Military Law

Pre-Nups are for More than Just the Wealthy

A Prenuptial agreement is an agreement between two individuals planning to get married on how property will be distributed on the possibility of their separation. While no one likes to imagine separating at such an exciting time as just before marriage, if you have extensive assets, it must be considered.

Individuals with high wealth and those who are getting married later in life have often accrued a significant number of assets that it would be difficult to part with in the unfortunate event that their marriage did not work out. Entrepreneurs with established businesses could also find it beneficial to protect their enterprise by using a prenuptial agreement to ensure that business assets remain with them in the event of a break up.

For people who have been married before, or who have kids from a previous relationship, prenuptial agreements are much more common because they have already experienced a divorce and know how messy property division and child custody issues can be. Prenuptial agreements are also more common for marriages where one of the parties has inherited or will inherit a large sum of money.

When executing such an agreement, an attorney is necessary to complete the process correctly. While courts in Connecticut will enforce a prenuptial agreement, it must meet some very strict guidelines or a court may completely disregard it. Some of these guidelines include full disclosure of assets, a signed document in writing, and for each party to have individual professional representation. Such guidelines ensure fairness and efficiency of the process so no spouse is left in the dark upon divorce.

If you are considering a pre-nup or need to have one enforced upon divorce, contact one of the experienced divorce attorneys at Maya Murphy today. Our attorneys have worked countless divorce and family law cases in the courts of Connecticut and New York for decades. Get the answers you need and the representation you deserve. Call 203-221-3100 or email JMaya@mayalaw.com to schedule a consultation today!

If I Am Still Living in Our Marital Apartment and Am on the Lease, Am I Legally Entitled to Remain in the Apartment?

If you are navigating a divorce and are unsure of whether you are entitled to retain residence over the marital property, it would be in your best interest to consult an experienced divorce attorney.  An experienced divorce attorney has likely handled this situation countless times and can educate you on the best manner to proceed.

If you have any further questions regarding divorce law in Connecticut, please contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq. at (203) 221-3100 or e-mail him directly at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

One Dollar Per Year Alimony, Who Won?

Now in days one dollar per year alimony has become common in Connecticut, but why? Many people see this nominal award and are left with many questions such as: Is this a joke? Did the paying spouse just win? How could a dollar a year be alimony? Well here is the not so simple answer, an award of one dollar per year is a good thing…maybe. This type of award is more of an insurance policy for the parties involved, the court, and the state. By awarding one dollar, the court retains jurisdiction over the parties, and the right to modify the award if circumstances require it in the future. If no alimony is given, the court would have no such jurisdiction. The Connecticut Practice Series has commented on what purpose this award serves and the explanation in it’s entirety is as follows:

There is one major limitation on the discretion of the court to award alimony. The failure to award alimony at the time of the original dissolution forever precludes a later award of alimony regardless of how the circumstances may have changed. This could make for some very hard choices and potentially harsh results if there is doubt at the time of the dissolution as to either the alimony recipient’s future needs, or the resources from which an alimony order could be paid. In such a case, the courts frequently order alimony to be payable at the rate of one dollar per year. This serves to preserve the jurisdiction of the courts to order additional alimony in the future if the situation so requires.

In some instances such a measure is clearly intended primarily to protect the interests of the state. For example, awards of one dollar per year are often made subject to modification only in the event that the recipient becomes totally disabled from engaging in any gainful employment. In such a case the award would appear designed primarily to place the support obligation on the former spouse and not on the state rather than to guarantee the recipient any particular standard of living.

On occasion the award of a dollar per year is used to preserve the jurisdiction of the court when the financial circumstances of the parties are expected to undergo changes soon after the dissolution. For example, such an order was used when the husband was unemployed at the time of the dissolution, and his earning capacity could not be accurately determined but it was expected that he would become reemployed in the near future. In one such case the husband was employable but the rest home which had been owned and operated by the parties was ordered sold in connection with the dissolution. Accordingly, it was impossible for the trial court to ascertain his future earning capacity at that time.

A nominal award of alimony may also be used to protect against a party’s potential failure to comply with other portions of the orders. For example, in one instance, the nominal award was expressly designated as modifiable to reimburse the wife in the event she had to incur any expenses to pay or defend claims relating to debts the husband was obligated to pay under the judgment. A nominal award of this type may be especially important if it is contemplated or feared that one of the parties may declare bankruptcy after the dissolution and discharge joint debts allocated to him or her.

Apart from the instances in which the award of one dollar per year is used to preserve the jurisdiction of the court for some specific future evaluation, such an award may represent, at best, a rather imprecise form of disability insurance for the recipient spouse.

As you can see, a dollar per year is a win in some sense to all parties. It protects the state, gives the court continuing jurisdiction, insures the receiving spouse of a possible dramatic change in circumstance, and doesn’t financially harm the paying spouse in any way. Although the paying spouse may be the ultimate loser if an award is modified in the future, this award is the best middle-ground for all parties.

If you or someone you know has any questions regarding alimony, divorce, visitation, or child custody, please don’t hesitate to call one of the experienced Maya Murphy family law attorneys at 203-221-3100 for a free consultation.

Written by Kyle M. Buonocore
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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.

In Divorce Actions, “Double Dipping” Analysis Applies to Intellectual Property

In a relatively recent decision, the Connecticut Appellate Court held that a trial court erred in treating intellectual property as a marital asset subject to division while also awarding the wife a percentage of the income derived therefrom.  The parties in this particular case were married in 1992 and were the parents of two children.  In the underlying divorce action, the trial court found that although the parties were struggling financially, the husband had published a book from which he was experiencing financial gain.  After trial, the court ordered the husband to pay the wife periodic alimony and child support.  The court also ordered the husband to pay the wife thirty percent of the value of his unsold books, as well as thirty percent of all income received from the sale of the books.

The husband appealed, arguing that the court was not permitted to treat intellectual property as a martial asset subject to division while also ordering that he pay to the wife a portion of the income generated therefrom.

The Appellate Court agreed.  In furtherance of its decision, the Court noted that proceeds flowing from an interest in intellectual property constitute marital property subject to division as long as the proceeds are neither indefinite nor speculative.  The Court further explained that the consideration of a marital asset in both the property distribution and alimony award does not constitute double dipping unless any portion of the asset assigned to the nonemployee spouse was counted in determining the employee spouse’s resources for purposes of alimony.  Lynch v. Lynch, 135 Conn. App. 40 (2011).  Because the husband had a contractual right to receive royalties, the Court found that the value of the unsold books was in fact a marital asset subject to division.  However, the Court also determined that by dividing the value of the husband’s unsold books and then ordering him to pay income from royalties on those whose value was already allocated to the wife, the lower court essentially engaged in impermissible “double dipping.”  Thus, although the lower court was permitted to assign a portion of the value of the books to the wife, it was not permitted to grant her a portion of the royalties as well.

By: Attorney Michael D. DeMeola, Esq.

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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.

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.

 

The Attorneys of Maya Murphy, P.C. In the News

The attorneys of Maya Murphy have received significant news coverage for their excellent representation on a variety of issues. Please scroll through the newspaper clippings below to view the news coverage.


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Colorado Court Confirms FINRA Arbitration Award Denying Relief for Service Member’s USERRA Claims

Michael H. Ohlfs v.Charles Schwab & Co., Inc., 2012 WL 202776 (D. Colo. Jan. 24, 2012)

In a recent case before the Colorado federal district court, Michael Ohlfs (“Ohlfs”), an investment professional employed by Charles Schwab & Co., Inc., (“Charles Schwab”), filed a motion to vacate a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) arbitration award decided in favor of Charles Schwab in August 2011. Charles Schwab petitioned the court to confirm the arbitration award and enter judgment pursuant to the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”), 9 U.S.C. § 9. The court dismissed Ohlfs claims with prejudice and entered judgment for Charles Schwab.

The underlying dispute in this case arose when Ohlfs returned from post 9/11 active duty military service to a Grade 56 Investment Representative position with Charles Schwab, which was lower than the Grade 57 Senior Investment Specialist he held prior to his military service. The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, 38 U.S.C. § 4301, et seq., (“USERRA”) prohibits employment discrimination against military personnel deployed for active duty. Ohlfs initially filed his USERRA claims in federal district court; however, the court ordered the parties to FINRA arbitration pursuant to the agreement that Ohlfs executed when he registered as a securities broker.

FINRA appointed an arbitration panel of three arbitrators to hear the matter after Ohlfs executed a FINRA Arbitration Submission Agreement, which included an agreement to be bound by the award. Ohlfs’s claims against Charles Schwab included allegations that his re-employment in 2003 and 2004 were both in violation of USERRA § 4312, that he was discriminated against by failure to promote in violation of USERRA § 4311, and that he was discriminated against for filing a Department of Labor complaint. After ten days of hearings, the FINRA arbitration panel denied all Ohlfs’s statutory claims and all relief requested with prejudice.

Ohlfs filed a motion in federal court to vacate the FINRA arbitration award on several grounds, including unfair treatment by the FINRA arbitration panel, violation of the well-established USERRA public policy, and manifest disregard of the law.

Federal courts may vacate an arbitration award under four narrowly defined statutory grounds, 9 U.S.C. § 10(a), including “evident partiality” on the part of the arbitrators. An arbitration award may also be vacated for a limited number of judicially created reasons, such as violations of public policy, manifest disregard of the law, and denial of a fundamentally fair hearing. Sheldon v. Vermonty, 269 F.3d 1202, 1206 (10th Cir. 2001). Errors in the arbitration panel’s findings of fact, interpretation of the law, or application of the law do not justify vacating an award unless such errors correlate to a manifest disregard for the law. See Hollern v. Wachovia Sec., Inc., 458 F.3d 1169, 1172 (10th Cir. 2006).

To support his allegation of evident partiality by the arbitration panel, Ohlfs cited nine deficiencies in the arbitration process. The court determined that these allegations, viewed both separately and cumulatively, were insufficient to satisfy Ohlfs’s burden of demonstrating that the panel was unfair to him or partial to Charles Schwab. One of the key allegations was that two arbitrators were biased toward Charles Schwab because of their connections to the company. Two members of the arbitration disclosed their connections to Charles Schwab prior to hearing and deciding Ohlfs’s claims. Because he had knowledge of facts suggesting arbitrator bias or partiality but failed to object to their participation until after the entry of the award, the court determined that Ohlfs waived his right to claim arbitrator bias on these grounds. Another key allegation was that the arbitration panel refused to consider, or otherwise disregarded evidence, that Ohlfs presented regarding having gone from a Grade 57 Senior Investment Specialist to a Grade 56 Investment Representative following his post–9/11 military service. Without supporting transcripts from the arbitration hearing, the court determined it had no basis on which to find unfairness or partiality.

Courts have limited authority to vacate an arbitration award for non-statutory reasons. An arbitration award may be set aside on public policy grounds if: (1) the award creates an explicit conflict with other laws and legal precedents as opposed to general considerations of supposed public interests; and (2) the violation of such public policy is clearly shown. United Paperworkers Int’l Union, AFL–CIO v. Misco, Inc., 484 U.S. 29, 43 (1987). Ohlfs argued that the FINRA arbitration award in favor of his employer clearly violated USERRA’s well-defined public policy of protecting members of the armed forces from employment discrimination because the award absolved the employer of any wrongdoing without determining the merits of Ohlfs’s claims. The court determined that this argument was an attempt to attack the arbitration award on the basis of the arbitration panel’s failure to issue a reasoned decision. FINRA Rule 1304(g) provides for an “explained decision” that sets forth the general reasons for the arbitration award. However, such a decision is provided only in the event that the parties jointly request such a decision twenty days prior to the first scheduled hearing. FINRA Rule 13514(d). An explained decision was not required in this case under FINRA’s rules because the parties did not jointly request such a decision. Therefore, Ohlfs failed to carry his burden of proof on the matter.

In order to vacate an arbitration award based on the arbitrators’ manifest disregard of the law, “the record [must] show the arbitrator[s] knew the law and explicitly disregarded it.” Dominion Video Satellite, Inc. v. Echostar Satellite, L.L.C., 430 F.3d 1269, 1275 (10th Cir. 2005). The court determined that, in the absence of an explanation for the award, Ohlfs cannot demonstrate that the panel manifestly disregarded the law under USERRA based on the fact that it found for Charles Schwab on his claims. The award itself provided no basis to find an “explicit” disregard of the law. Charles Schwab presented substantial evidence in its defense during the arbitration, and the court cannot second guess the panel’s factual findings.

The court denied Ohlfs’s motion for vacatur and entered judgment in favor of Charles Schwab as set forth in the FINRA arbitration award dated August 9, 2011.

Should you have any questions relating to FINRA, arbitration or employment issues, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya in the firm’s Westport office in Fairfield County, Connecticut at 203-221-3100 or at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

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