Matrimonial & Family Law

Court Denies Mother’s Request to Relocate with Minor Child

In a recent post judgment divorce action originating in the Superior Court for the Judicial District of Hartford, Judge Prestley denied a mother’s request to relocate to France with the parties’ children.  The parties were married in 1981 and after twenty-six years, sought and obtained a divorce in 2008.  During their marriage, the parties had three children, born in 1988, 1992 and 1998.  The youngest child was the only minor at the time of the post judgment action.

In August, 2009, after reconnecting with a high school friend who was living in France, the mother informed the father that she was going to make two-month-trips overseas, returning home for two weeks in between.  Sometime later, she informed the father that she was engaged to the high school friend, and planned to move to France with the children permanently.  The father initially agreed to the plan, but then changed his mind.  In June, 2010, the mother filed a Motion to Modify Visitation requesting permission to relocate with the children.  In October, 2010, the father agreed to the move, but only for the 2010-2011 school year.  As the parties were unable to reach an agreement, a full hearing was held in January, 2011.

In its decision the Court noted that, pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes §46b-56d(a), the party wishing to relocate must demonstrate that the relocation is for a legitimate purpose, and that the proposed relocation is reasonable in light of such purpose. In this particular case the Court found the plaintiff had no legitimate reason to justify the proposed move. The mother testified that although she could not work legally in France, she would continue to work with her clients and structure workshops in her field. The plaintiff testified she was going to teach one seminar in March 2011 in the state of Florida (while temporarily living in France), and that she taught another workshop for which she earned $500.00.  The Court found that although the plaintiff expressed her opinion that there were more opportunities for her in France, she provided no details to support that claim, and, thus, could not demonstrate that furthering her career opportunities was a legitimate reason for the move.

The plaintiff also contended that relocating to France would provide a cultural opportunity to the parties’ minor child. She testified that the child was a speed-skater, that he had a new coach in France and that skating was more important for him than spending time with the father, from whom he needed to heal.  She further suggested that the child had been unhappy and stressed since the divorce, and that contact between the son and his father was not healthy for the child.

With respect to the child’s needs, the Court found that although there was credible evidence that verbal altercations occurred between the mother and the father in the presence of the children, and that the child was upset about his father’s objections to his moving to France, the evidence also established that the defendant participated in his children’s lives to the extent that he was able given his work schedule.  The Court further found that the father’s relationship with his son was good until the pending issues arose, that the child was involved in speed-skating in Connecticut prior to the move to France, and that skating opportunities were still available to him here.

The Court ultimately held that it could not find any legitimate purpose, financial or otherwise, to justify the proposed relocation.  It noted that although time spent in a foreign country may provide some cultural advantages, those potential advantages were overshadowed by the irreparable harm the child would likely suffer as his relationship with his father was continuing to deteriorate with distance.  The Court essentially held that repairing and fostering the child’s relationship with his father was more important that any cultural advantages he may have gained by moving.

Should you have any questions about divorce in Connecticut or minor relocation cases within Divorce Court, contact our Managing Partner Joseph Maya directly via email at JMaya@Mayalaw.com or by telephone at (203) 221-3100 for a free consultation.

Court Denies Foster Parent’s Right to Intervene in DCF Proceeding

In a recent decision involving the Department of Children and Families (DCF), the Superior Court (Simon, J.) precluded a foster parent from intervening in proceedings designed to reunify a child with her biological father. DCF originally filed a request for an order of temporary custody, which the Court sustained by agreement, as well as a neglect petition, which the Court granted. Shortly thereafter, the child was committed to the Department, and placed in foster care. Although DCF later filed a request for termination of parental rights, the Court denied it, affording the child’s mother and father an opportunity to rehabilitate themselves.

In a parallel case, the child’s biological father was also committed to the Department, and ultimately placed in foster care himself. The Court found that the father was fully compliant with all DCF requirements, including attendance at school, and was also showing appropriate parenting skills. When the Department indicated it intended to reunify the child with her father in his new home, the child’s foster mother filed a motion seeking intervenor status to oppose the removal.

In denying the foster mother’s request, the Court explained, “A person or entity does not have a sufficient interest to qualify for the right to intervene merely because an impending judgment will have some effect on him, her, or it. The judgment to be rendered must affect the proposed intervenor’s direct or personal rights, not those of another.” The Court further explained, “These proceedings affect the rights of [the child] and her parents, not the rights of the foster mother. Foster parents are entrusted with foster children on a temporary basis only. Clearly the foster mother will be emotionally affected by the court’s decision; however the court’s judgment affects the rights of [the child] and her parents, particularly the father. It does not affect any direct or personal right that the foster mother may hold by law.”

With respect to the fact that the foster mother was allegedly told she would be the adoptive option for the child, the Court appeared to be sympathetic explaining it could “only imagine her frustration if in fact she was told she would be the adoptive resource…” Nevertheless, it ultimately held there was no controversy before it that require[d] the foster mother’s involvement.” Ultimately, “It is [the father] that has a right to be reunited with his daughter.”

Should you have any questions related to DCF proceedings, please feel free to contact our Managing Partner Joseph Maya directly via email at JMaya@Mayalaw.com or by telephone at (203) 221-3100 for a free consultation.

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Our family law firm in Westport Connecticut serves clients with divorce, matrimonial, and family law issues from all over the state including the towns of: Bethel, Bridgeport, Brookfield, Danbury, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Monroe, New Canaan, New Fairfield, Newton, Norwalk, Redding, Ridgefield, Shelton, Sherman, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Weston, Westport, and Wilton. We have the best divorce attorneys and family attorneys in CT on staff that can help with your Connecticut divorce or New York divorce today.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to a divorce law attorney about a divorce or familial matter, please don’t hesitate to call our office at (203) 221-3100. We offer free divorce consultation as well as free consultation on all other familial matters. Divorce in CT and divorce in NYC is difficult, but education is power. Call our family law office in CT today.

Joseph Maya selected to 2022 Edition of Best Lawyers in America

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Westport, CT

 

Maya Murphy, P.C. is pleased to announce that Joseph Maya has been included in the 2022 edition of The Best Lawyers in America®. Since it was first published in 1983, Best Lawyers has become universally regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence.

Joseph Maya, a Connecticut and New York-based litigation attorney, was recognized in The Best Lawyers in America© 2022 edition. He has been rated Best Lawyers in America and ranks among the top private practice attorneys nationwide. Attorneys listed in this edition of The Best Lawyers in America were selected after an exhaustive peer-review survey that confidentially investigates the professional abilities and experience of each lawyer. Recognition in Best Lawyers® is widely regarded by both clients and legal professionals as a significant honor.

Mr. Maya has been practicing law in Connecticut for more than 25 years. He has been a licensed attorney in New York for more than 30 years.

“Best Lawyers was founded in 1981 with the purpose of highlighting the extraordinary accomplishments of those in the legal profession,” said Best Lawyers CEO Phillip Greer. “We are proud to continue to serve as the most reliable, unbiased source of legal referrals worldwide.”

Lawyers on The Best Lawyers in America list are divided by geographic region and practice areas. They are reviewed by their peers based on professional expertise, and undergo an authentication process to make sure they are in current practice and in good standing.

 

Maya Murphy, P.C. has offices in Westport, CT and New York City. For additional information on Joseph Maya or Maya Murphy, P.C., please visit its website at https://mayalaw.com, or call 203-221-3100.

 

Court Awards Wife Alimony Based on Husband’s Earning Capacity Despite His Unemployment

In a recent divorce action pending in the Judicial District of Stamford at Norwalk, the court awarded a wife alimony and child support based on the husband’s earning capacity even though he was unemployed at the time of trial.  The parties were married in 1995 and lived in Wilton, Connecticut with their three minor children.  The wife brought approximately $360,000.00 into the marriage, consisting of liquid assets and a trust interest.  Although the parties had numerous disagreements over the years, the court found them equally at fault for the breakdown of the marriage.

Although the husband was unemployed at the time of trial, the court found that he had a minimum earning capacity of $200,000.00, plus bonuses and commission.  Thus the court ordered the husband to pay the wife unallocated alimony and child support in the amount of $7,500.00 per month for a period of approximately ten years.  Additionally, commencing January 1, 2013, and for the same ten year period thereafter, the court ordered the husband to pay the wife 40% of his gross earned income between $201,000.00 and $400,000.00, and 30% of his gross earned income between $400,001.00 and $800,000.00.

Should you have any questions regarding alimony, or divorce actions in general, please do not hesitate to contact Michael D. DeMeola, Esq.  He can be reached in the firm’s Westport office at (203) 221-3100 or by e-mail at mdemeola@mayalaw.com.
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Our family law firm in Westport Connecticut serves clients with divorce, matrimonial, and family law issues from all over the state including the towns of: Bethel, Bridgeport, Brookfield, Danbury, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Monroe, New Canaan, New Fairfield, Newton, Norwalk, Redding, Ridgefield, Shelton, Sherman, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Weston, Westport, and Wilton. We have the best divorce attorneys and family attorneys in CT on staff that can help with your Connecticut divorce or New York divorce today.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to a divorce law attorney about a divorce or familial matter, please don’t hesitate to call our office at (203) 221-3100. We offer free divorce consultation as well as free consultation on all other familial matters. Divorce in CT and divorce in NYC is difficult, but education is power. Call our family law office in CT today.

 

Court Approves Permanency Plan Including Termination of Parental Rights

In a recent decision involving the Department of Children and Families, the Court overruled the respondent mother’s objection to a proposed permanency plan that included termination of parental rights and adoption.  At the time of the hearing, the children were fourteen and eleven years old.  They both had special educational needs and were victims of sexual and physical abuse.  In 2005, they were taken into the custody of DCF after the Court granted an Order of Temporary Custody, or OTC.  Although the commitment was later revoked and the children returned to the mother’s care, they were eventually recommitted to the Department pursuant to a second OTC granted approximately two years later.

In overruling the mother’s objection, the Court noted that it is required to approve a permanency plan that is in the best interests of the child and takes into consideration the child’s need for permanency.  In considering a permanency plan, the child’s health and safety are of paramount concern. From an evidentiary standpoint, the judicial authority must find that the proposed goal of the permanency plan is in the best interests of the child by a fair preponderance of the evidence.

In this particular case, the Court considered the testimony of three expert witnesses, as well as evidence which established that both children were the victims of repeated sexual and physical abuse.  The Court further found that the parents failed to adequately acknowledge the abuse or the children’s special needs despite ample time and services.  Finally, the Court found that the children had been in foster care for over three years and felt a sense of well-being, safety and comfort in the home.  Based on those findings, the Court ultimately held that the permanency plan, including termination of parental rights, was in the children’s best interests.

Should you have any questions related to DCF proceedings, or family matters generally, please feel free to contact Michael D. DeMeola.  He practices in the firm’s Westport office and can be reached at (203) 221-3100 or mdemeola@mayalaw.com.
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Our family law firm in Westport Connecticut serves clients with divorce, matrimonial, and family law issues from all over the state including the towns of: Bethel, Bridgeport, Brookfield, Danbury, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Monroe, New Canaan, New Fairfield, Newton, Norwalk, Redding, Ridgefield, Shelton, Sherman, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Weston, Westport, and Wilton. We have the best divorce attorneys and family attorneys in CT on staff that can help with your Connecticut divorce or New York divorce today.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to a divorce law attorney about a divorce or familial matter, please don’t hesitate to call our office at (203) 221-3100. We offer free divorce consultation as well as free consultation on all other familial matters. Divorce in CT and divorce in NYC is difficult, but education is power. Call our family law office in CT today.

Wife Found in Contempt of Court’s “Automatic Orders”

In a relatively recent decision rendered in a dissolution of marriage action, a wife was found in contempt for depriving her husband of information regarding the parties’ two minor children in violation of the court’s “automatic orders.”  In this particular case, the parties were married 1991, and were the parents of two children.  At the time of trial the husband was forty-three years old and in generally good health.  He had an associate’s degree and worked for a supply company earning approximately $51,000 annually.  The wife was also forty-three years old and in generally good health.  Although she stayed home to care for the family for a better part of the marriage, in 1999 she began working as an independent contractor selling kitchen products.  Later, she worked for a local board of education, and at the time of trial, was employed with a local newspaper earning roughly $20,000, plus commission, annually.

During the divorce proceedings, the husband filed a motion for contempt claiming the wife violated the court’s automatic orders in that she left the marital residence with the children and refused to disclose their location.  In reviewing the merits of the husband’s motion, the court noted that in a civil contempt proceeding, the movant must show by a preponderance of the evidence the existence of a clear and unambiguous court order, and willful noncompliance with that order.  According to the court’s “automatic orders,” entered upon the commencement of every divorce action, neither party is permitted to remove children from the State of Connecticut without prior written consent of the other parent.  Additionally, a party vacating the marital residence with minor children must notify the other parent of the move, and must provide the other parent of an address where the relocated party can be contacted.  Finally, where parents live separate and apart during a divorce proceeding, pursuant to the “automatic orders,” they must assist their children in having contact with both parents.

In this particular case, the court found that because the wife was served in hand with a notice of automatic orders, she clearly knew she had an obligation to inform the husband in writing of any relocation.  The court found that she also knew she had a duty to assist her children in having contact with their father.  Nevertheless, the wife willfully removed the children from the home, and kept their address from the husband absent a valid reason for doing so.  As a result, the husband did not know where the children were living until the day of trial.  The court further found that the wife willfully kept the children from having contact with their father in violation of the court’s clear and unambiguous automatic orders.

Should you have any questions regarding automatic court orders, or divorce proceedings in general, please feel free to contact Attorney Michael D. DeMeola, Esq.  He can be reached in the firm’s Westport office at (203) 221-3100 or by e-mail at mdemeola@mayalaw.com.
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Our firm in Westport serves clients with divorce, matrimonial, and family law issues from all over the state including the towns of: Bethel, Bridgeport, Brookfield, Danbury, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Monroe, New Canaan, New Fairfield, Newton, Norwalk, Redding, Ridgefield, Shelton, Sherman, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Weston, Westport, and Wilton.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to an attorney about a divorce or familial matter, please don’t hesitate to call our office at (203) 221-3100 for a free consultation. Divorce is difficult, education is power. Call today.

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New York Child Support Order Constitutes Impermissible Modification

Where a parent relocates to another state following a divorce, parties are often faced with the challenge of determining where to file post judgment motions.  In some cases, parties must also determine whether new – or different – orders are permitted under the laws of the state to which the former spouse moved.  In a relatively recent decision, a New York court addressed whether it was permitted to enter an entirely new child support order after a Connecticut order regarding the same children had expired.

The parties in this case were married in Connecticut and were the parents of three children.  When they separated, the mother moved with the children to New York while the father continued to reside in Connecticut.  As part of the divorce judgment, the court ordered the father to pay child support in the amount of $250.00 per week per minor child, and to continue providing the children with medical insurance at his sole expense. When the eldest son turned eighteen, the father’s support obligation terminated.

The mother subsequently filed a motion in New York seeking the reinstatement of child support.  In support of her motion, the mother claimed that under New York law, child support is payable until the age of twenty-one.  The father moved to dismiss the petition, arguing that the new order constituted an impermissible modification of the original order issued in Connecticut.  The court dismissed the father’s motion, however, and ordered him to pay child support in the amount of $350.00 per week.

On appeal, the Court noted that under the Full Faith and Credit for Child Support Orders Act, each state must give full faith and credit to another state’s validly issued child support order and shall not seek to modify such order except in limited circumstances.  That legislative scheme, coupled with the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, establishes that the state issuing a child support order retains continuing, exclusive jurisdiction as long as one of the parties continues to reside in the issuing state.  In this particular case, the Appellate Court found that the father continued to reside in Connecticut and, therefore, Connecticut retained exclusive jurisdiction over the support order at issue.  Because the Appellate Court also found that the new order constituted a modification, it ultimately concluded that the trial had acted without jurisdiction.

Should you have any questions regarding child support, or divorce matters in general, please feel free to contact Attorney Michael D. DeMeola, Esq.  He can be reached in the firm’s Westport office at (203) 221-3100 or by e-mail at mdemeola@mayalaw.com.

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Our firm in Westport serves clients with divorce, matrimonial, and family law issues from all over the state including the towns of: Bethel, Bridgeport, Brookfield, Danbury, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Monroe, New Canaan, New Fairfield, Newton, Norwalk, Redding, Ridgefield, Shelton, Sherman, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Weston, Westport, and Wilton.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to an attorney about a divorce or familial matter, please don’t hesitate to call our office at (203) 221-3100 for a free consultation. Divorce is difficult, education is power. Call today.

 

Court Permits Transfer of Guardianship to Out-Of-State Aunt

In a decision involving the Department of Children and Families, a Connecticut trial court granted a maternal aunt’s motions for out-of-state placement and transfer of guardianship.  The children were originally removed from the mother’s care pursuant to an Order of Temporary Custody upon allegations that they were being denied proper care and attention, and were living under conditions injurious to their wellbeing.  After the children were committed to the care of DCF and placed in a foster residence, their maternal aunt, who lived in New York, filed a motion to intervene in the proceedings to obtain guardianship.

In granting the aunt’s motions, the Court explained that pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes § 46b-129(j), if a court determines that commitment should be revoked and the child’s guardianship should vest in someone other than his or her parents, or if parental rights are terminated at any time, there shall be a rebuttable presumption that an award of legal guardianship or adoption to a relative who is licensed as a foster parent shall be in the best interests of the child.   That presumption may be rebutted only by a preponderance of the evidence that such an award would not be in the child’s best interests and that such relative is not a suitable and worthy caregiver. In Re Noella A., Superior Court, Judicial District of New London, Docket No. K09CP09011902A (March 24, 2011, Mack, JTR).

Employing the aforementioned standard, the Court found that although the children had progressed well in foster care, there was no showing that the same progress could not be made if they lived with the maternal aunt.  The Court also found that in living with the aunt, the children would be with their cousins in an equally secure, safe, caring, and nurturing environment. The Court further explained that even though the children established a bond with their foster parents, there was nothing to suggest they could not do so with their extended family. Ultimately modifying the permanency plan from termination of parental rights and adoption to transfer of guardianship, the Court stated it could not find that placement with the aunt would not be in the children’s best interests.

If you have questions regarding guardianship proceedings or any family law matter, contact Joseph Maya at 203-221-3100 or by email at JMaya@MayaLaw.com.
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Our family law firm in Westport Connecticut serves clients with divorce, matrimonial, and family law issues from all over the state including the towns of Bethel, Bridgeport, Brookfield, Danbury, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Monroe, New Canaan, New Fairfield, Newton, Norwalk, Redding, Ridgefield, Shelton, Sherman, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Weston, Westport, and Wilton. We have the best divorce attorneys and family attorneys in CT on staff that can help with your Connecticut divorce or New York divorce today.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to a divorce law attorney about a divorce or familial matter, please don’t hesitate to call our office at (203) 221-3100. We offer free divorce consultation as well as free consultation on all other familial matters. Divorce in CT and divorce in NYC is difficult, but education is power. Call our family law office in CT today.

Former Wife Found in Contempt For Refusing to Pay College Expenses

A decision rendered in the Connecticut Superior Court illustrates the potential consequences of entering into an ambiguous agreement regarding the payment of college expenses.  In this particular case, the parties obtained an uncontested divorce on September 8, 2008.  Pursuant to the terms of their separation agreement, the parties were each responsible for paying 50% of their children’s “actual college education.”  Except for the designation “actual college education,” the language of the agreement tracked the language of C.G.S.A. §46b-56c in that educational costs were to include room, board, dues, tuition, books, fees, registration costs, and application costs up to the amount charged by the University of Connecticut for a full-time, in-state student.

When the parties’ older son attended technical school, both the mother and father contributed to the cost.  However, when the parties’ younger son enrolled in college, the mother refused to contribute, claiming she was entitled to a credit because the younger son’s technical school education was not “actual college” as set forth in the parties’ separation agreement.  The father filed a motion for contempt against the mother seeking an order of enforcement.

Relying, at least in part, on another Connecticut Superior Court decision which addressed a nearly identical issue, the Court found that the term “college” as used in the parties’ separation agreement did in fact include technical school.  Therefore, the mother was obligated to contribute toward both the older son’s vocational education and the younger son’s college education.  Since she failed to do so, the Court found the mother in contempt and ordered her to pay the husband the outstanding balance within thirty days.

If you have questions regarding alimony and college expenses, or any family law matter, contact Joseph Maya at 203-221-3100 or by email at JMaya@MayaLaw.com.

Court Awards Wife Alimony for a Period of Ten Years with Safe Harbor for Husband Up to $250,000 Annually

In a recent dissolution of marriage action pending in the Judicial District of Fairfield at Bridgeport, the Court awarded the wife unallocated alimony and child support in the amount of $1,000 per week.  The parties were married in 1999 and were the parents of two children, both of whom were minors at the time of trial.  The Husband was thirty-eight years of age, had a degree in engineering, and worked for a family business owned by his father.  The wife was forty years of age.  She did not have a college degree and worked only seven hours per week.  The parties both alleged that the other caused the breakdown of the marriage by abusing drugs and alcohol, although the Court questioned the wife’s credibility on that topic.  The wife also claimed that the husband expressed he wanted to end the marriage because he had met another woman.  Despite the parties’ allegations, however, the Court found them equally at fault for the breakdown of the relationship.

At trial, the wife also claimed that the husband underreported his income on his financial affidavit, although the Court noted that she presented no evidence to support the allegation.  The Court ultimately reviewed the parties’ joint tax returns and found that the husband’s gross income at the time of trial was $140,000 per year, exclusive of any bonus and that the wife was earning $100 gross per week.   Based on those figures, the Court determined that the presumptive child support award under the Connecticut Child Support Guidelines was $392 per week.  However, at the parties’ request, the Court entered an unallocated alimony and child support order, awarding the wife $1,000 per week for a period of ten years, with the full amount deductible by the husband and taxable to the wife.  The Court further ordered the husband to pay the wife 50% of his bonus each year within ten days of his receipt of the same.  The Court specified that said sum shall also be paid to the wife as unallocated alimony and child support, and therefore was also deductible by the Husband and taxable to the wife.  The Court allowed the husband a safer harbor up to $250,000 per year, and the wife a safe harbor up to $10,000 per year, thereby precluding future modifications unless and until their respective incomes exceeded the aforementioned amounts.

If you have questions regarding alimony or any family law matter, contact Joseph Maya at 203-221-3100 or by email at JMaya@MayaLaw.com.