Posts tagged with "parenting plan"

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 JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

What Is a ‘Legal Separation’ in Connecticut?

A legal separation is a status that affects the legal rights and obligations spouses have toward each other without formally ending the marriage.  A court decree of legal separation has many of the same effects as a divorce; assets and liabilities will be divided and, if there are children involved, a parenting plan will be implemented as in a divorce proceeding.  Legally separated spouses are freed from most legal obligations, and give up most legal rights, to each other but remain legally married.  Accordingly, neither spouse can remarry without first having the separation decree converted into one for divorce.

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

What Is a ‘Legal Separation’ in Connecticut?

A legal separation is a status that affects the legal rights and obligations spouses have toward each other without formally ending the marriage.  A court decree of legal separation has many of the same effects as a divorce; assets and liabilities will be divided and, if there are children involved, a parenting plan will be implemented as in a divorce proceeding.  Legally separated spouses are freed from most legal obligations, and give up most legal rights, to each other but remain legally married.  Accordingly, neither spouse can remarry without first having the separation decree converted into one for divorce.

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

When Tug-of-War is Not a Game: Relocation After Divorce

Lawyers often find ourselves telling clients that their divorce is never truly “final” when there are children involved. Regrettably, many of the symptoms that bring spouses to our offices in the first place –the arguing, the conflict, certain confines and restrictions – may continue to exist on some level even after the lawyers have done their jobs and a judge signs a final judgment, especially when the divorcing parents are now entrusted with the responsibility to co-parent young children, from different homes, and from new perspectives.

Nowhere is that more evident than in cases where one spouse seeks to relocate with the minor children to a new state – perhaps hundreds of miles away from his or her former spouse, and his or her former life.

Developments in the law even in the past few years have refined the processes and legal burdens for spouses seeking to take their children to another location, perhaps to be closer to extended family or a support network, nearer to a new job or opportunity, or for other economic reasons.

The legal burden in Connecticut now rests squarely upon the parent seeking a relocation to prove to a court (assuming the other parent objects to the move) that the relocation of the children is for a legitimate purpose, that the relocation is reasonably related to achieving that purpose, and that the move and resulting transplantation is truly in the best interests of the minor child or children of the marriage.

In reaching its determination, a court will likely hear evidence from each parent, relevant witnesses and/or healthcare professionals or experts, and likely a court-appointed guardian to represent the child’s interests in such a proceeding. Among other things, a court shall consider each parent’s reasons for seeking or opposing the relocation, the relationship each parent has with the subject child or children, any potential enhancement that the relocation might have on the child’s life or development, the feasibility of visitation or maintained contact between the non-relocating parent and the child notwithstanding the geographic shift, and the impact the relocation would have on the relationship between the child and the parent who might be left behind.

These types of post-judgment proceedings are often painful for both litigants and are driven by facts as much as the law – facts which could and often do have nothing whatever to do with the underlying reasons for the divorce itself. A parent involved in a post-judgment relocation dispute in Connecticut must prepare for a contentious legal battle where personal convictions, risk tolerance, and emotions can and will be tested.

We advise clients in these cases not merely to weigh their legal options, but to evaluate and assess the best interests of their children who are innocently caught in perhaps the cruelest game of tug-of-war imaginable. We prepare our clients and assist them in structuring their case for the most favorable presentation of facts and evidence to support their legal position. Those considering or faced with the specter of a relocation petition should retain counsel who are both well-versed in the law and attuned to the reality and repercussions that litigation brings to children’s lives – sometimes years after the ink has dried on a divorce decree.

Any questions about this posting or confidential inquiries concerning the subject matter, may be directed to 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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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.
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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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Divorce Co-Mediation: Less Fighting, Better Results, and Lower Fees

by H. Daniel Murphy, Esq.

You have taken the difficult step of recognizing that a marriage will no longer work – or perhaps you have been served with divorce papers by your spouse. A world of uncertainty awaits, with questions like:

“What will I do now?”

“Do I need a lawyer?”

“Can we both afford lawyers?”

“How ugly will this get?”

“What will happen with the children?”

“What if I want to retire?”

“What will I have to pay?” or “What will I receive?”

“How long will this take?”

“Will I have to testify in court?”

Or perhaps…

“Is there another way?

There IS another way. As an alternative to the traditional divorce model – with dueling attorneys, depositions, motions, court appearances, and skyrocketing costs – many individuals are now turning to private mediation as a means to obtain a divorce judgment. Mediation is an informal process in which a neutral third party – sometimes a lawyer, sometimes a therapist or counselor – acts as a sounding board and helps the parties identify and resolve their disputes.

Mediation can often be effective, although in many instances one party or the other might feel as though he or she has “won” or “lost” the mediation, gaining some perceived empathy from the mediator because of some similarity or identification with that person. In those cases, the parties’ mutual selection of a mediator may have served to alienate one party or another, with feelings that he or she has selected the “wrong” person to resolve the dispute. For this reason, the parties should meet with the proposed mediator together, to gain a comfort level with the mediator at the same time, and to familiarize themselves with the mediator’s style, approach, and objectives.

To address this issue, unlike many law firms who may offer mediation services, our office provides our clients with an option to co-mediate their family law dispute. Co-mediation pairs two professionals as independently functioning neutrals to lend greater balance, identification, and equity to the mediation process. At Maya Murphy, we offer divorcing couples the option to merge the experience of a family law attorney and aggressive courtroom advocate with the expertise of a licensed, clinical psychologist. With one stop at our Westport office, divorcing couples can work with our co-mediation professional team. From the legal angle, we will identify and narrow the issues in dispute, guiding you through the court system and assisting the parties with the preparation of legally enforceable agreements on property division, child support, alimony, custody, post-secondary educational support, and all related issues. From the therapeutic and clinical perspective within that co-mediation process, we simultaneously offer the skill set of a clinical psychologist with specialization in stressors within the home, at-risk children and associated custody issues, substance abuse and anger management issues, and a keen acumen towards resolving conflict.

All of the above are provided to our co-mediation clients a fraction of the costs incurred every day by parties in conventional divorce litigation. Our co-mediation professionals will work seamlessly and tirelessly to resolve your family law disputes – efficiently, effectively, and painlessly.

For more information about our Firm’s mediation and co-mediation options, kindly contact H. Daniel Murphy at hdmurphy@mayalaw.com or at 203-221-3100.
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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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Assessing the Best Interests of the Children When Considering a Request for Relocation

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.

When a court considers a parent’s wish to relocate the children’s residence and a parenting plan will be affected, it looks to the statutory requirements of General Statutes § 46b-56d: whether the move is for a legitimate purpose, the location is legitimate in light of this purpose, and relocation is in the best interests of the children. Subsection (b) of the statute outlines five non-exclusive factors a court will consider when answering the third part of its inquiry:

  • The reasons each party opposes or seeks relocation.
  • The quality of the relationship each party has with the child.
  • The impact of relocation on the quantity and quality of the child’s future contact with the non-relocating parent.
  • The degree to which the life of the relocating parent and child is enhanced socially, economically, and educationally as a result of the relocation.
  • Whether it is feasible that the relationship between the non-relocating parent and child will be preserved.

Even if a party establishes that the purpose for and location of the move is legitimate, their request to relocate will be denied if the court finds that it is not in the best interests of the children to do so. All three statutory criteria must be satisfied.

Five years ago, the Superior Court of Connecticut, Judicial District of Stamford-Norwalk at Stamford ruled on a matter involving one parent’s request to relocate with her minor children to Vermont. That case, Frostmann v. Frostmann, 2007 Conn. Super. 3411, is particularly notable in light of the court’s careful, detailed analysis of whether the move would be in the best interests of the children.

Following dissolution of her marriage and the establishment of a parenting plan, the mother wished to relocate with her two minor children from her residence in Old Greenwich to Vermont. She explained that she grew up in Vermont and had an affinity for rural life, in stark contrast to the culture in Greenwich. The mother sought to develop farmland acreage in hopes of becoming financially independent, and even had initial engineering plans drawn up. The values and lifestyle in Vermont would not only make her happier, but also would be more suitable for her children and their needs. The mother provided a parenting plan schedule that afforded more time to the father than in the present plan, and consistently kept the father up-to-date on all major and many minor events in their children’s lives.

The father staunchly opposed the move, arguing that because the “dailiness” of involvement with his children would be disrupted, his relationship with them would be adversely affected. In addition, the father personally knew what it was like to be relocated with a parent and the attendant pain inflicted, and did not want his children to suffer the same.

The court readily found that the mother had legitimate purposes for the move, and the location was appropriate in light of these purposes. In their written opinion, the court extensively covers each of the five factors considered in assessing the best interests of the children. It first credited the reasons the mother sought relocation and the father’s relocations for opposition. The court then determined that the children had strong relationships with each parent, and that the relocation would not prove destructive to the children’s relationship with the father. It pointed to the mother’s extensive efforts to keep the father involved and informed, as well as daily phone calls when the children do not see their father.

The court admitted that the distance from the father’s home in Greenwich to Vermont was significant, just shy of 200 miles. However, a schedule could be imposed to ensure that the quantity of contact between the father and his children would remain unaffected. Considering the fourth factor, there was little dispute that the mother would be enhanced emotionally and potentially financially with the move. The children were happy with life in Vermont, and the based on testimony before the court, it believed that the children would thrive there. Finally, the court noted that it was highly feasible that the relationship between the father and his children would remain intact, referencing the mother’s proposed, and generous, parenting schedule. Her conduct proved her to be seeking to enhance the relationship between the father and children.

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.
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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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Superior Court Approves Mother’s Relocation with Minor Child to New Hampshire

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.

In a recent post-judgment divorce action, the Superior Court of Connecticut, Judicial District of Stamford-Norwalk at Stamford considered whether it was in the best interests of a minor child to permit his relocation outside of Connecticut.

In this case, the marriage of the plaintiff mother and defendant father was dissolved in August 2001. They had two children together and resided in Fairfield, though at the time of this action, only one was a minor child. The mother had sole physical custody of the minor child, and she relocated with him to New Hampshire. The mother testified that she could not afford to live in Fairfield County, and found a fully furnished home with a mortgage within her budget. She chose New Hampshire because family members lived in the vicinity of the relocation site, and the father could reasonably afford to visit the minor child. After investigating educational and recreational activities available to the minor child, the mother believed the community would provide “a wholesome and stable environment” for him. While the minor child was initially resistant to the move, he adjusted well to his new surroundings and was making “good friends and good choices.”

When a court considers relocation matters that will impact an already-existing parenting plan, it must consider whether relocation is for a legitimate purpose, to a reasonable location, and in the best interests of the child. In this case, the trial court was satisfied that the move to New Hampshire was a reasonable location and for a legitimate purpose, and it was in the younger child’s best interests to remain there. The trial court ordered that the younger child remain in New Hampshire and made numerous orders with respect to visitation with the father.

Whether advancing or defending a motion seeking child support, custody, and visitation, 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.
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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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Court Considers Economy in Relocation Case

When a custodial parent would like to relocate, and that relocation would have a significant impact on an existing parenting plan, the moving party must show that the relocation is for a legitimate purpose, the proposed location is reasonable in light of that purpose, and the relocation is in the best interests of the child(ren). C.G.S. Sec. 46b-56d(a). Further, the court should consider, but is not limited to, the following factors: a) each parent’s reasons for seeking or opposing the move; b) the quality of the relationship between the child and the custodial and noncustodial parents; c) the impact of the move on the quantity and quality of the child’s future contact with the noncustodial parent; d) the degree to which the custodial parent’s and child’s life may be enhanced economically, emotionally and educationally by the move; and e) the feasibility of preserving the relationship between the noncustodial parent and child  through suitable visitation arrangements. C.G.S. Sec. 46b-56d(a).

In light of the current state of our economy, it appears as though judges may be assigning greater weight to parties’ economic circumstances, recognizing that it is becoming increasingly  necessary for parties to move considerable distances to obtain (or retain) employment.  Just recently, the Superior Court of New Haven (Gould, J.) permitted a mother to relocate with the parties’ three minor children from Connecticut to Pennsylvania on the basis that, among other things, the move would allow her to transition back into the work force, which the mother claimed would be necessary for her to adequately support her children, and herself.

After considering the statutory criteria set forth above, the Court explained,  “Our society is an increasingly mobile one.  Largely because of the instability and unpredictability of the employment market . . . repeated, separate moves by each parent are coming to represent the norm.” (internal quotations omitted)  J. Wallerstein & T. Tanke [‘To Move or Not to Move: Psychological and Legal Considerations in the Relocation of Children Following Divorce,’ 30 Fam. L.Q. 305, 310 (1996)].   The Court continued, “Our family law should recognize that reality. Therefore, to serve the best interests of a child in a single-parent family unit, the custodial parent should be permitted to pursue, within reasonable limits, opportunities that could lead to a better life for the parent as well as the child.” (internal citations omitted).

Should you have any questions regarding this posting, please feel free to contact Attorney Michael D. DeMeola at mdemeola@mayalaw.com or by telephone at (203) 221-3100.