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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

Fault for Divorce in Connecticut

Jun. 12th 2013

Divorce in Connecticut - LadyDivorce.com

Of  course, just because there are reasons for a “no fault” divorce does not mean that you cannot claim fault in seeking a divorce in Connecticut.  Your lawyer will go over the strategy for this and combined you will eventually make a determination which allegations to put in the complaint.  One of the main reasons why an attorney will counsel you to NOT put in a fault reason is that the burden is on the Plaintiff to prove the case in court, so if you allege that there has been a fault reason, like adultery, you must prove it to the judge.  Because that must be done in open court, it may not be worth it to hear all the sordid details at your divorce hearing.  There are other reasons for fault divorce.  The law provides for the following fault grounds:  “A decree of dissolution of a marriage . . . shall be granted upon a finding that one of the following causes has occurred. . .(3) adultery; (4) fraudulent contract; (5) wilful desertion for one year with total neglect of duty; (6) seven years’ absence, during all of which period the absent party has not been heard from; (7) habitual intemperance; (8) intolerable cruelty; (9) sentence to imprisonment for life or the commission of any infamous crime involving a violation of conjugal duty and punishable by imprisonment for a period in excess of one year; (10) legal confinement in a hospital or hospitals or other similar institution or institutions, because of mental illness, for at least an accumulated period totaling five years within the period of six years next preceding the date of the complaint.” Conn. Gen. Stat.§46b-40(c) (2008).

If you suspect that your spouse has been cheating on your, you can take steps to protect yourself.  Contact an attorney to discuss your divorce strategy today.

Posted by Stephen Lebedevitch | in Connecticut Divorce 101, Divorce Strategy, Plaintiff | Comments Off on Fault for Divorce in Connecticut

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