Posts tagged with "child support litigation"

Choose Your Divorce Mediator Wisely

What to Look for in a Divorce Mediator

The decision to work with a divorce mediator instead of divorce litigation is wise. Mediation will save you time, money, and the stress of going to court. The next decision is choosing a divorce mediator. Here are the top ten qualities to look for in a divorce mediator. But first, be aware that there is a trend in divorcing couples choosing to mediate versus litigate. This trend has led to a flooded market of untrained divorce litigators practicing divorce mediation. Yet, many divorce lawyers are now mediating due to the stress and toxicity of divorce litigation.

Top Ten Qualities You Want in a Divorce Mediator

1- Experience


3- Empathetic

4- Attentive

5- Responsive

6- Affordable



9- Active Listener

10- Impartial

Go With Your Gut When Choosing a Divorce Mediator

Choosing a divorce mediator is like choosing a doctor or a therapist. You will be sharing the most personal and intimate information about yourself and your life. When I say go with your gut it means that when you interview a mediator, you will immediately get a feel for the person both professionally and personally. If something rubs you the wrong way, there is a reason. Move on. Given how many divorce mediators are practicing in your area, there is no need to settle for someone that does not feel like the right fit. Remember, choose wisely.

Spouses Should Select and Mutually Agree on their Divorce Mediator

It is not uncommon for a couple to interview several divorce mediators before selecting a mediator that feels right for their unique circumstances. Of course choosing a mediator needs to be by mutual agreement of both spouses. If both do not agree, and one acquiesces to appease the other spouse, the mediation process will not be as successful as one where there is mutual accord from the start on the selection of their divorce mediator.

Written by: Attorney Mediator Susan Wakefield


If you have any questions about divorce mediation, choosing a divorce mediator, or would like to speak to a divorce mediator or family law attorney, do not hesitate to contact our experienced attorney mediator and other skilled family law attorneys at Maya Murphy, P.C. at (203)221-3100 or email We offer free consultations for all new clients. Our office in Westport, Connecticut services the entire state of Connecticut.

The Benefits of Family Law Mediation

What are the Benefits of Family Law Mediation

Mediation is more popular than ever. Parties use mediation in many settings including divorce and custody matters. The benefits of family law mediation are both financial and emotional. Family law mediation is a constructive and alternative approach to resolving conflicts arising in family matters. In essence, it is a voluntary process where an impartial third party, the mediator, assists disputing family members in reaching mutually acceptable agreements. This method is particularly prevalent in cases involving divorce, child custody, visitation rights, and spousal support. Mediation has financial benefits when compared to expensive litigation.

The Role of the Family Law Mediator

The family law mediator facilitates communication, helps parties identify their interests and concerns, and guides them in generating viable solutions. Unlike traditional litigation, family law mediation promotes open dialogue and empowers individuals. Parties actively participate in crafting resolutions that align with their unique circumstances. Mediation proves to be a more amicable and cost-effective option. Families believe mediation fosters a cooperative environment that can be crucial for preserving relationships, especially when children are involved.

The Advantages of Family Law Mediation

In addition to financial benefits, another key advantage of family law mediation is its flexibility. The process allows families to tailor solutions to their specific needs and concerns. Mediation is empowering, fostering a sense of ownership over the outcome. Moreover, mediation tends to be less adversarial than litigation. Mediators strive to reduce the emotional toll on all parties involved. By providing a forum for open communication and collaboration, family law mediation offers a more dignified and less contentious path to resolving disputes. Families aim for successful outcomes that prioritize the well-being of all family members involved. In divorce and custody situations, family law mediation is proven to be affordable and less contentious than litigation.

If you have any questions about family law mediation, divorce, or any other family law matter, contact Maya Murphy, P.C. at (203) 221- 3100 or email We offer free consultations with any of our skilled professionals.

Divorce Mediation Grows In Popularity

Divorce Mediation Is More Popular Than Ever Before

Divorce mediation is growing in popularity among those contemplating divorce. With the help of an impartial third party who facilitates discussion and negotiations, couples avoid litigation and expensive legal fess. A mediator’s primary role is to guide the couple toward shared goals and creative options. In mediation, the couple maintains control over the outcome of their divorce. Couples are empowered and participate fully in their divorce process.

Top Ten Advantages of Divorce Mediation
  • The cost of mediation is generally much less than litigating in court
  • Mediation helps you arrive at resolution faster and avoid court delays
  • Couples maintain control over their divorce process and outcome
  • Parties make the decisions on how to divide their assets and debts, not a court
  • Parents can create their own personalized parenting arrangements
  • Focus is on shared goals, best interests of the family and looking toward the future
  • Negotiating in a safe environment with privacy and confidentiality
  • Improves relationships and communication bringing the family together
  • Empowering because parties go at their own pace
  • More successful co-parenting post divorce
Divorce Mediation Process

Divorce mediation involves a series of joint meetings with the parties and the divorce mediator. During the mediation sessions, the parties discuss their assets, debts, and other important financial matters. The parties disclose their bank accounts, retirement funds, investments, and debts. The parties reach an agreement on how to equitably divide their assets and debt. If children are involved, the parents will discuss custody, child support, parenting time, and education. Together the mediator and parties partner to discuss options and structure a settlement that both spouses feel is fair and equitable.

Couples Make Their Own Decisions

Divorce mediation puts both parties in charge of their divorce and settlement. Parties reach a mutually acceptable agreement rather than have a judge impose divorce settlement terms that neither party is happy about. The mediator keeps parties focused on what is most important while avoiding emotional and personal issues that can negatively impact negotiations. When a couple makes their own decisions and prepares their own settlement agreement, they are more compliant with the agreement and less likely to return to court after the divorce.

LGBTQ+ Community

For gay and lesbian couples, the dissolution of a civil union or same-sex marriage may raise a number of legal issues that require unique solutions. Mediation presents an alternative to traditional divorce litigation in a private, compassionate setting.

Schedule An Appointment

To schedule an appointment and learn more about our divorce mediation practice, call (203) 221-3100 or contact one of our family law attorneys at Maya Murphy, P.C.  Susan Wakefield is a trained attorney mediator who has helped couples reach successful outcomes for over 30 years. Experience and Trust Matters.

If you have any questions about divorce mediation, family law mediation, or need help with a post-divorce matter, contact us at (203) 221-3100 or email or We service all of Connecticut including the towns of Ansonia, Beacon Falls, Bethany, Bethel, Branford, Bridgeport, Brookfield, Cheshire, Danbury, Darien, Derby, East Haven, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Guilford, Hamden, Madison, Meriden, Middlebury, Milford, Monroe, Naugatuck, New Canaan, New Fairfield, New Haven, Newton, North Branford, North Haven, Norwalk, Orange, Oxford, Prospect, Redding, Ridgefield, Seymour, Shelton, Sherman, Southbury, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Wallingford, Waterbury, West Haven, Weston, Westport, Wilton, and Woodbridge. In addition to assisting clients in Connecticut, our firm handles education law matters in New York as well.

Navigating Immigration Law and Divorce

Immigration Status and Divorce

Divorce can be a stressful process. When immigration law and a divorce intersect, it can be even more confusing and challenging. In this guide, we’ll break down the key issues and offer practical advice for those facing both processes simultaneously. Here we discuss why consulting with a divorce and family law attorney is crucial when immigration concerns are involved.

  1. Conditional Residency and Divorce:

If you obtained conditional residency through marriage, a divorce before removing the conditions can complicate your immigration status. Consider filing for a waiver, showing that the marriage was genuine but ended in divorce. This process can be tricky, so seek legal assistance from attorneys who understand the nuances of both divorce and immigration law.

  1. Visa Petitions and Family-Based Immigration:

If you’re sponsoring a family member for immigration and divorce happens before the process is complete, it may impact your eligibility. Be prepared to provide additional evidence of the relationship’s authenticity and consult both an immigration lawyer and divorce attorney for comprehensive guidance.

  1. Custody and Immigration:

In custody litigation, a parent’s immigration status may be considered. Understand how potential deportation or immigration challenges could affect custody decisions. Attorneys handling these cases should be familiar with both family law and immigration law. Consulting with an attorney ensures that your custody strategy aligns with your overall legal situation.

  1. Public Charge Rule and Financial Support:

The public charge rule assesses financial ability to support a sponsored family member. Divorce can impact this assessment, so be aware of its implications on your immigration case. Because divorce involves a division of assets, alimony and child support, your financial picture will change. Provide accurate financial information to immigration authorities and consult with a divorce attorney to ensure your divorce proceedings align with immigration requirements.


Navigating an immigration application and divorce together can be complex. Seek guidance from experienced attorneys who will collaborate on your behalf. Stay informed, get legal advice, and be proactive in addressing the unique challenges that arise at the intersection of immigration law and divorce.

If you are interested in speaking with one of our skilled professionals, contact Maya Murphy, PC. at (203) 221-3100 or email Our firm in Westport, Connecticut serves clients with legal assistance all over the state, including the towns of Ansonia, Beacon Falls, Bethany, Bethel, Branford, Bridgeport, Brookfield, Cheshire, Danbury, Darien, Derby, East Haven, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Guilford, Hamden, Madison, Meriden, Middlebury, Milford, Monroe, Naugatuck, New Canaan, New Fairfield, New Haven, Newton, North Branford, North Haven, Norwalk, Orange, Oxford, Prospect, Redding, Ridgefield, Seymour, Shelton, Sherman, Southbury, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Wallingford, Waterbury, West Haven, Weston, Westport, Wilton, and Woodbridge. In addition to assisting clients in Connecticut, our firm handles education law matters in New York as well.

Family Law Mediation For Couples

Unmarried Couples Opt For Family Law Mediation When Separating

Family law mediation is an option for unmarried couples to separate amicably. Couples are under the misconception that living together for a long period of time constitutes a common law marriage. However, Connecticut does not recognize common law marriage. No matter how long a couple lives together they are not married by law.  The couple cannot file an action in court like a married couple. Their best option for settling issues when they separate is to work with a family law mediator. With the help of a mediator they can reach an agreement on how to split assets and co-parent their children.

Dividing Assets

Couples live together for many years sharing resources and purchasing property without ever marrying. They own real estate together and accumulate joint debts just like their married counterparts. It feels like a divorce when the time comes to end the relationship but from a legal standpoint, their situation is quite different For married couples, they have access to file for divorce in court. There is no similar process for unmarried couples to settle the division of their assets. Family law mediation offers unmarried couples a way to work out their differences and reach an agreement on the division of their assets and debts.

Child Custody and Child Support

Family court does not have authority to divide the assets of an unmarried couple. However, unmarried parents can file an action for custody and child support in court. Every parent has legal rights regarding their children. Never marrying does not affect the custodial rights of parents. This assumes the parents are either the biological parent or adoptive parent of the child. An unmarried parent has the same protection and legal rights under Connecticut law as do parents that marry. Either parent can petition the court to decide issues of custody and child support. A family law mediator can help you process the paperwork to start a custody application, calculate child support and prepare a parenting plan which is then filed in court.

Benefits of Family Law Mediation For Unmarried Couples

A family law mediator can prepare legal documents, like a quit claim deed and a parenting agreement. An agreement can state how a couples will divide their real estate, personal property and debt. A parenting agreement will contain language about legal and physical custody. Owning property together without the benefit of marriage often leads to a couple having to go to civil court to sell or divide the property. Family law mediation keeps you out of court.

Choose Family Law Mediation

When unmarried couples separate, the best process to resolve their issues and reach an agreement is to utilize a family law mediator. A family law mediator has the skills and expertise to help you separate in an amicable and affordable way and avoid the high cost of litigation. If you have any questions, contact us at Maya Murphy, P.C. at (203) 221-3100.

Our firm in Westport, Connecticut serves clients all over the state, including the towns of Ansonia, Beacon Falls, Bethany, Bethel, Branford, Bridgeport, Brookfield, Cheshire, Danbury, Darien, Derby, East Haven, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Guilford, Hamden, Madison, Meriden, Middlebury, Milford, Monroe, Naugatuck, New Canaan, New Fairfield, New Haven, Newton, North Branford, North Haven, Norwalk, Orange, Oxford, Prospect, Redding, Ridgefield, Seymour, Shelton, Sherman, Southbury, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Wallingford, Waterbury, West Haven, Weston, Westport, Wilton, and Woodbridge.

Divorce is Like a Fingerprint – Unique

Your Divorce is as Unique As You Are

Every divorce is like a fingerprint – unique. So, make sure you’re getting advice that’s right for your own situation. Couples want to make money side of things as smooth as possible during this bumpy time. Connecticut follows the principle of equitable distribution, which aims to divide assets fairly, though not necessarily equally. Factors to consider in an equitable division of assets are length of the marriage, each spouse’s financial and non-financial contributions, and financial needs to name a few.

Top Ten Tips to Prepare Financially for Divorce

  1. Seek Legal Support: Consult a divorce lawyer in Connecticut to guide you through the legal steps and explain your rights.
  2. Gather Financial Papers: Collect financial documents like tax returns, pay stubs, and bank statements.
  3. Understand Marital Property vs. Separate Property: Understand what assets are shared and acquired during marriage and those seen as separate such as assets owned before the marriage. Separate property can also be inheritance and gifts.
  4. Value Your Assets: Determine the value of your home, cars, possessions, and investments for a fair division of marital assets. Accurate valuations are crucial.
  5. Spousal Support: If one spouse earns more, the other spouse might be entitled to support support (alimony). The duration (term) and amount of alimony depend on many factors including length of the marriage, income, age, and education.
  6. Children and Child Support: Decide on custody of children, child support, and where the children will live. Work out a parenting arrangement that includes decision making and sharing time with the children.
  7.  Plan Your Finances: Make a budget to manage expenses after divorce. Two households cost more than one.
  8. Handle Debts: Sort out who’s responsible for debts acquired during the marriage and how to distribute these liabilities such as car loans and credit cards.
  9. Seek Professional Advice: Financial advisors, accountants, and lawyers can advise you based on your unique situation and tailored to your needs.
  10. Mediation and not Litigation. Negotiate your asset division through divorce mediation or collaborative divorce. Mediation can result in a more amicable outcome.

 Other Things to Consider In Your Divorce

  1. Update Important Documents. After the divorce, change names on insurance, retirement accounts, and relevant papers. Prepare a new Last Will and Testament.
  2. Future Financial Needs: Consider your post-divorce financial needs, including housing and daily expenses. Ensure your settlement supports your financial stability.
  3. Children’s Interests: The well-being of children is a priority. Consider their housing needs, education, and overall comfort.
  4. Tax Implications: Be aware of the tax consequences of asset division. Certain assets might have tax implications when transferred or sold.
  5. Retirement Accounts: Splitting retirement accounts requires specific legal documents like a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). Understand how this process works and make sure the QDRO is prepared soon after the divorce is final.
  6. Non-Financial Contributions: Consider non-financial contributions made by each spouse during the marriage. These include staying home to raise children, sacrificing a career to support the other spouse’s career, and relocating for your spouse’s new job.
  7. Liquid vs. Non-Liquid Assets: Differentiate between liquid assets which easily convert to cash and non-liquid assets such as real estate which takes time to sell.
  8. Long-Term Impact: Think about how the asset division will impact your financial situation in the long run. Make decisions that set you up for a stable future.
  9. Documentation: Request a certified copy of your divorce judgment and divorce agreement. Keep records of all financial information and communication related to asset division. This can be helpful in case of disputes.

Remember that every divorce is unique, so the best approach may vary based on your individual circumstances. It’s important to consult an attorney who specializes in divorce and family law and divorce related financial matters to ensure you make informed decisions.

If you have any questions about divorce and how to prepare for divorce, contact Maya Murphy, P.C. at (203)221-3100 or email or We offer free consultations to discuss your family law, custody, or divorce matter. Our office is located in Westport, Connecticut. We services the following areas: Westport, Norwalk, Greenwich, Stamford, Easton, Weston, Darien, Southport, Fairfield, Stratford, Milford, New Haven, New Canaan, Trumbull, Wilton, and Ridgefield.

Non-Adversarial Divorce in Connecticut

Non-Adversarial Options For Couples Thinking About Divorce

A non-adversarial divorce in Connecticut is a process that aims to minimize conflict and promote cooperation between the parties. The goal of a non-adversarial divorce is to reach an agreement without the cost and hostility of an adversarial, litigious divorce. Couples work together to resolve issues such as property division, custody, support, and alimony without extensive litigation or courtroom battles.

Non-adversarial divorce options include:

Collaborative Divorce: In a collaborative divorce, spouses and their attorneys commit to resolving the divorce without going to court.  Working together in a series of four-way meetings saves time and legal fees. In these meetings the couple and their respective lawyers negotiate a settlement agreeable to both parties. The parties and their lawyers sign a collaborative agreement that neither party will litigate. Everyone involved in a collaborative approach agrees that staying out of court is in everyone’s best interest.

Mediated Divorce: In a mediated divorce, an impartial third party, known as a divorce mediator, assists the couple in reaching agreements and settling their issues. The mediator facilitates discussions and helps spouses find common ground.

Uncontested Divorce: An uncontested divorce occurs when spouses agree on all terms of the divorce without the need for litigation. In certain cases, the couple can file a joint divorce petition and a settlement agreement with the court. The parties need to meet certain criteria to file a non-adversarial joint petition. If you want to know whether you qualify for a non-adversarial joint petition, ask a family law attorney or divorce mediator.

Limited Scope Representation When You Need Help With A Specific Issue or Family Law Matter

With limited scope representation, a lawyer provides legal assistance only for specific aspects of the divorce process. An individual or couple may need a lawyer just to review documents or advise them on a narrow issue. Limited scope representation allows the parties to keep costs down and retain control over their divorce and still receive legal guidance in their divorce.

The Advantages of Non-Adversarial Divorce

Non-adversarial divorces have several advantages. The advantages of a non-adversarial divorce are reduced stress, lower costs, faster resolution, and a greater focus on preserving relationships which is important when children are involved. It is important to note that these approaches to divorce might not be suitable for all situations, especially if there are complex legal or emotional issues.  Before pursuing a non-adversarial divorce, both spouses should consult with an experienced family and divorce law professional to understand their rights, responsibilities, and the best approach for their unique circumstances.

If you have any questions about the different types of non-adversarial divorce in Connecticut, please contact Maya Murphy, P.C. at (203) 221-3100 or email We offer free consultations with all of our skilled legal professionals. Call today to schedule your free consultation.

Shared Legal and Physical Custody Is Becoming More Popular

 Judges Are Finding that Shared Custody is In the Best Interests of Children

More parents are agreeing to shared custody when they divorce. Under Connecticut law, there is a presumption that joint legal custody is in the best interests of the children. Legal custody means both parents make important decisions about their children together. The law can be found in Connecticut General Statutes 46b-56a(b).  In exceptional circumstances, such as physical abuse or substance abuse, sole legal custody may be awarded. The term physical custody means where the children primarily live. There was a time when one parent, usually the mother, had primary physical custody. The other parent, usually the father, would have parenting time with the children. Now there is a trend toward the children living with both parents. It is now more common to see expanded parenting plans. In these cases, the parents share both legal and physical custody of their children. The children will live with both parents according to a parenting arrangement in the divorce agreement.

What Factors Do Judges Consider When Awarding Shared Legal and Shared Physical Custody

  1. Do the parents live in close proximity to each other making it easier to transport the child to school without a lengthy care ride for example.
  2. Ability for the parties to co-parent – consistent if not similar rules in each house makes transition back and forth easier. However children can adapt to different rules in each parent’s home.
  3. A judge will consider how the parents treat each other and communicate – are they able to be civil and work together. Conflict between the parents is unhealthy for the children.  A shared custodial arrangement takes cooperation, mutual support and respect.
  4. Child’s preference – as the child gets older, their preference is more considered. This does not mean that children get to decide the custodial arrangement. The child’s preference is just one factor to consider.
  5. Stability in each home environment. A judge is going to evaluate each parent’s home to ensure the children will be safe, secure, and well taken care of. The well-being of the children is always paramount.
  6. Does the child have special needs and how will those needs be met and handled in each household.

Movement Toward Shared Physical Custody and Shared Parenting

There appears to be a movement towards the presumption of shared physical custody as well as shared legal custody. The courts need to look at all factors to ensure the parenting plan is in the best interests of the child. In most divorce matters, the parents have either a shared or very expanded parenting plan. This trend shows that parents can work together and communicate. The well-being of their children is always the priority. When parents work with a divorce mediator, they can be creative with their parenting plans. Parents maintain control over the parenting arrangement rather than letting a judge decide. When both parents work, the parenting schedule must be flexible. Cooperation is key when work demands require a parent to change the schedule at the last minute. In the end, the parenting schedule has to meet the needs of the children and both parents for it to succeed.

Best Interests of the Children

The phrase “best interests of the child” is the key factor when creating a parenting plan or parenting schedule. When parents live farther apart or one parent lives out of state, the parties have to work out a more creative parenting schedule. In these cases, a shared parenting schedule might not be possible. One parent might have more vacation time like school holidays and time in the summer. Courts encourage parental involvement and advise the parties to work together to share their children in the best way possible. Remember, these are your children. Connecticut courts are making it increasingly difficult for one parent to control a parenting schedule for financial gain. For example, to avoid child support because of a sharing parenting arrangement. Parental alienation and using children to “get back” at the other parent is not tolerated by the court. The courts expect parents to focus on their children which can be facilitated by working with a skilled divorce mediator.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to a divorce mediator, or one of our other skilled professionals about child custody, shared legal custody, and shared physical custody or any other family law or divorce related matter, please don’t hesitate to contact Maya Murphy, P.C. at (203) 221 – 3100 or via email at Our firm offers free consultations to discuss your child custody, divorce or other family matter.



Paying for College Under Connecticut Law

Parents Can Agree or a Court Will Decide 

Under Connecticut law, parents going through a divorce have to think ahead about paying for college. Although a concern for all parents, there must be language in a divorce agreement about paying for college. This can be difficult especially if you have young children and no savings. The thought of paying for college is stressful. The divorce agreement will include a provision that clearly states each parent’s financial responsibility to pay college costs. Parents can decide on their own how to pay for college. Parents can also work with a divorce mediator who helps them reach an agreement about paying for college. If parents cannot agree, the couple will go have to go to court and let a judge decide. There are rules and restrictions on how much a court can order a parent to pay.

An overview of Connecticut General Statutes 46b-56c and Educational Support Orders

Connecticut General Statute 46b-56c contains the rules and restrictions a court must follow when deciding how much each parent must pay for college. The court then enters what is called an educational support order. An educational support order covers tuition, room and board, books, and other expenses. When deciding whether to issue an educational support order, the court will consider several factors. These factors include the cost of college, the parents’ income and financial resources. Financial aid, scholarships, and grants are also considered. Connecticut law allows for a modification of an educational support order if there is a substantial change in circumstances like a parent losing a job or becoming ill. The law also limits the amount each parent has to pay based on the current in state tuition at the University of Connecticut.

Parents’ Contributions

The court may order one or both parents to contribute to the college expenses of their child. The order might include a requirement for payment of tuition, room and board, and other necessary expenses related to the child’s education. Parents might share equally or one parent might pay more because they have a higher income or more assets. The court’s order should be reasonable based on the parents’ financial ability to pay.

Work with a Divorce Mediator

Divorce mediation is an affordable and less adversarial way to reach an agreement on paying for college. A divorce mediator will help the parents create their own agreement rather than take their chances in court with a judge. Divorce mediators offer guidance so you can understand what the laws in Connecticut say about paying for college. A mediator cannot render an opinion on either parent’s obligation but can educate the couple on existing laws.

Letting a Court Decide is a Gamble

When deciding if you and your spouse can afford to pay for college, a judge will focus more on the child’s best interests and not necessarily the best interests of the parents. Most parents want their child to go to college, but cannot always afford it. With the rising costs of tuition, paying for college can be difficult. If you’re negotiating an educational support order in a divorce, it’s recommended to consult with an attorney who specializes in divorce and family law. Seeking advice from a divorce attorney is important to navigate this process properly. A divorce attorney will provide you with the most accurate and up-to-date legal advice based on your individual circumstances and the current laws in Connecticut.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to a family law attorney, divorce attorney, divorce mediator, or one of our other skilled professionals, please don’t hesitate to contact Maya Murphy, P.C. at (203) 221 – 3100 or via email at firm offers free consultations in person or video conference to discuss paying for college in your divorce, and all other family law and divorce law matters.