Posts tagged with "child support"

Special Education Law – Relevant Terms

Within the realm of Special Education Law there are several relative terms one should be familiar with. Below are some of these key terms.

Applied Behavior Analysis (“ABA”):

An intensive, structured teaching program in which behaviors to be taught are broken down into simple elements. Each element is taught using repeated trials where the child is presented with a stimulus; correct responses and behaviors are rewarded with positive reinforcement, while when incorrect responses occur, they are ignored and appropriate responses are prompted and rewarded.

Alternative Assessment:

The use of assessment strategies, such as performance assessment and portfolios, to replace (or supplement) the assessment of a special education student by standard machine-scored multiple-choice tests.

Assistive Technology:

Refers to any piece of equipment, product, system, or other item that is used to increase, maintain or improve the functional capabilities of an individual with a disability.

Behavior Intervention Plan (“BIP”):

Refers to a plan, strategies, program or curricular modifications, and supplementary aids and supports, which are positive in nature (not punitive) and are developed by the PPT to teach a child appropriate behaviors and minimize behaviors that impede learning.

Extended School Year (“ESY”):

This refers to special education and related services that a school provides to a student beyond the normal school year and/or the normal school day, at no additional cost to parents, in accordance with the child’s IEP.

Free Appropriate Public Education (“FAPE”):

Each special education student is entitled to a free, appropriate public education. It is defined as special education and related services that are provided at public expense and under public supervision and direction, without charge to the student. “Related services” include, but are not limited to, transportation, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech pathology, and psychological services, among others.

A special education student’s FAPE must meet state and federal requirements, and be provided in accordance with the child’s IEP. In Connecticut, children must be provided a FAPE from age three through the end of the school year in which the child reaches the age of twenty-one (or until the child has graduated from high school with a regular diploma, whichever is first to occur).

Functional Behavior Assessment (“FBA”):

Refers to an assessment of the reasons why a child behaves the way he or she does, given the nature of the child and what is happening in the environment. It describes a process for collecting data to determine the possible causes behind certain behaviors in order to identify strategies to address those behaviors.


Refers to the decision that a child is eligible for special education services.

Independent Educational Evaluation (“IEE”):

Refers to an evaluation of a special education student performed by a professional who is not employed by the school district. If you disagree with the PPT’s evaluation of your child, you may request an independent educational evaluation. The school district must either pay for the cost of the IEE, or prove to a due process hearing officer that its own PPT evaluation is in fact appropriate. Of course, parents may obtain an IEE for their child at their own expense at any time. When presented with the results of the IEE, the PPT must consider the findings, but is not bound to adopt them.

Individualized Education Plan (“IEP”):

This refers to a written education program developed for an individual child with a disability. It is developed by a multi-disciplinary team of school professionals and the child’s parents and is reviewed and updated at least once per school year. The IEP describes the child’s present performance and learning needs, as well as detailing which services will be necessary at what time, for how long, and by whom those services will be provided.

Least Restrictive Environment (“LRE”):

A child with a disability must, to the maximum appropriate extent, be educated with children who are not disabled, in a general education class in the school that the child would attend if he or she did not have a disability requiring special education services. A child with a disability should not be removed from the general educational setting unless the nature and severity of that child’s disability is such that education in the general class with the use of supplemental aids and services cannot be satisfactorily achieved.

Manifestation Determination:

If a school seeks to change the placement of a child with a disability because that child behaved in a way that violated the school’s code of conduct, then a “manifest determination” must be made, to determine whether the behavior complained of is caused by the child’s disability.

Positive Behavior Supports (“PBS”):

Refers to an approach to addressing challenging behaviors, and includes: functional assessment of the behavior; organizing the environment; teaching skills; rewarding positive behaviors; anticipating situations; and redesigning interventions as necessary.

Planning and Placement Team (“PPT”):

Refers to a group of professionals who represent each of the teaching, administrative and pupil personnel staffs at a special education student’s school, and who, with the student’s parents, are equal participants in the decision-making process to determine the specific educational needs of the student. The PPT, along with the parents, develops, reviews and revises a student’s IEP; the PPT also reviews referrals to special education, determines if the child needs to be evaluated, decides what evaluations the child will have, and determines whether the child is eligible for special education services.

Stay Put:

Refers to the requirement that a special education student must stay in his or her current program or placement during the course of a due process hearing. This provision may be modified upon agreement by both the parent and the school district.

The attorneys of Maya Murphy P.C. are well practiced in the realm of Special Education Law. Should you have questions regarding Special Education Law matters, contact managing partner Joseph C. Maya at 203-221-3100 or at for a free initial consultation.

Can I Obtain Alimony or Child Support While My Divorce Is Pending in Connecticut?

A spouse may obtain alimony and child support while a divorce action is pending, which can be requested by filing a motion with the court.  The court has the authority to make temporary orders for the payment of child support and alimony while the case is ongoing.  These orders may be modified, if there is a substantial change in the financial resources or income of one of the parties, such as a loss of employment, requiring a change in the alimony or support orders.

If you have any questions related divorce or alimony and child support in Connecticut, please contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq. at (203) 221-3100 or e-mail him directly at

How is a High-End Divorce Different from a Regular Divorce?

High-End Divorces vs. Lower Asset Divorces

In many ways high-end divorces and lower asset divorces are very similar. Basically, a divorce involves child custody, property division, and alimony. But, there are various factors that complicate a high-end divorce. When spouses have a high net worth, own a business, or own significant assets, property division becomes much more difficult and complex. Often, individuals with large assets own various investment properties, residences, and/or corporations which hold that property. Unlike with a lower income divorce, these assets are much more difficult to divide appropriately and distribute.

It is also important to mention that with many couples, one spouse has significant assets tied to his or her career or passed down from his or her family. In many cases, a complete financial analysis may require that these assets be considered in arriving to an equitable settlement. Our attorneys make sure that a full and complete inventory of all assets of the clients is prepared, including cash, checking accounts, savings and money-market accounts, Children’s Bank Accounts, retirement accounts, non-retirement investment accounts, client debts, deferred pay-raises or bonuses, etc.

Assets in High-End Divorces

Unfortunately, in high-end divorces assets have tendency to disappear once the divorce proceedings have commenced, and it is vital that an attorney working with a high net worth client have knowledge of finance and tax laws in addition to legal knowledge in order to be able to discover these hidden assets, present a full and complete financial picture of the couple and most importantly, address concerns such as future payments of alimony, “maintenance” of the lifestyle a non-working spouse is accustomed to, disparity of income and others.

Our own experience illustrates that financial planning is a means of reaching a more equitable divorce settlement. In essence, analyzing the marriage as if it were a financial contract when it comes to division of property makes it possible to achieve best possible results for our clients.

High-End Divorce Services

To reduce stress levels and to ensure that your assets are protected, an attorney of Maya Murphy will provide you with the following services for your high-end divorce:

  • Valuation of your business: Before dividing up assets, the full and fair value of the business must be determined. A high-end divorce attorney will work with business valuation experts to evaluate accounts receivable, debt, and business assets.
  • Investigation of hidden assets: In a high-end divorce, there is the potential for one of the parties to hide assets. An investigation is often needed to determine if any stocks, mutual funds, insurance policies, bonds, and unreported income have been held back.
  • Negotiation of alimony agreement: When one spouse is financially dependent on the other, he or she may require help securing a fair alimony agreement for life after the divorce.
  • Division of stock options: Many high-income families in Pennsylvania have vested stock options that will have to be divided up during the divorce. It is necessary not only to divide up the stock options but also to determine who will pay taxes on the stocks.

These are just some of the many services that one of Maya Murphy’s high-end divorce attorneys will provide you with to help complete your divorce efficiently and in your favor. If you are in the middle of a divorce, or even if you are contemplating a divorce, it is critical to have a fair and accurate assessment of your assets. Contact an experienced high-end divorce attorney who will work diligently to protect your rights and best interests. Call Maya Murphy today at 203-222-MAYA or email at

How Long Can I Be Incarcerated for Contempt of Court in a Divorce Case for Failure to Pay Support?

Incarceration depends on what the contempt involves and the specific facts of your case.  Every state has a strong interest in ensuring that child support is paid and may impose strict punishments for failure to comply with a court order for child support.  If a judge finds contempt for separate issues, such as failure to pay child support and failure to pay alimony, then the judge may impose jail time for each instance until you comply with the support.  If you cannot comply with the support order because your finances have changes since the order was issued, you may modify the order.

Please contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq. at (203) 221-3100 or e-mail him directly at if you have any questions regarding divorce or family law in Connecticut.

What Is a Parenting Plan in Connecticut?

A parenting plan is an agreement between the parties to a divorce action that sets out how the children will be taken care and how they will co-parent their children following a divorce.  Parenting plans include a plan for custody and visitation, as well as a schedule for holiday and vacation time.

If you have any questions related to divorce or parenting plans in Connecticut, please contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq. at (203) 221-3100 or e-mail him directly at

How Do I Get Child Support from Someone Who Is a Subcontractor?

Obtaining child support may be a complicated task if you do not know the name of the company employing the person you are seeking child support from.  If the court has not ordered support, you may go to court and obtain an order.  Once you have obtained a court order, if the subcontractor still has not paid support you may file a petition to show cause.  This will hold the subcontractor accountable to the court.

This may be overwhelming without the assistance of an attorney.  If you have any questions related to family law or obtaining child support in Connecticut, please contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq. at (203) 221-3100 or e-mail him directly at

Court Decides Issue of First Impression Regarding Payment of College Expenses

In a recent decision, a Connecticut Superior Court addressed an issue of first impression regarding the payment of college expenses, namely whether the Connecticut Superior Courts have the authority to enter an educational support order for a child that has reached the age of majority when entering a child support order for a minor child.  The parties in this particular case were married in Chile and had two children before obtaining a divorce (also in Chile) in 1991.  The Chilean divorce decree did not contain any provisions regarding child support or the payment of college expenses.

The parties subsequently moved to the United States, and in February 2012, the children’s mother filed a motion requesting that the father pay child support for their minor son and also contribute toward the cost of their older daughter’s college expenses.  When the mother filed the motion, the parties’ son was fourteen and the parties’ daughter was eighteen.

Educational Support Orders

Generally speaking, C.G.S.A. 46b-56c authorizes a court to issue an educational support order requiring a parent to provide support for a child or children to attend for up to a total of four full academic years an institution of higher education or a private occupational school for the purpose of attaining a bachelor’s or other undergraduate degree, or other appropriate vocational instruction.  The statute provides that a court, on motion or petition of a parent, may enter an educational support order at the time of entering: a decree of dissolution, legal separation or annulment; an order for support pendente lite; a support order where parents of a minor child live separately; or a judgment of paternity.

However, the statute also provides that, “On motion or petition of a parent, the court may enter an educational support order at the time of entering an order pursuant to any other provision of the general statutes authorizing the court to make an order of support for a child…” As the Court in this case explained, at any of those points, “[a]n educational support order may be entered with respect to any child who has not attained twenty-three years of age . . .”

The Court’s Decision

In the aforementioned case, the Court held that the provisions of §46b-56c clearly provide that an educational support order may be entered with respect to any child who has not attained twenty-three years of age at the time the court enters an order of support pursuant to any provision of the General Statutes.  According to the Court, nothing in the plain language of §46b-56c requires that the educational support order be issued for the same child for whom the support order is being entered.

Additionally, nothing in the statutory language suggests that the court’s authority to enter an educational support order for a child that has reached the age of majority is limited in cases where a parent’s younger child qualifies for support.

Litigants should be aware of the fact that the foregoing decision is persuasive (as opposed to binding authority) at best, and contains facts that may distinguish the case from their own.  Indeed, it is important to have a comprehensive understanding of the statutes and case law governing the payment of college expenses, particularly because parties are generally precluded from seeking post judgment orders regarding college expenses unless the court specifically retains jurisdiction over the issue during the final dissolution hearing.

Should you have any questions regarding educational support orders, or divorce matters in general, please feel free to contact Joseph Maya.  He can be reached in the firm’s Westport office at (203) 221-3100 or by e-mail at

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.

The Divorce

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.

The Court’s Decision

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 Joseph Maya, Esq.  He can be reached in the firm’s Westport office at (203) 221-3100 or by e-mail at

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

In a 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.

The Trial

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

Court Rules it Has Authority to Award Child Support and Alimony Even if Parties are Living Together

In a dissolution action in the Stamford Superior Court, Judge Tierney ruled on what appears to be an issue of first impression regarding pendente lite child support and alimony.  In Peterson v. Peterson, Superior Court, Judicial District of Stamford, Docket No. FSTFA094015636S (Sept. 21, 2011, Tierney, J.), the parties were married on May 23, 1985, in Salt Lake City, Utah.  They are both in their early fifties and are both in good health.  The wife is a Program Administrator earning $3,287 per month, and the husband is a lawyer who, at one time, earned approximately $500,000 annually, plus bonuses.

Despite the fact that the parties continued residing in the marital home during the pendency of the action, the Wife requested unallocated alimony and child support in the amount of $6,500.00 per month.  The court framed the principal issue as follows: “Does the Superior Court have the authority to enter pendente lite alimony and child support orders when the parties are residing together?”

Determining Pendente Lite Alimony 

Generally speaking, in determining pendente lite alimony and child support, one must consider the factors set forth in Connecticut General Statutes §§ 46b-83 and 46b-84.  With respect to pendente lite child support, those factors include the respective abilities of the parents to provide such maintenance, as well as the age, health, station, occupation, earning capacity, amount and sources of income, estate, vocational skills and employability of each of the parents, and the age, health, station, occupation, educational status and expectation, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate and needs of the child.

With respect to pendente lite alimony, the court must consider the length of the marriage, the age, health, station, occupation, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate and needs of each of the parties, and, in the case of a parent to whom the custody of minor children has been awarded, the desirability of such parent’s securing employment.

The Court’s Findings

After setting forth case law precedent and relevant legislative developments, the Court in Peterson found that §§ 46b-83 and 46b-84 are silent as to whether the parties must live separate and apart in order for the Court to enter pendente lite alimony and child support orders.  Indeed, as the Court explained, “Nowhere in these statutes does there exist any requirement that the parties live separate and apart as a condition of a pendente lite alimony order.”  Id.

The court further found that older decisions citing “abandoned” and “living apart” as conditions of pendente lite alimony have been rejected decisions that do not mention either phrase.  Thus, Judge Tierney ultimately held that there is no current statutory or case law authority to support the proposition that parties must be living apart in order for the Court to enter pendente lite alimony or child support, and, therefore, the Superior Court has the authority to enter such orders even when the two parties continue to reside together.

If you have any questions regarding child support, or any family law matter please contact Joseph Maya at 203-221-3100 or by email at