Posts tagged with "fault"

Considering Fault in a “No-Fault” Jurisdiction

During an initial telephone call or divorce consultation, prospective clients often ask whether Connecticut is in fact a no-fault jurisdiction.  People typically equate that concept with the idea that marital property will automatically be divided equally, with each party receiving fifty percent.  Although Connecticut is indeed a no-fault jurisdiction, one should not presume that, regardless of the circumstances giving rise to the dissolution, each party will necessarily receive fifty percent of the marital estate.

To be sure, there are several recognized grounds for a dissolution of marriage, many of which constitute the common understanding of “fault.” As set forth in Connecticut General Statutes § 46b-40, a Court may consider causes such as:

  1. adultery
  2. fraudulent contract;
  3. willful desertion;
  4. habitual intemperance; and
  5. intolerable cruelty.

If proven, a finding of fault may impact orders regarding property division and/or financial awards.

Connecticut is often referred to as a no-fault jurisdiction because a Court may dissolve a marriage simply because it has broken down irretrievably.  Although this provision allows couples to get divorced without proving fault on the part of either party, it does not mean the causes for the breakdown of the marriage, if there are any, are always irrelevant.  It simply means that a Court is not required to find fault before it dissolves a marriage.  Posada v. Posada, 179 Conn. 568 (1980).  This allows parties to obtain a divorce without exposing their private affairs in a public forum.

Importantly, even if a Court specifies that a dissolution is predicated on an “irretrievable breakdown” in the relationship, it is not precluded from considering causes when entering orders regarding property division and/or when making financial awards. Sweet v. Sweet, 190 Conn. 657 (1983).   Indeed, under C.G.S.A. §46b-81, the Court must consider the causes for the dissolution of marriage in fashioning orders regarding property division, and under C.G.S.A. §46b-82, must consider the causes for the dissolution in fashioning alimony orders.

As each matrimonial case presents its own unique circumstances, it is very important to understand the parameters of the factors set forth above, and the degree to which Courts will consider fault in a particular case.  It is also important to understand how to present such circumstances in an effective and meaningful way.  Should you have any questions regarding your own case, please do not hesitate to contact our office.  If you have questions regarding fault and no-fault jurisdictions, or any family law matter contact Joseph Maya at 203-221-3100 or by email at JMaya@MayaLaw.com.

Is Fault for the Breakdown of a Marriage Relevant in a ‘No Fault’ Divorce in Connecticut?

Fault is relevant in a no fault divorce action in Connecticut.  In dividing marital assets, the court will consider a number of different factors, including the length of the marriage, the parties’ occupations, their health and age, among other things.  One such factor is the “causes for the annulment, dissolution of the marriage or legal separation.”  Courts will likewise consider the causes for the dissolution of the marriage when awarding alimony.  Accordingly, if one spouse is at fault (or more at fault) for the breakdown of the marriage, due to his or her infidelity for example, the court may choose to award fewer assets or less alimony to the spouse whose infidelity caused the marriage to fail.

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

Alimony Alert- September 9, 2011

On July, 11, 2011, following trial in a Stamford based dissolution action, Judge Wenzel awarded the defendant wife both periodic and lump sum alimony. Pursuant to Judge Wenzel’s orders, the plaintiff husband is obligated to pay to his now ex-wife $3,000.00 per month for a period of three years (from August 1, 2011 through July 31, 2014). With respect to lump sum alimony, the plaintiff must pay his ex-wife $100,000.00 in four equal installments of $25,000.00. The payments are to be made on August 15, 2011, December 15, 2011, April 15, 2012 and August 15, 2012.

The Court found that the parties were married on May 30, 2007 in Westport, Connecticut. The husband is an attorney, and when the parties married, earned over $300,000.00 per year. In 2008, he received a total of $537,000.00 in income which included a substantial severance package. Since 2008 he had been working forty hours per week as a temporary attorney earning approximately $75.00 per hour. The defendant wife was employed in the advertising industry for 31 years, but was terminated just before the parties’ marriage. During the marriage, however, she worked in publishing and advertising. The court did not make a finding as to the defendant’s actual earnings or earning capacity except to the extent that it noted she earned far less than the plaintiff. At the time of trial, the defendant was unemployed and receiving unemployment compensation in the amount of $2,150.00 per month. Each party has two children from previous marriages, but none from their marriage to one another.

In fashioning its alimony award, the Court noted that it considered the factors set forth in Connecticut General Statutes §46b-82. Although it did not state which of those factors it relied upon, it appears the Court did not assign fault to either party. The Court did note, however, that although the defendant has an earning potential, it is far more limited than that of the plaintiff, and she has far fewer resources to rely upon. The Court further stated that its periodic alimony award is meant to help the defendant rehabilitate both in terms of her job skills as well as her physical and emotional condition.

Alimony Alerts are prepared by Michael D. DeMeola of Maya Murphy, P.C.

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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.

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In Dissolution of Marriage Action, Court Orders Both an Allocated and Unallocated Alimony Award

In a recent dissolution of marriage action, the Court ordered a husband to pay to his wife unallocated alimony and child support for a period of two and one-half years, followed by allocated alimony and child support for a period of six years. The parties originally met in 1998 and were married for 13 years. They were the parents of two children, both of whom were minors at the time of trial. The parties blamed each other for the breakdown of the marriage, with the wife accusing the husband of engaging in verbally and physically abusive behavior, and the husband accusing the wife of being unfaithful. Despite the parties’ accusations, the Court ultimately found that neither was at greater fault for the marital breakdown.

At the time of trial, the wife was forty-one years of age. She had suffered from asthma for approximately three years and also had heart spasms, though neither condition prevented her from working. During the marriage, she earned between $30,000 and $40,000 per year until the birth of the parties’ second child. According to the wife, at that point, the husband asked her to cut back so she could care for the children. Based on her earnings history, the Court found the wife had an earning capacity of $40,000 per year.

The husband was fifty-two years of age and generally in good health. At one point during the marriage he earned approximately $100,000 per year as a car salesman. However, at the time of trial he was working as a general manager at a local dealership earning $211,120 gross annually, or $4,060 gross per week.

Based on its findings, the Court awarded the wife unallocated alimony and child support in the amount of $1,000 per week for a period of two and one-half years, followed by periodic alimony in the amount of $250 per week for a period of six years, and child support in the amount of $500 per week until the parties’ children graduate from high school, or attain the age of 19, whichever occurs first. The Court designated both the unallocated award and the allocated periodic alimony as non-modifiable as to duration, and also allowed the wife a safe harbor, permitting her to earn up to $40,000 per year before the husband could seek a downward modification to his alimony obligation.

Should you have any questions regarding matrimonial matters, please do not hesitate to contact Michael D. DeMeola, Esq. He can be reached by telephone 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.

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In Recent Divorce Action, Court Awards Wife 30% of Husband’s Income Over $85,000

In a recent divorce action, the Superior Court of Waterbury rendered a decision awarding a wife $250.00 per week in alimony, plus thirty percent of the husband’s income over $85,000.00. The parties were married in 2004, and were the parents of two minor children. At the time of trial the wife was forty-one years of age, was in generally good health, and possessed both a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree. During the marriage she had been employed as an administrator, and was currently earning just under $50,000.00 per year based on a thirty-two hour work week.

The Husband was forty-three years of age, was in generally good health, and possessed a bachelor’s degree. He had been employed as an administrator for a relocation company for several years. Although his annual salary was $85,000.00 per year, at various times he also received a bonus.

With respect the cause of the breakdown of the marriage, the wife claimed that the parties disagreed about household responsibilities and child care, that the husband was not responsive to her needs, and that she was unappreciated. The wife also testified that she was devastated upon learning of the husband’s affair. The husband, on the other hand, claimed that parties lacked communication for at least two years, that he was not appreciated for his contributions, and that the wife was overly tied to her family. The court found the wife’s claims to be more credible, although it appears it ultimately did not assign fault to either party.

In its written memorandum of decision, the court ordered the husband to pay the wife child support in the amount of $260.00 per week, as well as periodic alimony of $250.00 per week for a period of five years. As additional periodic alimony, the court ordered the husband to pay the wife 30% of any gross earned income received in excess of $85,000.00 per year.

Should you have any questions regarding alimony, 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.

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