Posts tagged with "minor children"

What Has The Guardian Been Doing? GAL Disclosure in Divorce Proceedings

In contested child custody matters, it is common for a court to appoint a Guardian ad litem to represent the interests of minor children for that particular lawsuit or proceeding. While Guardians ad litem (or “GAL’s”) are often attorneys, they are less frequently psychologists, social workers, or other individuals with experience representing children’s interests. The GAL’s duty is to speak on behalf of the “best interests” of the child, without necessarily being bound by a child’s expressed preferences, even when those preferences conflict with the perceived “best interests” of the child.

By contrast, a lawyer advocate for a minor child in a custody proceeding, referred to in many jurisdictions as an Attorney for the Minor Child(ren) (or AMC), is just that: a lawyer who is appointed and charged with vigilantly representing and advocating for his or her clients’ interests, including those positions which are expressed to the lawyer in the context of privileged attorney-client communications.

The fact that a GAL – who may, in fact, be a lawyer – does not enjoy the same attorney-client privilege with the minor children he or she represents creates certain significant issues with respect to discovery and document disclosure in the context of custody litigation.

In a recent decision on an issue of first impression, a Connecticut Superior Court determined that an attorney GAL’s entire file (including correspondence, emails, and handwritten notes) be disclosed to the parties over the objection of that GAL, who asserted the protections of the attorney-client privilege and work product doctrine.

The net effect of that Court’s determination is essentially to permit parents (litigants) who are understandably concerned about the position, progress, and considerable impact of a GAL’s opinion on his or her custody claim, to gain unfettered access to a GAL’s file regardless of that person’s status as an attorney. In custody cases where a GAL may ultimately testify as a witness and opine to a court regarding a minor child’s “best interests,” a preview of that GAL’s work product and interview notes may prove invaluable.

Attorneys armed with both experience and an understanding of applicable case law can best advise our divorce clients regarding custody evaluations, GAL involvement, and overall trial strategy.

Any questions about this posting or confidential inquiries concerning the subject matter may be directed to Attorney H. Daniel Murphy at hdmurphy@mayalaw.com.
________________________________________________________________________________
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.

Keywords: divorce attorney ct, divorce attorneys in ct, divorce attorneys ct, divorce attorney Connecticut, Connecticut divorce attorney, divorce attorney, divorce attorneys NYC, ct lawyers, Connecticut family attorney, divorce lawyer in ct, free divorce consultation, free consultation family law, divorce in ct, free consultation family law, Connecticut divorce lawyer, divorce attorney for men, divorce attorney for women, free divorce attorney, divorce lawyers in ct, ct divorce laws, ct divorce attorney, family law firm, divorce attorney Fairfield, attorneys in Connecticut, family law office, ct divorce mediation, best divorce attorney in ct, lawyers in ct, uncontested divorce, divorce lawyer nyc, Connecticut divorce laws, best divorce attorney, divorce attorney Hartford, new haven divorce attorney, divorce, lawyer, attorney, law firm ct, law office, legal advice in ct, ct divorce attorneys, family attorney, domestic violence rights, Connecticut, marital property rights, CT divorce mediation, legal separation Connecticut, child custody laws, child support litigation, contested, uncontested, annulments, alimony, mediator, spouse, spousal support law, asset division, visitation right, premarital agreements, prenup, prenuptial agreement, prenup NY, restraining orders, appeals, custody modifications, legal separation CT, prenup in CT, custody in CT, filing divorce in CT, filing, lawyers, attorneys, family law in CT, family in NY, Connecticut divorce attorney, divorce law NY, matrimonial law CT, custody NY, child custody CT, property division in CT, dissolution of marriage in CT, marriage, divorce NY, New York divorce, visitation in CT, visitation rights in CT, post marital agreements, divorce law firm CT, divorce law firm NY

Continue Reading

College Expenses and Divorce

Going through a divorce is often a very emotional and overwhelming experience, often complicated by motions, discovery, court appearances and negotiations. By the end of the mandatory “cooling off” or pendente lite phase (Latin for “while the action is pending”), one may find himself or herself confused and eager to resolve the case. When considering the terms of a potential divorce settlement involving minor children, it is very important to keep future college expenses in mind. If overlooked, it may be very difficult or impossible to obtain contribution from a former spouse for books, tuition and/or living expenses should your child choose to attend college. There are various ways this issue can be addressed, and for a complete understanding, some fundamental information is useful.

Generally speaking, a divorce is typically resolved in one of two ways. The first is utilized when, despite efforts to come to a fair resolution, the parties are unable to agree on custody, visitation, child support, alimony, and/or the division of assets. When one or more of those aspects of the divorce remain in dispute, a trial will be necessary to obtain a final judgment. After hearing evidence and considering each party’s case, the Court will decide the terms of the divorce and enter orders accordingly. However, where parties are able to reach an agreement, the Court may rely on the terms of that agreement and enter orders in accordance therewith. Regardless of which avenue is taken, final court orders must ultimately be entered to formalize the dissolution of the marriage and define the terms of the divorce.

Though a divorce becomes “final” upon judgment, often orders require modification due to changes in circumstances which occur after the marriage is officially dissolved. Examples include modifying child support and/or alimony due to a change in one or both parties’ financial circumstances, or modifying custody or visitation due to changes in the characteristics of the parties’ home, work schedules or living conditions. Other times, it is necessary to add orders that simply were not ripe for adjudication at the time the divorce was obtained. Orders entered after a divorce becomes final are referred to as “post judgment” orders.

In Connecticut, educational support orders are governed by Connecticut General Statutes Section 46b-56c. This statute authorizes the Courts to enter orders defining how the parties will handle their children’s “necessary educational expenses.” By statute, necessary educational expenses include room, board, dues, tuition, fees, registration and application costs up to the amount charged by the University of Connecticut for a full-time, in-state student at the time the child registers. That being said, parents can agree to increase the limit beyond the amount charged by the University of Connecticut if they choose. The educational support order may include the cost of books and medical insurance for the child as well. An educational support order is limited to four full academic years at an institution of higher education or a private occupational school for the purpose of obtaining a bachelors or other type of undergraduate degree, or vocational instruction.

Educational support may be handled at the time of the divorce or post judgment. When handled at the time of the divorce, the parties simply include in their separation agreement a provision outlining in detail how they will divide necessary educational expenses. As children are often young during the divorce and the parties’ circumstances at the time the child will be ready to attend college are unforeseeable, this issue is not always ripe for consideration at the time of the dissolution. In such cases, the parties may wish to defer the issue until the child is older. It is very important to note that if the parties choose to do so, they must include in their separation agreement a provision expressly requesting that the Court retain jurisdiction over this issue. If the parties fail to do so, the Court will not allow either party to request its involvement in the future.

Assuming the parties request that the Court retain jurisdiction over educational support, either may come back to Court at the appropriate time to request a post judgment educational support order. Once the post judgment action is commenced- as with the divorce itself- the parties may resolve the issue by agreement or request a hearing. Important to note is that whether the order is entered at the time of the divorce or post judgment, the Court must find that it is more likely than not the parents would have provided support to the child for higher education or private occupational school if the family remained intact. The parties may stipulate to this fact in an agreement. If a post judgment hearing is required, the Court will make that determination and by considering specific evidence including the parents’ income and assets, the reasonableness of the higher education considering the child’s academic record and financial resources available, as well as the child’s preparation for, aptitude for and commitment to higher education.

Attorney DeMeola in 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.
________________________________________________________________________________
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.

Keywords: divorce attorney ct, divorce attorneys in ct, divorce attorneys ct, divorce attorney Connecticut, Connecticut divorce attorney, divorce attorney, divorce attorneys NYC, ct lawyers, Connecticut family attorney, divorce lawyer in ct, free divorce consultation, free consultation family law, divorce in ct, free consultation family law, Connecticut divorce lawyer, divorce attorney for men, divorce attorney for women, free divorce attorney, divorce lawyers in ct, ct divorce laws, ct divorce attorney, family law firm, divorce attorney Fairfield, attorneys in Connecticut, family law office, ct divorce mediation, best divorce attorney in ct, lawyers in ct, uncontested divorce, divorce lawyer nyc, Connecticut divorce laws, best divorce attorney, divorce attorney Hartford, new haven divorce attorney, divorce, lawyer, attorney, law firm ct, law office, legal advice in ct, ct divorce attorneys, family attorney, domestic violence rights, Connecticut, marital property rights, CT divorce mediation, legal separation Connecticut, child custody laws, child support litigation, contested, uncontested, annulments, alimony, mediator, spouse, spousal support law, asset division, visitation right, premarital agreements, prenup, prenuptial agreement, prenup NY, restraining orders, appeals, custody modifications, legal separation CT, prenup in CT, custody in CT, filing divorce in CT, filing, lawyers, attorneys, family law in CT, family in NY, Connecticut divorce attorney, divorce law NY, matrimonial law CT, custody NY, child custody CT, property division in CT, dissolution of marriage in CT, marriage, divorce NY, New York divorce, visitation in CT, visitation rights in CT, post marital agreements, divorce law firm CT, divorce law firm NY

Continue Reading

Court Enters 10 Year Alimony Award in Wilton Divorce

In Brush v. Brush, Superior Court, Judicial District of Stamford-Norwalk at Stamford, Docket No. FA104019594S (Dec. 15, 2011, Shay, J.), the plaintiff wife and the defendant husband were married for approximately 21 years, and were the parents of two minor children. During the divorce, the children- ages ten and fifteen- resided in the marital home in Wilton, Connecticut pursuant to a bird nesting arrangement which the parties agreed upon as part of a parenting plan.

At the time of the divorce, the wife was 47 years old, and suffered from various medical conditions, from chronic Lyme Disease to depression and anxiety. She held a Bachelor of Science degree in Fashion Design and Resource Management, and prior to the parties’ marriage, worked in the clothing industry in Connecticut, New York, Maine and Massachusetts. The Court found that the wife was a very talented designer and seamstress who at one point during the marriage developed and fabricated her own line of children’s clothing. After two years, however, the wife closed her business when it became apparent that it would not be profitable. At the time of the divorce, she was a full-time homemaker.

The husband was 46 years old, and held a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology as well as a Masters degree in Industrial and Labor Relations. He described his health as “good,” although he told the court that he took medication for a hereditary thyroid condition as well as for high blood pressure. He also suffered from occasional stress, but indicated that none of the conditions adversely affected his ability to work. The Court noted that the husband worked for a variety of corporations in Kansas, Texas, Ohio and New York. At the time of the divorce proceedings, he was Chief Human Resources Officer and his annual base salary was $242,000.00 plus an annual bonus, an automobile allowance, and certain non-cash benefits including stock options.

With respect to the cause of the breakdown of the marriage, the parties cited various factors including different parenting styles, lack of intimacy, loss of interest in each other, personality conflicts and different approaches to personal finances. The Court ultimately found that both parties contributed to the breakdown of their relationship. Regarding finances, the Court found that the husband’s net income was $4,403.00 per week, and the wife had no income.

With respect to support, the Court ordered that commencing the first day of the first month following the husband’s vacation of the marital home, but no later than March 1, 2012, and monthly thereafter, the husband shall pay to the wife 35% of his gross cash compensation from employment as and for unallocated, periodic alimony and child support, until the death of either party, the remarriage of the wife, the entry into a civil union by the wife, or December 31, 2022, whichever shall sooner occur. The Court designated the term of alimony as non-modifiable, and granted the wife a safe harbor up to $40,000 per year. However, the Court also capped the wife’s alimony at 35% of the husband’s income up to $400,000 per year.

Should you have any questions relating to alimony or divorce proceedings, please feel free to contact Michael D. DeMeola, Esq. by telephone at (203) 221-3100 or by e-mail at mdemeola@mayalaw.com.
________________________________________________________________________________
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.

Keywords: divorce attorney ct, divorce attorneys in ct, divorce attorneys ct, divorce attorney Connecticut, Connecticut divorce attorney, divorce attorney, divorce attorneys NYC, ct lawyers, Connecticut family attorney, divorce lawyer in ct, free divorce consultation, free consultation family law, divorce in ct, free consultation family law, Connecticut divorce lawyer, divorce attorney for men, divorce attorney for women, free divorce attorney, divorce lawyers in ct, ct divorce laws, ct divorce attorney, family law firm, divorce attorney Fairfield, attorneys in Connecticut, family law office, ct divorce mediation, best divorce attorney in ct, lawyers in ct, uncontested divorce, divorce lawyer nyc, Connecticut divorce laws, best divorce attorney, divorce attorney Hartford, new haven divorce attorney, divorce, lawyer, attorney, law firm ct, law office, legal advice in ct, ct divorce attorneys, family attorney, domestic violence rights, Connecticut, marital property rights, CT divorce mediation, legal separation Connecticut, child custody laws, child support litigation, contested, uncontested, annulments, alimony, mediator, spouse, spousal support law, asset division, visitation right, premarital agreements, prenup, prenuptial agreement, prenup NY, restraining orders, appeals, custody modifications, legal separation CT, prenup in CT, custody in CT, filing divorce in CT, filing, lawyers, attorneys, family law in CT, family in NY, Connecticut divorce attorney, divorce law NY, matrimonial law CT, custody NY, child custody CT, property division in CT, dissolution of marriage in CT, marriage, divorce NY, New York divorce, visitation in CT, visitation rights in CT, post marital agreements, divorce law firm CT, divorce law firm NY

Continue Reading

Court Enters Fifteen Year Unallocated Alimony and Support Award in Recent Dissolution of Marriage Action

In a relatively recent dissolution of marriage action pending in the Judicial District of Fairfield at Bridgeport, the Court awarded the wife unallocated alimony and support in the amount of $6,000 per month for a period of ten years, followed by $3,000 per month for a period of five years. Married in 1993, the parties were the parents of four minor children. The husband was employed in the insurance industry throughout the marriage, and during the two years leading up to the parties’ dissolution, owned his own insurance company. The court found that the husband’s earning capacity increased steadily throughout the marriage to approximately $200,000 at the time of trial. This included earned income, commissions and other unearned income.

The wife’s work history was brief, and occurred mostly before the parties’ had children. Though she was primarily responsible for raising the children, at the time of trial, she had returned to school and was in the process of obtaining an associate’s degree. The parties’ primary asset was the marital home, which, according to the Court, had a value of approximately $600,000.

Based on its findings, the Court ordered the husband to pay to the wife the sum of $6,000 as unallocated alimony and child support for a period of ten years, followed by $3,000 per month for a period of five years. The Court limited the duration of alimony, which was otherwise non-modifiable, upon the wife’s remarriage, the death of either party, or the wife’s cohabitation. The Court also ordered that if the marital home was sold, the husband’s alimony obligation would increase to $7,500 per month for the first ten years and $3,750 for the following five years.

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.
________________________________________________________________________________
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.

Keywords: divorce attorney ct, divorce attorneys in ct, divorce attorneys ct, divorce attorney Connecticut, Connecticut divorce attorney, divorce attorney, divorce attorneys NYC, ct lawyers, Connecticut family attorney, divorce lawyer in ct, free divorce consultation, free consultation family law, divorce in ct, free consultation family law, Connecticut divorce lawyer, divorce attorney for men, divorce attorney for women, free divorce attorney, divorce lawyers in ct, ct divorce laws, ct divorce attorney, family law firm, divorce attorney Fairfield, attorneys in Connecticut, family law office, ct divorce mediation, best divorce attorney in ct, lawyers in ct, uncontested divorce, divorce lawyer nyc, Connecticut divorce laws, best divorce attorney, divorce attorney Hartford, new haven divorce attorney, divorce, lawyer, attorney, law firm ct, law office, legal advice in ct, ct divorce attorneys, family attorney, domestic violence rights, Connecticut, marital property rights, CT divorce mediation, legal separation Connecticut, child custody laws, child support litigation, contested, uncontested, annulments, alimony, mediator, spouse, spousal support law, asset division, visitation right, premarital agreements, prenup, prenuptial agreement, prenup NY, restraining orders, appeals, custody modifications, legal separation CT, prenup in CT, custody in CT, filing divorce in CT, filing, lawyers, attorneys, family law in CT, family in NY, Connecticut divorce attorney, divorce law NY, matrimonial law CT, custody NY, child custody CT, property division in CT, dissolution of marriage in CT, marriage, divorce NY, New York divorce, visitation in CT, visitation rights in CT, post marital agreements, divorce law firm CT, divorce law firm NY

Continue Reading

Parenting Education Programs Pass Constitutional Muster

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.

The Connecticut legislature was concerned with the impact of divorce on minor children, and as such passed a statute allowing the Judicial Department to establish parenting education programs in actions seeking dissolution of marriage. General Statutes § 46b-69b, which came into effect in January 1994, provided the courts tools to implement courses designed “to educate parents… on the impact on children of the restructuring of families.” Parents had to take part in such a program only once within sixty days of the filing for dissolution of marriage, but participation could be waived by the court.

In a recent case heard by the Supreme Court of Connecticut, a pro se defendant contested the constitutionality of § 46b-69b, claiming his substantive due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution were violated. After the defendant’s wife filed for divorce, the defendant filed a motion for exemption from the parenting education program, claiming the state impermissibly infringed on “a parent’s fundamental right to exercise case, control, and custody over his or her child.” He further argued that the state lacked a compelling interest to issue an automatic order requiring participation in the program. The trial court denied the motion and upheld the statute, and the defendant appealed.

After the Court addressed a threshold question of mootness, it moved on to the defendant’s substantive due process claim. The Court needed to determine the level of review to apply, which depended on whether a fundamental right was involved. The Court agreed that strict scrutiny applies when the state interferes with a parent’s decision-making authority with respect to their children. Indeed, there is substantial state and federal case law on this point. However, the statute in question in this case did not infringe on a parent’s decision power – rather, it sought to educate and provide information. As the Court stated:

It is clear from the text of the statute that the purpose of the course is to educate parents and provide them with information aimed at lessening the adverse impact on children that may result from the restructuring of the family. … [W]hat the parents choose to do with the information is entirely up to them. … [N]othing in the statute requires parents to change the way that they care for their children; nothing in the statute authorizes the state to deprive parents of control or custody of their children.

Dutkiewicz v. Dutkiewicz, 289 Conn. 362, 380 (2008). Furthermore, children were not directed to participate in the program as well. Because a fundamental right was not implicated, the Court stated rational basis review applied. As long as the purported violation of a right can be “rationally related to a legitimate government purpose,” the law will be upheld. Such review is satisfied “so long as there is a plausible policy reason for the classification.” In this case, the Court determined that rational basis review was satisfied because the law was rationally related to the state’s legitimate interest in promoting the welfare of children. Therefore, the Court affirmed judgment.

Should you have questions regarding matrimonial matters, 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.
________________________________________________________________________________
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.

Keywords: divorce attorney ct, divorce attorneys in ct, divorce attorneys ct, divorce attorney Connecticut, Connecticut divorce attorney, divorce attorney, divorce attorneys NYC, ct lawyers, Connecticut family attorney, divorce lawyer in ct, free divorce consultation, free consultation family law, divorce in ct, free consultation family law, Connecticut divorce lawyer, divorce attorney for men, divorce attorney for women, free divorce attorney, divorce lawyers in ct, ct divorce laws, ct divorce attorney, family law firm, divorce attorney Fairfield, attorneys in Connecticut, family law office, ct divorce mediation, best divorce attorney in ct, lawyers in ct, uncontested divorce, divorce lawyer nyc, Connecticut divorce laws, best divorce attorney, divorce attorney Hartford, new haven divorce attorney, divorce, lawyer, attorney, law firm ct, law office, legal advice in ct, ct divorce attorneys, family attorney, domestic violence rights, Connecticut, marital property rights, CT divorce mediation, legal separation Connecticut, child custody laws, child support litigation, contested, uncontested, annulments, alimony, mediator, spouse, spousal support law, asset division, visitation right, premarital agreements, prenup, prenuptial agreement, prenup NY, restraining orders, appeals, custody modifications, legal separation CT, prenup in CT, custody in CT, filing divorce in CT, filing, lawyers, attorneys, family law in CT, family in NY, Connecticut divorce attorney, divorce law NY, matrimonial law CT, custody NY, child custody CT, property division in CT, dissolution of marriage in CT, marriage, divorce NY, New York divorce, visitation in CT, visitation rights in CT, post marital agreements, divorce law firm CT, divorce law firm NY

Continue Reading

Lower Mortgage Rates, Without More, Do Not Constitute Substantial Change in Circumstances

In a recent post-judgment divorce action, the Superior Court of Connecticut, Judicial District of Stamford-Norwalk at Stamford considered a defendant’s argument that the plaintiff had a substantial change in circumstances due to her new residence in a lower cost of living area.

In this case, the plaintiff wife and defendant husband were the parents of three minor children and divorced in May 1999. Over the course of the next seven years, the parties stipulated to various modification agreements and amendments, which included one provision that the husband would pay the wife $8,000 per month in unallocated alimony and child support. In August 2006, the wife wished to relocate to North Carolina with the children and the parties entered a stipulation agreement. However, in October 2007, the husband sought a post-judgment motion to modify the unallocated alimony and child support by half. He argued that the wife had a substantial change in circumstances, since she had lower mortgage payments on her home in North Carolina. The husband further argued that one of their minor children had reached the age of majority, so the wife had one less child to support on a daily basis.

The court considered the financial affidavits of both parties and declined to find any significant change in income or expenses. It noted that lower mortgage rates on their own are insufficient to support a finding of a substantial change in circumstances, but agreed that modification was warranted because their eldest son was now an adult attending college. Therefore, the court reduced the unallocated alimony and child support payment to $7,000 per month.

Whether advancing or defending a post-judgment motion regarding awards of alimony, assignment of property, and child support, a divorced individual is best served by consulting with an experienced family law practitioner. Should you have questions regarding matrimonial matters, 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.
________________________________________________________________________________
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.

Keywords: divorce attorney ct, divorce attorneys in ct, divorce attorneys ct, divorce attorney Connecticut, Connecticut divorce attorney, divorce attorney, divorce attorneys NYC, ct lawyers, Connecticut family attorney, divorce lawyer in ct, free divorce consultation, free consultation family law, divorce in ct, free consultation family law, Connecticut divorce lawyer, divorce attorney for men, divorce attorney for women, free divorce attorney, divorce lawyers in ct, ct divorce laws, ct divorce attorney, family law firm, divorce attorney Fairfield, attorneys in Connecticut, family law office, ct divorce mediation, best divorce attorney in ct, lawyers in ct, uncontested divorce, divorce lawyer nyc, Connecticut divorce laws, best divorce attorney, divorce attorney Hartford, new haven divorce attorney, divorce, lawyer, attorney, law firm ct, law office, legal advice in ct, ct divorce attorneys, family attorney, domestic violence rights, Connecticut, marital property rights, CT divorce mediation, legal separation Connecticut, child custody laws, child support litigation, contested, uncontested, annulments, alimony, mediator, spouse, spousal support law, asset division, visitation right, premarital agreements, prenup, prenuptial agreement, prenup NY, restraining orders, appeals, custody modifications, legal separation CT, prenup in CT, custody in CT, filing divorce in CT, filing, lawyers, attorneys, family law in CT, family in NY, Connecticut divorce attorney, divorce law NY, matrimonial law CT, custody NY, child custody CT, property division in CT, dissolution of marriage in CT, marriage, divorce NY, New York divorce, visitation in CT, visitation rights in CT, post marital agreements, divorce law firm CT, divorce law firm NY

Continue Reading

Consideration of Statutory Factors Not Required for Relocation Orders Made at Time Marriage is Dissolved

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.

Recently, the Appellate Court of Connecticut considered, in part, whether the trial court improperly failed to apply relocation statutory provisions in an initial dissolution action. The judgment was affirmed in its entirety.

In this case, the plaintiff mother and defendant father were married for seven years, lived in Ridgefield, and had two minor children. The mother filed for divorce, and a pendente lite order was issued permitting her to relocate with their children to the Farmington area, finding this was in the children’s best interests. Approximately seven months later, the trial court dissolved the marriage, but then ordered that the children reside with the father. The court stated that the move to Farmington was not in the best interests of the children, and it was necessary for them to live in the Ridgefield area.

The mother first contended that it was improper for the court not to treat the pendente lite custody order as res judicata, or “a matter [already] judged.” However, the Appellate Court declined to review this claim. Appellate courts will not consider claimed errors unless the issue was raised at trial and ruled upon by the trial court adversely to the claimant’s position. Therefore, in this case, because the mother did not raise this claim in front of the trial court, she could not do so for the first time on appeal.

When a court considers a motion seeking relocation, it turns the three-part inquiry under General Statutes § 46b-56d: whether the relocation is for a legitimate purpose, to a reasonable location, and in the best interests of the children. Subsection (b) lists five non-exclusive factors a court shall consider in weighing the children’s best interests. In this case, the mother argued that the trial court did not properly apply these factors when it found it was in the best interests to relocate the children back to Ridgefield. The Appellate Court stated that § 46b-56d covers post-judgment motions to relocate, and neither case law nor legislative intent indicated that the factors also applied to relocation matters resolved at the time of the initial judgment for dissolution of the marriage. This case involved a relocation decision rendered when the marriage was dissolved, so consideration of the § 46b-56d factors was not mandatory or exclusive.

The Appellate Court found ample evidence in support of the trial court’s determination that relocation back to Ridgefield was in the children’s best interests. This included the inordinate amount of time the children spent commuting to visit their father and the insincere claim by the mother that she was supporting a strong relationship between the father and their children. Additional evidence included the mother’s unilateral actions regarding the move itself and changing the children’s pediatricians without consulting the father. The court noted that the children thrived in Ridgefield prior to the move. It was reasonable to determine that it was not in the children’s best interests to allow them to remain in Farmington. Therefore, the trial court did not abuse its discretion.

Whether advancing or defending a motion seeking custody, visitation, and child support, a divorced parent is best served by consulting with an experienced family law practitioner. Should you have questions regarding matrimonial matters, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya in the firm’s Westport office in Fairfield County at 203-221-3100 or JMaya@mayalaw.com.
________________________________________________________________________________
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.

Keywords: divorce attorney ct, divorce attorneys in ct, divorce attorneys ct, divorce attorney Connecticut, Connecticut divorce attorney, divorce attorney, divorce attorneys NYC, ct lawyers, Connecticut family attorney, divorce lawyer in ct, free divorce consultation, free consultation family law, divorce in ct, free consultation family law, Connecticut divorce lawyer, divorce attorney for men, divorce attorney for women, free divorce attorney, divorce lawyers in ct, ct divorce laws, ct divorce attorney, family law firm, divorce attorney Fairfield, attorneys in Connecticut, family law office, ct divorce mediation, best divorce attorney in ct, lawyers in ct, uncontested divorce, divorce lawyer nyc, Connecticut divorce laws, best divorce attorney, divorce attorney Hartford, new haven divorce attorney, divorce, lawyer, attorney, law firm ct, law office, legal advice in ct, ct divorce attorneys, family attorney, domestic violence rights, Connecticut, marital property rights, CT divorce mediation, legal separation Connecticut, child custody laws, child support litigation, contested, uncontested, annulments, alimony, mediator, spouse, spousal support law, asset division, visitation right, premarital agreements, prenup, prenuptial agreement, prenup NY, restraining orders, appeals, custody modifications, legal separation CT, prenup in CT, custody in CT, filing divorce in CT, filing, lawyers, attorneys, family law in CT, family in NY, Connecticut divorce attorney, divorce law NY, matrimonial law CT, custody NY, child custody CT, property division in CT, dissolution of marriage in CT, marriage, divorce NY, New York divorce, visitation in CT, visitation rights in CT, post marital agreements, divorce law firm CT, divorce law firm NY

Continue Reading

Mother Permitted to Relocate to Belgium with Minor Children

In a recent decision rendered in the Superior Court for the Judicial District of Litchfield, a mother was permitted to relocate with her children to Denmark. By way of background, the parties obtained a divorce in 2008, and are the parents of three minor children. The mother is a Belgian citizen, and in furtherance of her petition, claimed that a) she intended to remarry in Denmark and b) it would be in the children’s best interest to complete their secondary education in Europe.

Following a hearing, the court found that throughout the marriage the mother stayed home to care for the children, while the father traveled. After the parties’ divorce, the father only visited the children once per month. The Court found the visits to be inadequate as the father would rent a single room, and as the children grew older and it became inappropriate for all three to stay overnight, one would have to return home during the visitation. Additionally, more recently, the parties’ daughter stopped communicating with the father altogether after learning that he remarried without telling the children. Importantly, the court also found that the family lived in Europe for two years during the marriage, that the children are bilingual, that the children lived with the mother in Belgium for a period of time following the parties’ divorce, and that the children actually attended school in Denmark and Belgium for a period of time.

The court ultimately found that the proposed relocation was for a legitimate purpose, that the proposed location was reasonable in light of that purpose, and that the relocation was in the best interests of the children. More specifically, the court found that the mother’s desire to remarry constituted a legitimate purpose for the proposed move, and that her knowledge and experience dealing with the school system in Denmark enabled her to determine that the children would benefit from receiving an education there. The Court also relied upon its finding that there exists a close bond between both the mother and the children, and amongst the siblings, while the relationship between the children and their father is strained. In support of its decision, the court also noted that the children have already become accustomed to seeing their father relatively infrequently.

Should you have any questions regarding issues pertaining to relocation, or matrimonial matters in general, 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.
________________________________________________________________________________
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.

Keywords: divorce lawyer, divorce, lawyer, attorney, law firm, law office, legal advice, bankruptcy, CT divorce attorney, domestic violence rights, Connecticut, Connecticut divorce lawyers, marital property rights, CT divorce mediation, legal separation Connecticut, child custody laws, child support litigation, contested, uncontested, annulments, alimony, mediator, spouse, spousal support law, asset division, visitation right, premarital agreements, prenup, prenuptial agreement, prenup NY, restraining orders, appeals, custody modifications, legal separation CT, prenup CT, custody CT, filing divorce, filing, new, new haven, lawyers, attorneys, family law, family, Connecticut divorce attorney, divorce law, matrimonial law, custody, child custody CT, property division, dissolution of marriage, marriage, divorce NY, New York divorce, best divorce lawyer, visitation, visitation rights, post marital agreements, divorce law firm

Continue Reading

“Nonmodifiable,” Unallocated Support Award Deemed Modifiable Upon a Change of Primary Residence

In a decision rendered earlier this year, the Connecticut Supreme Court held that child support orders may be modified upon a change in primary residence, even where a separation agreement contains language expressly precluding such modification. In this particular case, the parties are the parents of two minor children. Following their divorce, the children lived with the mother on a primary basis. With respect to financial support, the parties’ separation agreement provided that the husband would pay unallocated periodic alimony and child support to the mother for a designated period of time. The agreement further provided that the unallocated support would be nonmodifiable as to both amount and term. Notably, the agreement did not permit modification upon a change in primary residence of the children.

At some point after the dissolution, the parties agreed to transfer primary physical custody of the children to the father. Shortly thereafter, the father filed a motion to modify the unallocated alimony and child support award based on the change in primary residence. The mother opposed the motion, however, claiming that the parties’ separation agreement expressly precluded modification.

At the trial court level, the father testified that since the children moved into his home on a primary basis, he had been covering additional expenses including cellular telephone bills, extra-curricular activities, entertainment and transportation for the children. Although neither party presented evidence to suggest that the children’s needs were not being met, and despite the aforementioned language precluding modification, the court held that the unallocated order was modifiable. When the Connecticut Appellate Court disagreed, the father appealed to the Connecticut Supreme Court.

The Connecticut Supreme Court concluded that where primary physical custody is transferred from a child support recipient to a child support payor, a provision precluding modification of an unallocated financial award does not in fact prevent modification of the child support component. In reaching its decision, the Court relied primarily on C.G.S. § 46b-224, which essentially provides that whenever the Superior Court orders a change in custody of children who are the subject of preexisting support orders, such change in custody shall operate to suspend the support order if custody is transferred to the child support obligor, or modify the designated payee of the support order to be the person awarded guardianship or custody. In other words, as the Court explained, “if the obligor becomes the new primary custodial parent, the obligor is no longer required to pay child support to the former custodian.” Tomlinson v. Tomlinson, 305 Conn. 529 (2012). The Court further articulated, “…the originally designated payee who no longer has custody of the child does not continue to receive support payments following the change in custody, and the payments are retained by or redirected to the party who does have custody.” Id. The Court further held that C.G.S. § 46b-224 operates automatically regardless of the terms of a separation agreement.

Should you have any questions regarding child support modifications, or divorce related 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.
________________________________________________________________________________
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.

Keywords: divorce lawyer, divorce, lawyer, attorney, law firm, law office, legal advice, bankruptcy, CT divorce attorney, domestic violence rights, Connecticut, Connecticut divorce lawyers, marital property rights, CT divorce mediation, legal separation Connecticut, child custody laws, child support litigation, contested, uncontested, annulments, alimony, mediator, spouse, spousal support law, asset division, visitation right, premarital agreements, prenup, prenuptial agreement, prenup NY, restraining orders, appeals, custody modifications, legal separation CT, prenup CT, custody CT, filing divorce, filing, new, new haven, lawyers, attorneys, family law, family, Connecticut divorce attorney, divorce law, matrimonial law, custody, child custody CT, property division, dissolution of marriage, marriage, divorce NY, New York divorce, best divorce lawyer, visitation, visitation rights, post marital agreements, divorce law firm

Continue Reading