Posts tagged with "spousal support"

Court Rules it Has Authority to Award Child Support and Alimony Even if Parties are Living Together

In a dissolution action currently pending in the Stamford Superior Court, Judge Tierney recently ruled on what appears to be an issue of first impression regarding pendente lite child support and alimony.  In Peterson v. Peterson, Superior Court, Judicial District of Stamford, Docket No. FSTFA094015636S (Sept. 21, 2011, Tierney, J.), the parties were married on May 23, 1985 in Salt Lake City, Utah.  They are both in their early fifties and are both in good health.  The wife is a Program Administrator earning $3,287 per month, and the husband is a lawyer who, at one time, earned approximately $500,000 annually, plus bonuses.

Despite the fact that the parties continued residing in the marital home during the pendency of the action, the Wife requested unallocated alimony and child support in the amount of $6,500.00 per month.  The court framed the principal issue as follows: “Does the Superior Court have the authority to enter pendente lite alimony and child support orders when the parties are residing together?”

Generally speaking, in determining pendente lite alimony and child support, one must consider the factors set forth in Connecticut General Statutes §§ 46b-83 and 46b-84.  With respect to pendente lite child support, those factors include the respective abilities of the parents to provide such maintenance, as well as the age, health, station, occupation, earning capacity, amount and sources of income, estate, vocational skills and employability of each of the parents, and the age, health, station, occupation, educational status and expectation, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate and needs of the child.  With respect to pendente lite alimony, the court must consider the length of the marriage, the age, health, station, occupation, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate and needs of each of the parties, and, in the case of a parent to whom the custody of minor children has been awarded, the desirability of such parent’s securing employment.

After setting forth case law precedent and relevant legislative developments, the Court in Peterson found that §§ 46b-83 and 46b-84 are silent as to whether the parties must live separate and apart in order for the Court to enter pendente lite alimony and child support orders.  Indeed, as the Court explained, “Nowhere in these statutes does there exist any requirement that the parties live separate and apart as a condition of a pendente lite alimony order.”  Id.  The court further found that older decisions citing “abandoned” and “living apart” as conditions of pendente lite alimony have been rejected by more recent decisions that do not mention either phrase.  Thus, Judge Tierney ultimately held that there is no current statutory or case law authority to support the proposition that parties must be living apart in order for the Court to enter pendente lite alimony or child support, and, therefore, the Superior Court has the authority to enter such orders even when the two parties continue to reside together.

If you have any questions regarding child support, or any family law matter please contact Joseph Maya at 203-221-3100 or by email at JMaya@MayaLaw.com.

Your Divorce Checklist

Getting a divorce, for many people, is the most challenging life event they have experienced. Not only does divorce tend to be both financially and emotionally taxing, the legalities of getting a divorce can be overwhelming.

Divorce can leave you feeling as though almost all aspects of your life are uncertain. In the face of such uncertainties, it is especially important to know what questions to ask your divorce attorney. We compiled a list of topics for you to consider when contemplating divorce.

Property and Finances

  • Spousal support: periodic, lump sum, waiver
  • Tax implications of divorce
  • Division of marital assets
  • Who, if anyone, will remain in the marital home?
  • Selling the marital home
  • Division of other real property
  • Vehicles: Leased, owned
  • Personal property: Furniture, jewelry, etc.
  • Business assets
  • Bank accounts: Checking, savings, kids account
  • Retirement benefits: Pensions, profit shares, deferred compensation, retirement funds
  • Debts: Loans, credit cards, taxes, healthcare, etc.
  • Medical insurance
  • Life insurance

Children

  • Child support
  • Child custody: legal and physical
  • Parenting time with non-custodial parent
  • Children’s healthcare costs
  • Children’s dental costs
  • Cost of primary education
  • Cost of secondary education
  • Beneficiaries of life insurance

Other Important issues

  • Domestic violence
  • Temporary restraining orders
  • The intersection of criminal law and divorce
  • Child abuse
  • Addressing mental health
  • Addressing substance abuse
  • Changing your marital name

 

If you have any questions about divorce in Connecticut, contact our Managing Partner Joseph Maya directly via email at JMaya@Mayalaw.com or by telephone at (203) 221-3100 for a free consultation.

Domestic Violence and Divorce in Connecticut: How Relevant is Domestic Violence in Divorce Proceedings?

In 2009, eighteen murders were committed as a result of domestic violence in Connecticut, and 21,018 total reported incidents of domestic violence.[1] Domestic violence is a crime, and often results in divorce proceedings. In reality, up to seventy-five percent of instances of domestic violence in a marriage occurs after the couple has separated.[2] Given the increased risk of violence after separation, it is extremely important for a victim of domestic violence to be aware and known her rights.

In Connecticut, domestic violence falls within a category known as “family violence” which is defined as “an incident resulting in physical harm, bodily injury or assault, or an act of threatened violence that constitutes fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury or assault between family or household members.” Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46b-38a(1). Under this law, “verbal abuse or argument shall not constitute family violence unless there is present danger and the likelihood that physical violence will occur.” Id. According to the statute, in order for an incident to fall under the family violence statute, it must be between (a) spouses, former spouses; (b) parents and their children; (c) persons eighteen years of age or older related by blood or marriage; (d) persons sixteen years of age or older other than those persons in subparagraph (c) presently residing together or who have resided together; (e) persons who have a child in common regardless of whether they are or have been married or have lived together at any time; and (f) persons in, or have recently been in, a dating relationship. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46b-38a(2).

Family violence is a pattern of abusive behavior based upon one partner’s attempt to control and dominate the other. This includes physical abuse, emotional abuse, economic abuse, sexual abuse, and stalking and harassment. Rarely are the different types of abuse mutually exclusive. By themselves, each one of these elements can make the decision to leave an abusive relationship difficult. Unfortunately, given the complex nature of domestic violence, Connecticut law provides for criminal relief where physical abuse is present or there is present danger and likelihood that physical violence will ensue.[3] Connecticut does not provide any criminal penalties for emotional or financial abuse.

Protective Orders & Restraining Orders

A victim of family violence has remedies under Connecticut law. Under Connecticut law, a victim of family violence has two different mechanisms to help protect their safety: Protective Orders and Restraining Orders.

A Protective Order is made by a criminal court judge against a person who was arrested for stalking, harassment, or family violence crime.[4] A Protective Order will direct the abuser to refrain from hitting, harassing, contacting the victim or her (his) children, or anything else a judge deems appropriate, and lasts only as long as the criminal court case.

A Restraining Order is made by a civil court judge after a victim files for an Application for Relief from Abuse. Generally, a Protective Order does not address issues of child custody or the removal of the abuser from the marital residence, but a Restraining Order can resolve those issues temporarily. Therefore, it may be necessary to file for a Restraining Order even after a Protective Order has already been granted. Moreover, the application can be granted ex parte, if the judge finds that there is enough evidence to suggest that the applicant is in immediate danger.[5] If the judge declines to grant the Restraining Order ex parte, the judge will set a hearing date within 14 days. At that time, both the applicant and the party whom the Restraining Order is sought, must appear before the judge. A Restraining Order survives for six months, and can be extended on judicial order.

Filing for Divorce

The decision to leave an abusive relationship is difficult, but always right. Abuse in a relationship is never acceptable. While obtaining a Protective and/or Restraining Order is an important step for a victim in protecting herself and/or her children, both types of orders are not permanent. Seeking a divorce or legal separation is the next step.

An action for dissolution of marriage is commenced by filing a summons and complaint with the Superior Court in the judicial district where one of the spouses resides. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46b-45. Once commenced, the Court will dictate a series of Automatic Orders.[6] The Automatic Orders are designed to prevent either party from making any significant changes relating to their children or finances. These orders prohibit relocating the children out of state or locking one party out of the marital residence. If there is a prior Protective and/or Restraining Order in effect, the Automatic Orders will be issued in accordance with those prior order(s). For example, if there is a Restraining Order in place, directing the husband to leave the marital residence will not be affected by the Automatic Orders.

During a divorce proceeding, the spouses will attempt to work out an amicable separation. The spouses will negotiate the marital residence, child custody, child support, spousal support and other issues. Given the complexity of these proceedings, coupled with the intricate nature of family violence, it is important to have an attorney who understands these multifaceted issues.

Custody

Family violence affects every member of the family, directly and indirectly. It creates a home environment where children live in constant fear. As a result, many survivors of family violence fear they will lose their children to the abusive partner. In some cases, this prevents the victim from leaving her abuser.

The most important thing for a victim of family violence to remember is that the Court will decide custody. In doing so, the Court must consider the best interests of the child.[7] In determining the best interests of the child, the Court will look at a litany of items, including the stability of the child’s existing or proposed residences, the mental and physical health of all individuals involved, and the effect on the child of the actions of an abuser. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46b-56(c). If the Court views the victim as the primary parent, and the victim has not been abusive to the child(ren), then the victim is not likely to lose physical and legal custody.

It is important to understand that custody is not the same as visitation. For example, even if a father has abused a mother, as long as he has not harmed the children, he will likely be granted visitation. However, the mother, as a victim of family violence, has the right to request certain conditions for the visitation in order to provide for her own protection. That might include a provision that visitation only occur at certain times, on certain days, at certain locations, or with another person present.

Family violence and divorce cases are riddled with complex issues. It is important to find an attorney who understands domestic violence and has experience with domestic violence divorce cases. One should be confident that their legal advisors are well-versed in the law and familiar with recent case developments.

At Maya Murphy, P.C., we have decades of experience dealing with divorce, restraining order petitions, and criminal litigation – often in situations where the three matters run concurrently. We handle all types of issues related to divorce and child-custody, including post-judgment matters, in a broad geographic area, which includes Westport, Fairfield, Greenwich, and the entire Fairfield County area. For a free initial consultation call (203) 221-3100.


[1] 2009 Family Violence Detailed Report, Connecticut Department of Public Safety, September 2010.

[2] Hart, Barbara. Children of Domestic Violence: Risks and Remedies. Child Protective Services Quarterly; Pittsburgh Bar Association, Winter 1992.

[3] While not provided for under the definition of family violence crime, Connecticut law does criminalize sexual abuse and stalking and harassment.

[4] Family Violence Crime is defined as “crime as defined in section 53a-24 which, in addition to its other elements, contains as an element thereof an act of family violence to a family member and shall not include acts by parents or guardians disciplining minor children unless such acts constitute abuse.” Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46b-38a(2).

[5] Ex parte means that only the party seeking the Restraining Order is before the Judge. Ex parte Restraining Order only last until the hearing, which must be scheduled within 14 days.

[6] This is also true in legal separation, custody, and visitation proceedings in Connecticut.

[7] Schult v. Schult, 241 Conn. 767, 777, 699 A.2d 134 (1997).
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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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The Best Divorce Lawyers CT: Divorce Attorneys Fairfield County, Connecticut

Maya Murphy’s Matrimonial Law Group consists of a dedicated team of lawyers committed to representing its clients through the most complex divorce proceedings. As a significant portion of our Matrimonial Law Group’s client base consists of high net worth individuals, we have experience dealing with the valuation and division of a variety of assets including businesses, residential and commercial real estate, high-end personal property, trusts, various retirement vehicles, as well as stocks, bonds and other securities. Our matrimonial lawyers also counsel the Firm’s clients through the formation and execution of pre-marital agreements, and often collaborate with our Trusts & Estates Group regarding issues involving trusts, testamentary instruments and estate planning. With attorneys licensed to practice in Connecticut and New York, we routinely handle cases originating in Fairfield County, Westchester County and New York City.

Our Matrimonial Law Group represents clients in dissolution and separation proceedings, custody and child support cases, as well as post-judgment custody and support modifications. Our matrimonial lawyers handle each and every case professionally and diligently. Though we aggressively litigate our more acrimonious cases when required, we always take into account the individual and unique needs, position and desires of each client, and recognize the importance of negotiating settlements when appropriate. Our matrimonial lawyers are well versed in the mediation process as well, and are often retained in a neutral capacity, providing our clients with an alternative to the traditional adversarial divorce model.

Maya Murphy’s Matrimonial Law Group is dedicated to providing its clients with high quality representation, including a thorough knowledge of the law, unsurpassed attention to detail, unwavering client support and constant preparedness. We understand that our clients are often in the worst situations they will ever personally encounter, and seek, at every turn, to alleviate their fears while protecting and advancing their interests in a court of law.

Our firm provides representation in all trial and appellate courts for matters relating to dissolution of marriage including: legal separation, property division, alimony, child custody, child support, and visitation rights. Our firm is experienced in dealing with the legal, financial, emotional and psychological issues arising in family and matrimonial relationships. Our attorneys have extensive experience representing individuals in matters involving all types of divorce and family law issues.

Maya Murphy’s offices are located in Westport, Connecticut and serves clients in locations including Stamford, Hartford, New Haven, Danbury, Waterbury, Bridgeport, Greenwich, Norwalk, Milford, Stratford, Fairfield County, Hartford County, New Haven County, Litchfield County, Middlesex County, Tolland County, Windham County, and New London County.

To discuss a case please contact Joseph C. Maya or H. Daniel Murphy at (203) 221-3100 in Connecticut or (212) 682-5700 in New York. Mr. Maya can be reached via e-mail at JMaya@Mayalaw.com and Mr. Murphy can be reached via e-mail 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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