Posts tagged with "relocation"

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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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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In DCF Case, Grandmother was Permitted to Relocate to North Carolina with the Minor Child

In a recent case involving the Department of Children and Families, a maternal grandmother was permitted to move with her granddaughter from Connecticut to North Carolina after successfully intervening in the matter. By way of background, the plaintiff and defendant were the parents of a thirteen year old child. Unfortunately, their relationship was filled with conflict which resulted in DCF involvement. At one point, the Department filed a neglect petition against both parents upon allegations of domestic violence, drug use, abandonment and lack of cooperation with authorities. Pursuant to a Probate Court order, the maternal grandmother was awarded temporary custody, and in a subsequent Family Court action, she was awarded sole legal and physical custody.

The grandmother later filed a motion for modification requesting that the court allow her to relocate to North Carolina with the child. In reviewing the circumstances, the court noted that the father presented as smart and well-spoken, and that it appeared he wanted his daughter to be a part of his life. However, it also noted that, historically, his visitation was sporadic and there were long periods of time when he did not see his daughter at all. The Court also found that the father blamed everyone else for his absence, and although he objected to the maternal grandmother’s motion to relocate, he failed to provide any viable proposal to support the child himself. The mother did not offer herself as an option for custody; rather she expressed agreement with the proposed relocation.

The Court found that the grandmother demonstrated a substantial change in the circumstances warranting a modification of the then current custody arrangement, namely that she was retiring to North Carolina. The Court further found that she and her husband rented an affordable apartment, that she had family support in the proposed area, that she researched the schools and was satisfied they would give the child a good education, and that as she was not employed, she would be at home full time to care for the child. The Court also found that the grandmother was willing to provide transportation so the child could see her father. The family relations investigator and guardian ad litem both supported the move, testifying that it would be in the child’s best interests. Based on the foregoing, the Court ultimately found that a change in circumstances existed, that the relocation was for a legitimate purpose, that the proposed location in North Carolina was reasonable in light of that purpose and that the relocation was in the best interests of the minor child.

Should you have any questions regarding DCF or family matters, please feel free to contact Michael D. DeMeola, Esq. He can be reached in the firm’s Westport office at (203) 221-3100 or by e-mail at mdemeola@mayalaw.com.

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Our 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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Custody and Relocation: How to Request Permission to Move with Minor Children

In the years following divorce, many custodial parents are faced with the challenge – and the associated legal hurdles – of determining whether they are permitted to relocate out of state or across the country with any minor children of the marriage. The non-custodial parent may object to the decision and the move, and if the parties cannot agree, ultimately a judge will be empowered to determine whether the relocation will be allowed. The law governing this decision is set forth in our state statutes and governing case law.

Prior to a change in the law in 2006, the parent seeking a relocation with minor children was required to prove to a court by a preponderance of the evidence that the proposed relocation was for a legitimate purpose, and, further, that the proposed relocation was reasonable in light of that purpose. Only if that burden was met by the moving party, the non-custodial parent (the parent opposed to the relocation) had the burden to demonstrate to the court that the move would not have been in the best interests of the minor child or children. Ireland v. Ireland, 246 Conn. 413, 717 A.2d 676 (1998).

This “burden-shifting” analysis adopted by the Supreme Court in the Ireland case in 1998 was replaced by our Legislature in 2006 with Public Acts 2006, No. 06-168, now set forth in General Statutes § 46b-56d. Section 46b-56d(a) now reads: (a) In any proceeding before the Superior Court arising after the entry of a judgment awarding custody of a minor child and involving the relocation of either parent with the child, where such relocating parent would have a significant impact on an existing parenting plan, the relocating parent shall bear the burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, that (1) the relocation is for a legitimate purpose, (2) the proposed location is reasonable in light of such purpose, and (3) the relocation is in the best interests of the child.

The effect of General Statutes § 46b-56d(a) is essentially to codify the three-part provisions of the Ireland rule, while at the same time relieving the party opposing relocation of its former burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, that despite the moving party’s showing that relocation is for a legitimate purpose and is reasonable in light of that purpose, the relocation nevertheless fails to be in the best interests of the child. Under today’s law, Section 46b-56d(a) now places squarely on the shoulders of the party advocating relocation the entire burden of demonstrating, by a preponderance of the evidence, not only that the relocation is for a legitimate purpose and is reasonable in light of that purpose, but also that the relocation is affirmatively in the best interests of the child.

General Statutes § 46b-56d(b) further enumerates five specific factors that our courts are now statutorily obligated to consider in determining whether to approve a parent’s request to relocate with a child. Section 46b-56d(b) reads: (b) In determining whether to approve the relocation of the child under subsection (a) of this section, the court shall consider, but such consideration shall not be limited to: (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 nonrelocating 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.

These factors were first adopted by the Ireland court from the New York Court of Appeals case of Tropea v. Tropea, 87 N.Y.2d 727, 665 N.E.2d 145, 642 N.Y.S.2d 575 (1996), under the court’s supervisory authority. Under Ireland, each of the Tropea factors is to be considered, although not exclusively, and no single factor is to be presumed to carry dispositive weight. Ireland v. Ireland, supra, 246 Conn. 434. “Moreover, any other factors or circumstances that could have a bearing on the court’s determination of the child’s best interests should be considered and given the appropriate weight in the court’s analysis.” Ireland v. Ireland, supra, 435. The ultimate goal in considering these and other factors deemed appropriate by the court is to facilitate an accurate case-by-case determination of whether the relocation proposed by the moving party indeed lies in the best interests of the child. Ireland v. Ireland, supra, 433-34.

Whether you are considering or opposing a relocation of minor children after divorce, it is suggested that you consult with family law attorneys who are experienced in these matters. For any further information or confidential inquires regarding this posting, please contact Attorney H. Daniel Murphy at 203-221-3100 or 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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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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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.
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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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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.
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Our firm in Westport serves clients with divorce, matrimonial, and family law issues from all over the state including the towns of: Bethel, Bridgeport, Brookfield, Danbury, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Monroe, New Canaan, New Fairfield, Newton, Norwalk, Redding, Ridgefield, Shelton, Sherman, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Weston, Westport, and Wilton.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to an attorney about a divorce or familial matter, please don’t hesitate to call our office at (203) 221-3100 for a free consultation. Divorce is difficult, education is power. Call today.

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Connecticut Passes New Legislation Concerning Third Party Visitation

In what appears to be an effort to clarify, and perhaps simplify, the law regarding visitation rights of grandparents and other third parties, the Connecticut legislature has enacted Public Act No. 12-137, which became effective October 1, 2012. Essentially codifying the standards set forth in Roth v. Weston, 259 Conn. 202 (2002), the Connecticut legislature has revised and supplemented C.G.S. § 46b-59. First, the new legislation requires that a third party applicant allege in good faith that a parent-like relationship exists between the person and the minor child, and that denial of visitation would cause real and significant harm. “Real and significant harm” means that the child is neglected or uncared for, as defined in C.G.S. § 46b-120. Second, the Act requires that the applicant prove the allegations by clear and convincing evidence.

Adding to the Connecticut’s Supreme Court’s ruling in Roth, the legislature added specific factors a court may consider in determining whether a parent-like relationship exists. A court may consider, 1) the existence and length of the relationship between the person and the minor child prior to the submission of a visitation petition; 2) the length of time that the relationship between the person and the minor child has been disrupted; 3) the specific parent-like activities of the person seeking visitation toward the minor child; 4) any evidence that the person seeking visitation has unreasonably undermined the authority and discretion of the custodial parent; 5) the significant absence of a parent from the life of a minor child; 6) the death of one of the child’s parents; 7) the physical separation of the parents of the minor child; 8 ) the fitness of the person seeking visitation; and 9) the fitness of the custodial parent. Additionally, when determining whether a parent-like relationship exists between a grandparent and a minor child, a court may consider the history of regular contact and proof of a close and substantial relationship between the grandparent and the minor child.

The new Act also provides that if a court grants visitation rights to a third party, it must set forth certain details, including a visitation schedule (e.g., the days, times and location of the visitation), whether overnight visitation will be allowed, and any other conditions the court determines are in the best interest of the child. In determining the terms and conditions of visitation, the court may consider the effect the visitation will have on the relationship between the parent and the minor child, and the effect on the child of any domestic violence that has occurred between or among parents, grandparents or other third parties seeking visitation. Notably, the legislature also added a provision providing that visitation rights with a third party shall not be grounds for preventing the relocation of the custodial parent.

Although Public Act No. 12-137 did not necessarily change the law regarding third party visitation in Connecticut, the new legislation certainly provides additional clarification and direction in this area of law for both litigants and attorneys. Should you have any questions regarding custody matters, please feel free to contact Attorney Michael D. DeMeola, Esq. He can be reached in the firm’s Westport office at (203) 221-3100 or by e-mail at mdemeola@mayalaw.com.
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Our firm in Westport serves clients with divorce, matrimonial, and family law issues from all over the state including the towns of: Bethel, Bridgeport, Brookfield, Danbury, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Monroe, New Canaan, New Fairfield, Newton, Norwalk, Redding, Ridgefield, Shelton, Sherman, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Weston, Westport, and Wilton.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to an attorney about a divorce or familial matter, please don’t hesitate to call our office at (203) 221-3100 for a free consultation. Divorce is difficult, education is power. Call today.

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Court Permits Mother to Relocate from Connecticut to New York City with the Parties’ Minor Child

In a recent decision rendered in the Superior Court of Hartford, a mother was permitted to relocate with the parties’ minor child from New Haven, Connecticut to New York City. This particular case involved an unmarried couple that had been living apart for several years. The father was employed by the State of Connecticut in the IT field, and the mother was a part-time research associate at Yale. The mother had earned several advanced degrees, including two master’s degrees and a Ph.D. In early 2010, the mother applied for a full time position in New York City.

In determining whether the move was in the child’s best interests, the court concluded that the mother had been the child’s primary caregiver for most of her life, and that she had a legitimate employment offer in New York City. The court found that the new opportunity was commensurate with the mother’s advanced degrees and would enable her to financially support and care for the child. The court further found that the mother was not acting in “bad faith” in pursuing the opportunity, that the mother was engaged to a man that lived and worked in close proximity to where she would be living, and that the mother’s extended family lived close by and would be able to support the mother and the child.

Although the court noted that the move would make visitation more difficult for the father, it found that leaving the child in Connecticut away from her primary caregiver, who did not have an employment opportunity in Connecticut commensurate with her advanced education, was not in the child’s best interests. The court also observed that the mother’s fiancé worked in the hedge fund industry, had no criminal history and was respectful of the mother’s role in her daughter’s life. The court also noted that the mother was willing to facilitate and encourage a relationship between the child and the father whereas the father questioned the mother’s parenting decisions without being able to give a persuasive example of poor parenting on the mother’s part.

Should you have any questions regarding relocation, or custody actions in general, please feel free to contact Attorney Michael D. DeMeola, Esq. He can be reached at (203) 221-3100 or by e-mail at mdemeola@mayalaw.com.
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Our firm in Westport serves clients with divorce, matrimonial, and family law issues from all over the state including the towns of: Bethel, Bridgeport, Brookfield, Danbury, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Monroe, New Canaan, New Fairfield, Newton, Norwalk, Redding, Ridgefield, Shelton, Sherman, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Weston, Westport, and Wilton.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to an attorney about a divorce or familial matter, please don’t hesitate to call our office at (203) 221-3100 for a free consultation. Divorce is difficult, education is power. Call today.

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