abuser present in court. If the judge grants you a Temporary Restraining Order, s/he will also schedule a hearing within 14 days. Your Temporary (ex parte) Restraining Order will protect you from the time you file for the Restraining Order until your full court hearing for a long-term Order can take place.

Your Temporary (ex parte) Restraining Order is in effect the day that it is signed. The accused abuser can be arrested if s/he disobeys the order after receiving notice of it.

Note: If you are in the middle of a divorce, the court may want to hear from the other side before giving a Restraining Order.

A Permanent Restraining Order can be issued only after a court hearing in which you and the abuser both have a chance to tell your sides of the story. It is designed to stop violent and harassing behavior and to protect you and your family from the abuser. It lasts up to six months, but can be extended.

Posted by Stephen Lebedevitch | in Connecticut Divorce 101, Court Process, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Restraining and Protective Orders in Connecticut

Automatic Orders in Connecticut Divorces

Jul. 3rd 2013

Two hands trying to divide house, isolated

One things that everyone facing or contemplating filing a divorce in Connecticut must understand is that the judge, after you file the divorce, will enter automatic orders in your case.  Many lawyers charge you for the filing of the paperwork associated with this – but the forms they use are used in every case!  All the lawyer needs to do is to change the name, and you wind up paying for the creation of these motions, so it is important that you find a lawyer who won’t charge for filing this paperwork.

In basic terms, the automatic orders keep you or your future ex-spouse from taking on an debt or selling any assets of the family until the court determines how the divorce is paid out.  This means that if you have a jointly owned house, you cannot list that house for sale – nor can you damage the house to drive down the value – while the divorce is pending.  This is one reason why it pays to be prepared for a divorce and get your financials in order before you file. The automatic orders set for that:

Neither the plaintiff or defendant shall:

1.  Sell, mortgage, or give away any property without written agreement or a court order.

2.  Go into unreasonable debt by borrowing money or using credit cards or cash advances.

3.  Permanently take your children from Connecticut without written agreement or a court order.

4.  Take each other or your children off of any existing medical, hospital, or dental insurance policy or let any such insurance coverage expire.

5.  Change the terms or named beneficiaries of any existing insurance policy or let any existing insurance coverage expire, including life, automobile, homeowner’s or renter’s insurance.

6.  Deny use of the family home to the other person without a court order, if you are living together on the date the court papers are served.

Both the plaintiff and the defendant shall:

1.  Complete and exchange sworn financial affidavits within thirty days of the return date.

2.  Participate in a parenting education program within sixty days of the return date (if you share children under 18 years old).

3.  Attend a case management conference on the date specified on the reverse, unless you both agree on all issues and file a Case Management Agreement form with the court clerk on or before that date.

4.  Tell the other person in writing within forty-eight hours about your new address or a place where you can receive mail if you move out of the family home (if you share children under 18 years old).

5.  Help any children you share continue their usual contact with both parents in person, by telephone and in writing.

These orders are court orders and you can be found in contempt of court for not following them.

Posted by Stephen Lebedevitch | in Connecticut Divorce 101, Court Process, Defendant, Plaintiff | Comments Off on Automatic Orders in Connecticut Divorces

Contested Divorce v. Uncontested Divorce v. Limited Contested Divorce in Connecticut

Jun. 26th 2013

Couple Fighting

A fully contested divorce may include disputes over custody, visitation, property division and family support. The contest may be over one, several or all issues. The parties may engage in discovery over financial issues or even with respect to their parenting abilities and personal histories. If custody or visitation is disputed, studies may be conducted by court officers and/or private experts retained by each party. If finances are in dispute, expert appraisers and forensic accountants may be engaged by each party. Multiple court hearings, with both lawyers “on the clock”, may take place on matters such as temporary custody, visitation, alimony and child support. Depositions are often taken of both parties and other persons relevant to the litigation. Finally, a contested trial takes place with witnesses and experts testifying, leading to a decision on the contested issues by a Judge.

An uncontested divorce is one in which all issues have been agreed upon by the parties. The parties reduce their agreement to writing and it is presented to a Judge at the final hearing. An uncontested divorce can be achieved by the parties working on their own or through mediators and collaborative lawyers as well as lawyers working in the traditional context. Oftentimes, cases which are contested on one or more issues end up being uncontested when the parties settle after a period of adversarial litigation. In fact, the vast majority of divorce cases are settled by agreement. But what occurs in the course of litigation prior to the settlement can be damaging to the family relationships and resources.

Connecticut adjudicates limited contested divorces when the only issues under dispute are financial and division of property. After a case management conference, the judge will counsel and issue orders.

Posted by Stephen Lebedevitch | in Connecticut Divorce 101, Court Process, Defendant, Plaintiff | Comments Off on Contested Divorce v. Uncontested Divorce v. Limited Contested Divorce in Connecticut

Connecticut Collaborative Divorce

Jun. 19th 2013

 

Meeting

Divorce is a very stressful, time consuming, and emotional process. When factoring in court appearances and missed time from work, the stress only builds. Collaborative divorce is a way to avoid adversary proceedings and work towards a fair and amicable resolution without the use of the courtroom. In fact, during a collaborative divorce, both parties and their respective attorneys sign an agreement stating that they will not resort to courtroom litigation throughout the entire collaborative process. If the parties do decide to enter the courtroom, the collaborative divorce process terminates and the divorce continues in court.

Collaborative divorce is not for all divorcing parties, and is beneficial to those who believe they can work together through an amicable process and not use adversary means. When entering into this process, both parties and their respective attorneys are agreeing that they will work together, freely exchange information, and focus on what is mutually beneficial. Though your attorney represents your interests, the two attorneys have the responsibility of working as a team, placing the family itself in the forefront.

Our attorneys who handle collaborative divorce matters are trained in the area of creative problem solving with both party’s aim at an end result that will be most beneficial for both parties involved. Many times additional professionals are brought in, such as appraisers, accountants, or counselors. Remember, if the process does end up in court, the attorney-client relationship you had with your attorney will end. The attorneys who enter into the contract for collaborative divorce process with you are not allowed to represent your interests in court. A new attorney will be necessary for the handling of courtroom issues.  If collaborative divorce sounds right for your case, you can contact us here and we can begin the process of helping you with your Connecticut Collaborative Divorce.

Posted by Stephen Lebedevitch | in Collaborative Divorce, Connecticut Divorce 101, Court Process | Comments Off on Connecticut Collaborative Divorce

No Fault Divorce in Connecticut

Jun. 5th 2013

Connecticut law does not require “fault” be found in order to order a divorce of the parties.  This means that the defendant must not have “done something” to cause the end of the marriage.  Of course, there are reasons for ordering a divorce which may be one person’s fault, but those will be addressed in a future post.

“The determination of whether a breakdown of a marriage is irretrievable is a question of fact to be determined by the trial court.” Eversman v. Eversman, 4 Conn. App. 611, 614, 496 A.2d 210 (1985).

This means it is a requirement of the plaintiff to put on a prima facie case in your divorce proceeding. This is typically done by your attorney who will ask you a series of questions on direct examination which result in the judge being able to determine that the marriage has broken down.

For no fault cases,  “A decree of dissolution of a marriage . . . shall be granted upon a finding that one of the following causes has occurred: (1) the marriage has broken down irretrievably; (2) the parties have lived apart by reason of incompatibility for a continuous period of at least the eighteen months immediately prior to the service of the complaint and that there is no reasonable prospect that they will be reconciled . . . .” Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46b-40(c)(2008).

Further:  “Incompatibility of personalities is not and has never been a ground for divorce in Connecticut. Under our law, married persons are expected to accept the ordinary vicissitudes of marriage caused by unwise mating, unhappy situations, unruly tempers and common quarrels or marital wranglings.” Nowak v. Nowak, 23 Conn. Sup. 495, 497, 185 A.2d 83 (1962).

“The absence of objective guidelines does not mean an abdication of judicial function, nor does it signal, as the defendant argues, that a court determining whether a marriage has in fact irretrievably broken down is acting purely ministerially or is granting a divorce ‘upon demand.’ It does, however, sustain the trial court’s conclusion that the defendant’s decision to rearrange his business ventures after the initiation of divorce proceedings does not necessarily repair the rupture in the marital relationship that had previously occurred.” Joy v. Joy, 178 Conn. 254, 255-256, 423 A.2d 895 (1979).

Irretrievable breakdown:  “In 1973, by No. 73-373 of the 1973 Public Acts (P.A. 73-373), the legislature effected an historic revision of our marital dissolution statutes. That legislation introduced certain new concepts to our family law, such as the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage as a ground for dissolution.” Doe v. Doe, 244 Conn. 403, 433, 710 A.2d 1297 (1998).

Posted by Stephen Lebedevitch | in Connecticut Divorce 101, Court Process, Plaintiff | Comments Off on No Fault Divorce in Connecticut