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Litigating Non-Compete Agreements in Connecticut

In Connecticut, the breach of an employment agreement by an employer is a recognized defense to the enforcement of a covenant not to compete. The breach must be material. For example, if the employee were promised a bonus or stock options and the employer refused to honor the promise. In order for the breach to effectively waive the non-compete restriction, the employee must timely object to the breach by the employer, otherwise the breach is waived. For more information, or to discuss an employment contract, non-compete, stock options, or bonus situation with an attorney, please contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq. at JMaya@Mayalaw.com or (203) 221-3100.

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Litigating Non-Compete Agreements in Connecticut

In Connecticut, the breach of an employment agreement by an employer is a recognized defense to the enforcement of a covenant not to compete. The breach must be material. For example, if the employee were promised a bonus or stock options and the employer refused to honor the promise. In order for the breach to effectively waive the non-compete restriction, the employee must timely object to the breach by the employer, otherwise the breach is waived. For more information, or to discuss an employment contract, non-compete, stock options, or bonus situation with an attorney, please contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq. at JMaya@Mayalaw.com or (203) 221-3100.

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Protective Orders and Domestic Violence: Full Hearings Offer Expedited Justice

Next week, the Connecticut Supreme Court will officially release an opinion holding that people accused of domestic violence crimes will be entitled to an evidentiary hearing “within a reasonable time” before a full protective order would continue to restrain them from their homes – and from their children – while criminal proceedings are ongoing. Very often, in the context of divorce proceedings, an unfortunate occurrence will result in the arrest of one spouse or the other, with the result that a party is temporarily removed from the marital residence to protect the victim (and perhaps the children) from a threat of violence. However, whereas criminal defendants were and are always entitled to the presumption of innocence as well as a full evidentiary, adversarial proceeding to determine guilt or innocence (a trial), those individuals who are removed from the home by way of a criminal protective order were often not given the same opportunity for a “hearing,” beyond the limited oral argument of a defendant’s attorney and the opposition from the State’s Attorney and the Office of the Victim’s Advocate. Now, in the matter of State v. Fernando A., (SC 18045), the Supreme Court of this state has held that our statutes do indeed afford subjects of a protective order the right to a full evidentiary hearing, with witnesses and cross examination, “within a reasonable time” – so long as the defendant’s attorney timely requests such a hearing. This mechanism will serve to insure that full protective orders are properly issued only in cases in which imminent physical harm indeed faces a spouse or children within a household. While requiring an additional expenditure of judicial resources, these hearings (for so often as they are requested and not waived by defendants), should also act to minimize those regrettable cases where spouses initiate criminal proceedings in bad faith or upon false claims, in order to gain leverage in pending or future divorce proceedings. Whether by protecting the victims of abuse or by protecting those accused of the same, adversarial evidentiary hearings are the cornerstone of our judicial system. Those in contact with the system, under any circumstances, should be confident that their legal advisors are well-versed in the law and familiar with recent case developments.

If you have any questions about this posting or confidential inquiries concerning the subject matter, please contact Attorney H. Daniel Murphy at hdmurphy@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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Relocation: A Concise Summary of Connecticut Law

If you are reading this article, chances are you are interested in relocating with your child, or, would like to prevent your spouse, or ex-spouse, from relocating with your child. The following is meant to serve as a concise explanation of the laws which govern relocation cases in the State of Connecticut. As the analysis employed during divorce proceedings is quite different than the analysis utilized in the post-judgment context, the laws governing each scenario are addressed separately.

During divorce proceedings, parties often consider moving a considerable distance apart. Unfortunately, even in cases where parents might agree to a joint custody arrangement, that distance may have a significant impact on the feasibility of regular visitation, typically impeding upon the non-custodial parent’s access to his or her children. When determining whether relocation is appropriate during a divorce proceeding, or upon final dissolution, the Court will base its decision on whether the move is in the “best interests” of the child or children. In determining the “best interests” of children the Court will consider one or more of the factors specifically enumerated in Connecticut General Statutes Section 46b-56(c). Although the following is not an exhaustive list, those factors include: 1) the temperament and developmental needs of the child; 2) the ability of the parents to understand and meet the needs of the child; 3) any relevant information obtained from the child, including the informed preferences of the child; 4) the wishes of the child’s parents as to custody; 5) the past and current interaction and relationship of the child with each parent, the child’s siblings and any other person who may significantly affect the best interests of the child; 6) the willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a continuing parent-child relationship; 7) any manipulation by or coercive behavior of the parents in an effort to involve the child in the parents’ dispute; 8 ) the ability of each parent to be actively involved in the life of the child; 9) the child’s adjustment to his or her home, school and community environments; 10) the stability of the child’s existing or proposed residences; 11) the mental and physical health of all individuals involved; 12) the child’s cultural background; and 13) the effect on the child of domestic violence which has occurred between the parents, or between a parent and another individual or the child. Notably, the Court is not required to assign any specific weight to the factors it considers.

Connecticut Courts have held that the issues which arise in cases initiated after a divorce is obtained (a post-judgment action) are considerably different than those present during divorce proceedings. In recognition of those differences, the State of Connecticut enacted Connecticut General Statutes Section 46b-56d, which governs relocation specifically in the post-judgment context. According to Section 46b-56d, where relocation would have a significant impact on an existing parenting plan, the relocating parent bears the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that 1) the relocation is for a legitimate purpose; 2) the proposed relocation is reasonable in light of such purpose; and 3) the relocation is in the best interest of the child (see analysis above). In making its determination in the post-judgment context, the Court must consider, 1) each parent’s reasons for seeking or opposing the relocation; 2) the quality of the relationships between the child and each parent; 3) the impact of the relocation on the quantity and the quality of the child’s future contact with the non-relocating parent; 4) the degree to which the relocating parent’s and the child’s life may be enhanced economically, emotionally and educationally by the relocation; and 5) the feasibility of preserving the relationship between the non-relocating parent and the child through suitable visitation arrangements.

Attorney DeMeola practices out of Maya Murphy’s Westport office. He welcomes inquiries and can be reached by telephone 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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Double Jeopardy Not Implicated in Case Where Man Purposefully Burned Down His Home to Collect Nearly $400,000 in Insurance Payments

In a recent criminal law matter, the Appellate Court of Connecticut determined that conviction for first-degree larceny and insurance fraud did not violate double jeopardy protections, or that the latter charge was a lesser-included offense of the former.

This case arose from an incident that occurred on December 15, 2002. Police responded to a fire at the defendant’s home, where investigators concluded that the fire appeared “accidental in nature,” though its origin was unknown. The defendant collected over $386,000 under his insurance policies for structural damage, debris removal, loss of personal property, and living expenses.

One year later, the home in which the defendant’s daughter lived was burglarized. Her laptop, which the defendant previously stole from his employer, was among the items taken. Police later recovered the laptop and called the daughter; when she came to collect it, police explained that the defendant claimed it was stolen. In turn, the daughter revealed that the defendant purposefully burned down their house on the night of December 15, 2005. In a sworn statement, she explained that the defendant was having financial issues and told her of his plan, asking that she help him transport items to a rental storage unit. After the fire, the defendant “was laughing at the fire investigators calling them ‘stupid… because he thought he got away with [setting the fire].”

Police reopened the investigation and obtained a search warrant for the defendant’s newly built house, where they found many items listed in the insurance claims as lost to the fire. The defendant was charged and convicted for arson in the first degree, larceny in the first degree, insurance fraud, and conspiracy. The defendant appealed, arguing, in part, that his conviction for both first-degree larceny and insurance fraud violated double jeopardy.

Under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, a criminal defendant cannot receive two punishments for two crimes, which he asserts to be a single crime, arising from the same act and prosecuted in a single trial. To be entitled to this double jeopardy protection, a criminal defendant must show that the charges arise from the same transaction or occurrence and that the charged crimes are, in fact, the same offense. If, however, the court determines that each charge requires proof of an element that the other does not, double jeopardy is typically not implicated.

In this case, the Appellate Court determined that larceny in the first degree and insurance fraud each possess unique essential elements. The former does not “require any proof as to the method or manner of obtaining the currency,” while the latter did not have a requisite dollar amount for the value of the property taken. The defendant countered that because insurance fraud is a lesser-included offense to larceny in the first degree, his constitutional rights were violated.

Even where two charges have unique elements, double jeopardy may nonetheless be implicated if the two charges are a lesser-included and greater offense. A lesser-included offense is one that must first be completed to make it possible to commit the greater offense. As an example, assault is a lesser-included offense to robbery, because every robbery includes the commission of an assault. If, however, the lesser offense need not be committed, it is not an included offense. In this case, the Appellate Court determined that insurance fraud was not a lesser included offense because the commission of larceny did not require the presentation of false, incomplete, or misleading statements in support of a fraudulent claim. Therefore, with this respect to the appeal, the Court affirmed judgment.

To see how the defendant fared on his claim that the court improperly admitted evidence, please read “Appellate Court Considers Whether Evidence of Previously-Set Fire Was Improperly Admitted in Arson Trial.”

When faced with a charge of arson, fraud, or larceny, an individual is best served by consulting with an experienced criminal law practitioner. Should you have any questions regarding criminal defense, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya in the firm’s Westport office in Fairfield County at 203-221-3100 or at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

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