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Parental Law and Kidnapping

Monday, Sep. 9th 2013


Sometimes, divorce is resolved amicably and with ease. However, in many cases, divorce is a difficult and lengthy process. Especially if there is a custody battle involved in the divorce, tension can arise between the soon-to-be ex spouses. In some cases, coming to an agreement that is suitable for both parties seems impossible. If this happens, one spouse may feel that he or she has few plausible options for keeping custody of his or her children. As a result, drastic measures can be taken. While you might think that your spouse would never take your children without your consent, this does occur during Connecticut divorce. Luckily, Connecticut law protects parents from the removal of their children from the state without the consent of both parents. There are 2 laws in Connecticut that address this type of kidnapping during or after a divorce. There is also a federal law that prohibits the removal of children from the United States (18 USC §1204(a)).

One law that prohibits parents from taking children without the consent of the other parent is found in Connecticut’s general statute under section 53A-98. This law refers to custodial interference in the second degree and defines this crime as follows: “Class A misdemeanor: (a) A person is guilty of custodial interference in the second degree when: (1) Being a relative of a child who is less than sixteen years old and intending to hold such child permanently or for a protracted period and knowing that he has no legal right to do so, he takes or entices such child from his lawful custodian; (2) knowing that he has no legal right to do so, he takes or entices from lawful custody any incompetent person or any person entrusted by authority of law to the custody of another person or institution; or (3) knowing that he has no legal right to do so, he holds, keeps or otherwise refuses to return a child who is less than sixteen years old to such child’s lawful custodian after a request by such custodian for the return of such child. (b) Custodial interference in the second degree is a class A misdemeanor.” CONN. GEN. STAT. § 53A-98 (2011).

Another form of kidnapping by a parent is considered custodial interference in the first degree, which is a class D felony. This statute reads, “(a) A person is guilty of custodial interference in the first degree when he commits custodial interference in the second degree as provided in section 53a-98: (1) Under circumstances which expose the child or person taken or enticed from lawful custody or the child held after a request by the lawful custodian for his return to a risk that his safety will be endangered or his health materially impaired; or (2) by taking, enticing or detaining the child or person out of this state.” CONN. GEN. STAT. § 53a-97 (2011).

If your ex spouse has taken your children out of Connecticut without your consent, please contact the police. Once this is done, contact a Connecticut divorce attorney to help get court orders returning the children to you that the court in another state will enforce. Try not to panic, and remember that we can help you get your child home safely.

Posted by Stephen Lebedevitch | in Post Divorce | Comments Off on Parental Law and Kidnapping

Connecticut Return Date

Monday, Sep. 2nd 2013

Deciding to file for divorce can be difficult. You might feel confused, frustrated, and unsure of your decision. However, if you do decide to take the step to file for divorce, you should take the time to understand the divorce process. Immediately following the day that you file, the state of Connecticut allows for a “cooling off period”, in which both parties must decide if they want to proceed with the divorce or if they still want to try to salvage their marriage. If during the cooling off period, one or both parties decide that they do not want the divorce, it is fairly easy to end the process and continue the marriage. However, once this period is over, the divorce will proceed and it becomes harder to end the divorce process.

The Connecticut return date refers to the date on which the 90-day waiting period for a divorce begins. The return date marks the deadline for filing certain papers, and the date by which the defendant should file an appearance. On the return date, no one has to appear in court becomes nothing occurs in court.  However, by this date the summons and complaint must be turned in to to the clerk’s office by the plaintiff to show that the divorce papers were properly served.  If you are the defendant in the case, you should file an appearance by the return date, however there is no hearing scheduled for that date and you do not have to physically appear in court.

The return date is always a Tuesday in civil and family cases. To learn more about the return date and other aspects of the divorce process, you should contact a Connecticut divorce attorney. Because divorce lawyers are experienced with divorce cases and knowledgeable about divorce law, these people can help you through the process and answer any questions that you may have. If you are interested in a free consultation with a Connecticut divorce lawyer, you can contact me by clicking here.

Posted by Stephen Lebedevitch | in Connecticut Divorce 101 | Comments Off on Connecticut Return Date

Case Management Agreement

Monday, Sep. 2nd 2013


If you are going through a divorce, it will be helpful for you to familiarize yourself with the steps involved in this process. One aspect of the process that you should understand fully before going through a divorce is everything that is associated with the case management date. Similar to the return date, a case management date occurs toward the beginning of the divorce process.

Much like for the return date, you don’t have to appear in court on the case management date, unless you and your soon-to-be ex spouse are disputing custody of your children. Instead, it is a date by which you and your spouse must file a case management agreement with the court. Because the case return date in Connecticut always falls on a Tuesday, the case management date is always on a Monday. This date will also be noted in the Notice of Automatic Court Orders. The case management agreement form notifies the court about the status of the case and scheduling plans. You can set up the case management date with the court clerk after 90 days since your return date have passed. The case management date is often also the earliest date by which spouses can proceed with an uncontested final hearing and obtain their divorce. In some cases, mediated and collaborative divorces are settled and ready for an uncontested final hearing by the case management date. In more difficult cases where both parties cannot come to an agreement, the case management agreement might take longer to reach, prolonging the divorce.

You can access the case management agreement form here. If you have any questions concerning your divorce or the case management agreement, you can contact me for a free consultation. I will be happy to answer any questions that you may have at this time or assist you in filling out this form. To contact me, click here.

Posted by Stephen Lebedevitch | in Connecticut Divorce 101 | Comments Off on Case Management Agreement

Same-sex Divorce

Wednesday, Aug. 28th 2013

Same-sex marriage has been legal in Connecticut since 2008. Not all states accept same-sex marriages, so this is a big step for Connecticut. However, because same-sex marriage is so new, the same-sex divorce laws still need development.  This presents challenges for couples seeking a same-sex divorce that heterosexual couples do not face, namely, residency issues  and child custody problems. 

The right to obtain a divorce in Connecticut hinges on two factors. The first factor is that both parties have a legal relationship that is recognized by the state they seek the divorce in. The second factor is the necessity of meeting the state’s residency requirements. A same-sex couple that gets married in Connecticut will be able to obtain a divorce in Connecticut as long as at least one of the parties still resides in Connecticut at the time of the divorce. For same-sex couples that came to Connecticut solely to get married, the residency requirements won’t be met, meaning that you won’t be able to get your divorce in Connecticut. On the other hand, if you and your spouse were married and lived in Connecticut, but you moved to another state that doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage, you won’t be considered legally married there. As a result, if you wish to separate, you won’t have to go through the divorce process because you won’t be considered legally married to begin with. In this case, you will have to divide your assets, debt, and child custody without the help of a court. If this is the case, you can still consult with a divorce attorney in order to get help with an unofficial divorce.

Child custody can also become complex. Both custody and support enforcement may become difficult because not all states recognize same-sex agreements. As a result, an accepted upon agreement in Connecticut may not be recognized in another state, creating a frustrating situation when trying to divide child custody. Determining child custody becomes especially difficult if a gay couple adopted children. In some cases, only one spouse may legally adopt a child, so in a divorce, only that one spouse will have custody claims. The other spouse will have to make claims for child visitation or custody under third party visitation rights. This could be difficult if both spouses raised the child and want to have custody of him or her.

There is no universal law for same-sex divorce in America, since same-sex marriage is not accepted in all states. This can cause problems for same-sex couples in states such as Connecticut who wish to divorce in a quick, cost-effective, painless manner.  Just as it is difficult to get a same-sex marriage, it is equally if not more difficult to file for same-sex divorce. For this reason, it is important for couples involved in same-sex divorce to consult an experienced Connecticut divorce lawyer. This can make the process much less stressful.

Posted by Stephen Lebedevitch | in Connecticut Divorce 101 | Comments Off on Same-sex Divorce

Third Party Visitation Rights

Monday, Aug. 26th 2013


In the event of a divorce, the state of Connecticut has a visitation statute for all third parties, including grandparents. This statute allows for godparents, guardians, grandparents, and other people who acted as parental figures to children who were not their biological children to have visitation rights in the event of a divorce. In order to take advantage of this visitation statute, the court must approve the visitation. The court will make a decision based on what is in the child’s best interest. If the child is old enough to form an intelligent opinion on the matter, the child may express his or her wishes, which will be taken into consideration by the court (CGS § 46b-59).

Additional requirements were added to the visitation statute for third parties as a result of the Troxel v, Granville case. In Roth v. Roth, 259 Conn. 202 (2002), the court acknowledged that the statute contains a rebuttable which states that visitation opposed by a fit parent is not in a child’s best interest. In order for the court to have jurisdiction over a petition, the following requirements were established:

1. The petition must contain specific good faith allegations that the petitioner has a relationship with the child similar in nature to a parent-child relationship and;

2. The petition must also contain specific good faith allegations that denial of the visitation will cause real and significant harm to the child, that requires more than a determination that visitation would be in the child’s best interest.

However, keep in mind that just because these requirements are met does not mean that visitation will immediately be granted. Once these requirements are met, the petitioner has to prove the allegations by clear and convincing evidence before a judge. The court found that these requirements “serve as the constitutionally mandated safeguards against unwarranted intrusions into a parent’s authority. ”  If the custodial parent objects to you receiving visitation rights, you can still get these visitation rights, but it will be harder to do so. You would have to present detailed, solid evidence to the court in order to show that it is in the child’s best interest for you to have visitation rights.

Grandparents and other third parties are oftentimes invested in the lives of children they have come to know and love. A divorce can threaten a special relationship between a grandparent and his or her grandchildren, or a child and a person who acted as a parental figure. If you want visitation rights because you fear that you won’t be able to see the child as a result of a divorce, you will have to present a strong case in court. In order to gather evidence and increase your chances of having a petition for visitation rights accepted by the court, you should consider hiring an attorney to help you through the process. If you are interested in a free consultation, contact me here.

Posted by Stephen Lebedevitch | in Post Divorce | Comments Off on Third Party Visitation Rights

Relocating after Divorce

Wednesday, Aug. 21st 2013

Divorce can complicate some aspects of your life. Sharing child custody with your ex-spouse will require patience, mutual understanding, and respect. As a result, you still have to consider your ex-spouse when making important life decisions that could impact both of you and your ability to see your children. Despite the divorce, you should consider how relocating out of the state will affect your ex-spouse’s relationship with your children. Such a move can affect the other parent’s visitation schedule.

If you want to relocate to another state with your children, you might encounter some difficulty. This is because in many divorce situations, both parents share joint legal custody of the minor children, meaning they both have the right to make decisions that affect the children’s lives. If your ex-spouse has partial custody of your children and lives in the same state as you, he or she has probably grown accustomed to seeing the children on a frequent and regular basis.

Happy father and son

In a case where both parents share custody of the children, you will have to prove to the court why it would be in your children’s best interest to move them out of the state and away from their other parent. If you want to relocate, you should be open about this with your ex. He or she has a right to know that you are planning on drastically changing the routine that you both have come to expect. In many cases, the other spouse might object to the move. Typically, if you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement about relocating and changing the visitation schedule that was agreed upon during the divorce, you will have to attend a hearing in court explaining why you want to move with the children. The relocating parent must prove how the move will somehow benefit the children. One valid reason to relocate the children that courts usually accept is better schooling in a different district. Similarly, if you want to move for a job that will give you a greater financial gain the court will generally accept this as a reason to move. Other reasons can be presented to a judge, and if a judge feels that the benefits of the relocation outweigh staying where you currently live, you will be able to relocate with your children.

The key to relocating with children once a divorce has been finalized is receiving the court’s approval. In most cases, the court doesn’t want to separate a parent from his or her children or make it more difficult for one parent to see the children. Take this into consideration before your court hearing concerning relocation. You will have to present and support valid reasons as to how moving will benefit your children. In order to do this, consider hiring a divorce attorney. By hiring someone who is experienced with cases that are similar to your own, you can be sure to present the strongest case in court. If you are serious about relocating and want to discuss your chances of having relocation granted by a court, contact my firm today.

Posted by Stephen Lebedevitch | in Post Divorce | Comments Off on Relocating after Divorce

Family Law and Divorce Decisions

Monday, Aug. 19th 2013

County Courthouse Steps Afternoon Light

Recently, the State Appellate court released a number of important Family Law Decisions that could affect divorce in the state of Connecticut. If you are considering filing for divorce, you should familiarize yourself with these laws so that you can be fully prepared for how they may apply to your divorce.

  • AC31145 – Gong v. Huang (“The defendant . . . cross appeals from the judgment of the trial court dissolving his marriage to the plaintiff . . . claiming, inter alia, that the court abused its discretion when it: (1) failed to address his motion for modification of the pendente lite alimony order in a timely manner; (2) failed to consider the plaintiff’s dissipation of marital assets when it rendered its final judgment; (3) did not hold the plaintiff in contempt regarding her failure to maintain the mortgage and common charge payments of the parties’ Norwalk condominium (condominium) and her failure to return his personal property; (4) failed to modify the visitation agreement entered into by the parties; and (5) ordered the defendant to compensate the plaintiff $5000 for the disparity in value between their automobiles.”)
  • AC31842 – McRae v. McRae (“The defendant in this marital dissolution matter . . . appeals from the judgment of the trial court dissolving his marriage to the plaintiff . . . and entering related financial orders. On appeal, the defendant claims that the court improperly (1) assessed the value of his business and (2) awarded the plaintiff the cash equivalent of one-half of the value of his business in addition to alimony generated solely by that business.”)
  • AC32327 – Nowacki v. Nowacki (“The defendant . . . appeals from various postjudgment orders of the trial court following the dissolution of his marriage to the plaintiff . . . . “)

If you have any questions concerning these laws, you can contact me. I’d be happy to discuss these laws, other new laws related to divorce, or your personal situation. Click here for a free consultation now.

Posted by Stephen Lebedevitch | in Caselaw | Comments Off on Family Law and Divorce Decisions

Willful Desertion as Grounds for Divorce

Wednesday, Aug. 14th 2013

Upset Teenage Girl With Friends Gossiping In Background

When one person decides to file for divorce, some states require that this person have a legal reason for filing for divorce. This type of divorce is referred to as fault-based divorce, in which one spouse is responsible for the breakdown of the marriage.  When there are grounds for divorce, the process is much simpler and quicker than if there are no grounds for divorce, for instance when dealing with a no-fault divorce.  One grounds for divorce is willful desertion. While you can file for a no-fault divorce in the state of Connecticut, willful desertion is one type of grounds for divorce accepted in the state.

Willful desertion is considered grounds for divorce because it is the abandonment of one spouse by another. Willful desertion is defined as “the willful absenting of one party to the marriage contract from the society of the other, coupled with the intention on the part of the absenting party to live apart, in spite of the wish of the other, and not to return to cohabitation,” (Casale v. Casale, 138 Conn. 490, 492, 86 A.2d 568 (1952)).  As opposed to separation, in which two spouses live apart but they both give their consent to do so, willful desertion occurs when one spouse decides to live apart from his or her spouse despite the fact that the other spouse does not want to. Likewise, if your spouse no longer lives with you due to incarceration or some kind of forced separation, it is not considered willful desertion. The desertion by your spouse must be voluntary in order for you to make a case for willful desertion as grounds for divorce.

Willful desertion can be considered cause for divorce in the following situations: “(1) cessation from cohabitation; (2) an intention on the part of the absenting party not to resume it; (3) the absence of the other party’s consent; and (4) absence of justification,” (Gannon v. Gannon, 130 Conn. 449, 450, 35 A.2d 204 (1943)).  Keep in mind that in order to receive a divorce based on willful desertion, you must be able to prove the desertion in court. This means you must prove each of the elements listed above in order to make a case for willful desertion in court. In order to prove willful desertion as grounds for divorce, you will need evidence of the desertion.

If you believe that you have been willful deserted, you deserve a divorce. In order to build evidence and prove your case in court, it is in your best interest to hire an experienced divorce attorney. Divorce attorneys are familiar with at-fault divorce cases and can therefore guide you during the divorce process to ensure that you are able to build a strong case. Our initial consultation is always free and we can answer your questions about divorce before you make the final decision. Together, we can make the right decisions concerning your case to make this process cheaper and easier.

Posted by Stephen Lebedevitch | in Grounds for Divorce | Comments Off on Willful Desertion as Grounds for Divorce

Filing for Divorce First in Connecticut

Monday, Aug. 12th 2013

Divorce in Connecticut-LadyDivorce.com

If you feel that your marriage is coming to an end, you are probably confused, frustrated, and at a loss for how to proceed. Many of my clients who feel that they are in a marriage where divorce is imminent come to me with questions about beginning the divorce process. One of the most common questions that I get from people considering divorce is, “Should I file first?”

Being the one to file for divorce will not give you any legal advantages. However, there are other reasons why you might want to file for divorce before your spouse does. The person that files first will have the advantage of making the decision to enter the divorce process. If you file first, you don’t have to wait for your spouse to make a decision and sit around wondering if or when your spouse is going to file. Instead, you can prepare for the divorce by knowing exactly when the process will begin, since you will be the one filing the papers. This will give you time to get your affairs in order before and make a plan for your future.

Filing first will give you the opportunity to consult with various attorneys before the divorce process is too far along. By being proactive you can meet with several different lawyers before determining the best one for you. Taking your time to pick the best attorney for you will put your mind at ease and make the overall divorce process much less stressful. In addition, by filing for divorce first you will be prepared for the financial costs of divorce. You will have time to consult with an accountant or a financial planner in order to determine how you will pay for the divorce and how you will support yourself once the divorce is finalized. Having this plan can greatly help you in the long run.

Divorce can be overwhelming for both the person who files and the person who is served, but as the person who files you won’t be blindsided by the divorce and you will have time to get your affairs in order and begin to think about the future. However, keep in mind that filing for divorce first will not directly help you win a custody battle or receive the assets that you want to get out of the divorce. The best way to prepare for the divorce and  be satisfied with the result of the divorce is to hire an excellent Connecticut divorce attorney. If you are interested in a free consultation in order to discuss your individual case, click here.

Posted by Stephen Lebedevitch | in Connecticut Divorce 101 | Comments Off on Filing for Divorce First in Connecticut

How to Divorce in Connecticut

Wednesday, Jul. 31st 2013

Confused Older Student

Divorce is a major life event that anyone in the United States can have the right to file for.  However, the laws and regulations regarding how to file for divorce and the process of divorce will vary from state to state.  In the state of Connecticut, there are specific grounds that you can file for divorce under.  Once reviewing these grounds and feeling that you want a divorce, there are certain rules that apply if you want to get a divorce in the state of Connecticut.  One spouse must be a resident of Connecticut for at least a year before the divorce can be finalized.  This will particularly apply to same-sex couples seeking a divorce in Connecticut or any other state that allows gay divorce.  Other reasons to be eligible for divorce in Connecticut are if one spouse lived in Connecticut at the time of the marriage or if grounds for divorce arose in the state of Connecticut.  If any of these apply to you, you are eligible to have your divorce processed in Connecticut.

The divorce process in Connecticut will begin when one spouse files a summons and complaint with the Supreme Court in the district where he or she lives.  After this is filed, a 90-day cooling off period will ensue, during which the claim for divorce can be revoked.  Over the course of this 90-day period, temporary assistance can be requested of the court by either spouse.  Child custody and child support, as well as alimony are some examples of what the court can help you with.  If a restraining order is needed in more violent cases, it can be obtained during this period.

After this cooling off period is completed, you and your spouse are required to do two things.  The first is that you must sign a document saying that your marriage is irrevocably broken.  Secondly, you must make this claim in court.  At this point your assets will be divided, including property, debt, and any other marital property.  If communication is at all possible, you should try to maintain it with your spouse and sit down with him or her in order to divide your assets calmly.  The process will be much easier if you are both willing to compromise.  Child custody, support, and visitation will be discussed at this point, it you and your spouse have any children together.

This is a basic outline of the steps that you must take in order to get a divorce in the state of Connecticut, but you should also talk to an attorney who can give you a better estimate of details specific to your case as well as a rough time estimate for how long the process will take.  If you are looking to file for divorce, familiarize yourself with this process so that you can experience as quick and painless a divorce as possible.

Posted by Stephen Lebedevitch | in Connecticut Divorce 101, Uncategorized | Comments Off on How to Divorce in Connecticut