Posts tagged with "uncontested"

What Should I Do if My Ex Is Not Paying Alimony on Time, or At All? Is this Considered Contempt of Court in Connecticut?

Generally, in Connecticut, a person will not be found in contempt of court for missing one payment of alimony.  In order for a court to find contempt, they must find that a person has the ability and means to comply with a court order but willfully is refusing to comply.  You may file a motion for contempt for this issue if you choose, but it would be best to sit down with an experienced divorce attorney to educate you on the correct best legal path to take.

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

Why Men Seek Alimony More Than Ever

As we have discussed, more and more men are receiving alimony. The reasons are mostly economical, but there is certain stigmas that come along with a man being paid alimony from his ex-wife…at least in his eyes. The following article by Cathy Meyer highlights some of these very issues.

More and more men are seeking alimony and choosing to believe that there is no shame in accepting a monthly check from their ex-wives. The percentage of alimony recipients who are male rose to 3.6% during the five years ending in 2006. Up from 2.4% in the previous five-year period according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The percentage of men seeking alimony will rise as the earning potential of women increase. In 2005, wives out earned their husbands in 33% of families where both husband and wife were employed, up from 28.2% a decade earlier.

Why Men Seek Alimony:

1) Most men who seek alimony do so for the same reasons women have, they sacrificed their careers so their wives could build theirs. Believe it or not, there are men out there who put their wife’s career needs above their own. If, after years of support her career efforts she decides to divorce why shouldn’t he seek alimony?

2) Men seek alimony because they gave up their career pursuits to become stay at home parents. If there is a divorce, he deserves compensation for years of raising children, doing laundry and cooking dinner.

3) Men seek alimony as a way to negotiate a better divorce settlement agreement. They know that it is a powerful tool to be used with a wife who does not like the idea of writing a monthly check. She may be more willing to give up the second home on the coast or a larger portion of her retirement benefits if she knows it will mean cutting off all ties with her soon to be ex husband.

Men or women that are the primary breadwinners should be responsible for paying what the courts say is fair and it shouldn’t matter that the recipients are male or female. Many men don’t seek alimony because of the stigma attached to be “supported by a woman.” They don’t want to be “that guy” but to not protect themselves and take advantage of what state divorce laws allow they are being shortsighted.

If you are under-employed or your divorce leaves you struggling financially, the back burner may be where you need to leave your pride.

Article by: Cathy Meyer, About.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.

Attorney Charging Lien in Dissolution of Marriage Settlement Does Not Violate the Rules of Professional Conduct

In a recent case, the Appellate Court of Connecticut reversed the trial court’s ruling and held that an attorney’s lien on a divorce settlement does not violate Rule 1.5 of the Rules of Professional Conduct. Rule 1.5(d) of the Rules of Professional Conduct states: “a lawyer shall not enter into an arrangement for, charge, or collect: (1) Any fee in a domestic relations matter, the payment or amount of which is contingent upon the securing of a dissolution of marriage or civil union or upon the amount of alimony or support, or property settlement in lieu thereof….” The trial court believed that the lien would fall under the contingency provision and therefore violate this rule.

The appellate court thought differently, in overturning the trial court’s decision it held that recognizing a charging lien in a dissolution of marriage action would not implicate rule 1.5(d)(1) because a charging lien would not render the attorney’s fee “contingent upon the securing of a dissolution of marriage … or upon the amount of alimony or support, or property settlement in lieu thereof ….“ Rules of Professional Conduct 1.5(d)(1). Clearly, this rule prohibits an attorney from making his or her fee contingent upon specific outcomes in a dissolution of marriage action. The recognition of a charging lien, which is a type of security interest, however, would not tie the attorney’s fees in a dissolution of marriage action billed at hourly rates or agreed to be a specific amount to the outcome of the case; it merely would allow the attorney to secure payment for services rendered in connection with the dissolution litigation and for the expenses of such dissolution litigation, as in other litigation.

In addition, after considering rule 1.5 and other rules of professional conduct, the court concluded that rule 1.8(i)(1) permityed a charging lien in connection with a dissolution action. Rule 1.8(i) provides: “A lawyer shall not acquire a proprietary interest in the cause of action or subject matter of litigation the lawyer is conducting for a client, except that the lawyer may: (1) Acquire a lien granted by law to secure the lawyer’s fee or expenses….” This rule thus specifically recognizes that an attorney may acquire a charging lien, a lien granted by Connecticut common law, in connection with litigation, and it contains no specific prohibition against such a lien in connection with dissolution of marriage litigation.

The Connecticut common law has been around for over a century and “although not often litigated in the courts of Connecticut, the common-law charging lien has been recognized since 1836….” Id ., at 256, 903 A.2d 697. Our common-law charging lien is actually an equitable lien. “If an attorney has rendered services and expended money in instituting and conducting a suit and the plaintiff orally agrees that he may retain so much of the avails thereof as will pay him for his services and expenses therein and for previous services in other matters, and he thereafter conducts the suit to a favorable conclusion, he has, as against such plaintiff, an equitable lien upon the avails for the services and expenses in the suit, and for the previous services embraced in the agreement….” Cooke v. Thresher, 51 Conn. 105, 107 (1883).

Here, the fee violated no professional rules and was covered by Connecticut common law. Therefore, the appellate court reversed the trial court’s decision and remanded the case back to the trial court for a determination of the proper fee to be charged. A third party creditor also challenged this action seeking heir own remedy from the settlement proceeds that the attorney was also claiming rights to. The appellate court also addressed this claim and found that while the creditor was entitled to a fair remedy, that remedy could only be redeemed after the attorney had been paid his fee.

In citing an American Law Review article the court noted: “Conflicts between an attorney claiming a charging lien for his fees on a judgment recovered through his efforts and a third-party creditor seeking to satisfy a debt owed by the attorney’s client by impressing a lien on the same judgment have usually been resolved by determining which lien first attached to the judgment or its proceeds…. Since an attorney’s lien generally attaches to a judgment as of the date the attorney commenced to represent the client in the action which terminates in the judgment, the courts have generally recognized the priority of the attorney’s lien over competing liens which were perfected after he commenced his services … while upholding the priority of the competing lien which was perfected before the commencement of the attorney’s services.” Annot., Priority Between Attorney’s Lien for Fees Against a Judgment and Lien of Creditor Against Same Judgment, 34 A.L.R.4th 665, § 2 (1984).

________________________________________________________________________________
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.

Boost in Divorces Boosts Economy

The number of Americans getting divorced rose for the third year in a row to about 2.4 million in 2012, after plunging in the 18-month recession ended June 2009, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. Whatever the social and emotional impact, the broad economic effects of the increase are clear: It is contributing to the formation of new households, boosting demand for housing, appliances and furnishings and spurring the economy. Divorces are also prompting more women to enter the labor force.

“As the economy normalizes, so too do family dynamics,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics Inc. in West Chester, Pennsylvania. “Birth rates and divorce rates are rising. We may even see them rise strongly in the next couple of years, as households who put off these life-changing events decide to act.”

40-Year Low

Divorces were at a 40-year low in 2009, according to Jessamyn Schaller, an economics professor at the University of Arizona in Tucson, citing data from the federal government’s National Center for Health Statistics. The divorce rate more than doubled between 1940 and 1981 before falling a third by 2009, according to figures from NCHS, based in Hyattsville, Maryland.

The rise in divorces has coincided with an increase in household formation. Almost 5.3 million households have been formed in the past four years after the figure slumped to fewer than 400,000 in 2009, according to the Census Bureau. That is bolstering the need for apartments, condos and furnishings.

“Separations and divorce often create additional housing demand by creating two households when there was one,” said David Crowe, chief economist at the National Association of Home Builders in Washington.

Construction Rebound

That has contributed to the rebound in home construction. Housing starts surged 67 percent to 923,400 in 2013 from 2009, according to Commerce Department data. Multifamily housing starts have almost tripled since the recession and accounted for 33 percent of residential construction in 2013, up from 20 percent in 2009.

Newly single men have been renting apartments in suburban markets as they seek to stay close to their children and attend school events, said Gregory Mutz, AMLI Residential Properties Trust chief executive officer. The Chicago-based company develops and acquires luxury apartments in the U.S.

“In unhappy marriages, they have started having the macroeconomic ability to unwind,” he said. That is creating “a little bit of a tailwind” for apartments.

About 150,000 divorces were postponed or avoided between 2009 and 2011, said Philip Cohen, a sociology professor at the University of Maryland in College Park who linked breakups to the economic cycle in a January 2014 paper.
Unemployment Tie

Both marriages and dissolutions are tied to unemployment, University of Arizona’s Schaller found in a May 2012 paper. Each one percentage point increase in the jobless rate is associated with a 1.5 percent decrease in the marriage rate and 1.7 percent drop in the divorce rate, she calculated.

Unemployment slid to a five-year low of 6.6 percent in January from 10 percent in October 2009. Home prices increased 22 percent in third quarter of last year compared with the first quarter of 2012, partially recovering a 35 percent drop from 2006’s second quarter, according to the S&P Case-Shiller U.S. Home Price index.
Story: Goldman: Corporate Profits Grew Five Times Faster Than Wages in 2013

Rising stock and home prices are giving couples greater financial security. Household net worth for the third quarter last year was more than $8 trillion above its pre-recession peak of $69 trillion reached in same period in 2007, data from the Federal Reserve showed in December.

Credit: Steve Matthews, Bloomberg news: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2014-02-18/worsening-u-dot-s-dot-divorce-rate-points-to-improving-economy

________________________________________________________________________________
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 or email JMaya@mayalaw.com. 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.

Divorce & Remarriage: How These Events Impact Your Social Security Benefits

If you’re considering or in the process of divorce, and you’re just shy of your 10th wedding anniversary, you might want to wait a bit and use the time to brush up on all things Social Security before you make the break official.

“Clearly, a lot of factors need to be taken into account when making divorce decisions,” said Marcus Dillender, an economist at the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research and author of a just-published paper, Social Security and Divorce Decisions . “However, people should be aware of the fact that Social Security provides spousal benefits to divorced people if their marriages lasted at least 10 years.”

For people planning on divorcing around the 10-year mark of a marriage, Dillender said waiting a few months may result in higher Social Security payments if their spouses’ earnings records are higher than their own.

Others provide similar advice. “So if your divorce will be final at the nine-year-and-10-months mark, you might delay signing for a couple months, just to keep the door open to Social Security’s former spouse benefits,” said Andy Landis, of the website Thinking Retirement and a contributor to the MarketWatch RetireMentor section.

Martha Shedden, a Social Security specialist with ClientFirst Financial, said the devil is in the details when it comes to Social Security and divorce. According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), if you are divorced, your ex-spouse can receive benefits based on your record (even if you have remarried) if:

  • Your marriage lasted 10 years or longer;
  • Your ex-spouse is unmarried;
  • Your ex-spouse is age 62 or older;
  • The benefit that your ex-spouse is entitled to receive based on his or her own work is less than the benefit he or she would receive based on your work; and
  • You are entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits.

According to SSA, if you have not applied for retirement benefits, but can qualify for them, your ex-spouse can receive benefits on your record if you have been divorced for at least two years. If your divorced spouse remarries, he or she generally cannot collect benefits on your record unless their later marriage ends (whether by death, divorce or annulment).

Now, according to Dillender’s study, spouses (or perhaps their lawyers) are aware of Social Security’s rules regarding the 10-year rule. In fact, in his paper, Dillender found evidence looking at data from 1985-1995 and from 2008-2011 that the 10-year rule results in a small increase in divorces for the general population.

However, the effects vary greatly by age. In his paper, he noted that divorce decisions change very little for people under the age of 35. But for people 55 and older, divorces increase by about 20% around the 10-year cutoff, which leads to an increase in the likelihood of being divorced of 11.7% at 10 years of marriage.

And for people between the ages of 35 and 55, who account for more than half of divorces, Dillender noted that the likelihood of being divorced increases by almost 6% as marriages cross the 10-year mark.

“This heterogeneity across ages likely exists because older people are more focused on retirement and have less time to remarry,” Dillender wrote. “These results indicate many people delay divorcing because they need Social Security benefits. In addition, the results also indicate that younger people plan on remarrying, which means they would no longer be eligible for spousal benefits.”

Landis said the overall bump for those age 55 and older, at 11.7%, is rather small. “To me that means that finalizing the divorce is the priority motivator, and retaining the rights to Social Security former spouse benefits is smaller,” he said. “The bottom line is that couples may be willing to delay a few months to keep their Social Security options open, but they won’t wait for years.”

Others agree that it’s worth waiting to divorce, though perhaps not forever. “If I were counseling someone — especially a woman who had taken time off or worked part time to raise the couples’ children — I would definitely advise them of these rules,” said Shedden.

Few know how Social Security works

To be fair, not all agree that spouses are aware of how Social Security works with respect to marriage, divorce, death, and remarriage. But they should be.

“While many people may stay in a marriage for financial reasons, people are generally unaware of how Social Security retirement benefits are calculated and less are likely aware that you need 10 years of marriage to qualify for spousal benefits, regardless of whether the marriage ends in divorce,” said Jason Fichtner, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

As proof, Fichtner cited research conducted for the Social Security Administration in 2010 which found that only 13% of those surveyed were very knowledgeable about how Social Security benefits are calculated. Read What Do People Know About Social Security?

Further, only 21% said they were very knowledgeable about how their spouse’s decision on when to claim Social Security retirement benefits might affect their own retirement benefit amount.

“This research suggests that many people aren’t likely to be aware of the technical details surrounding the spousal benefit and 10-year requirement,” said Fichtner. “Hence, I’m skeptical that people are delaying divorce past the 10 year mark just to qualify for Social Security spousal benefits.”

“My guess,” he said, “is that 10-year marriage mark is a milestone — just like two or five years — that people in a troubled marriage try to make it through hoping things get better before deciding to divorce.”

His advice: “Regardless of whether people are single, married or divorced, it’s important that they understand their Social Security retirement benefits and the important personal decision surrounding when to claim benefits. This is even more important for women.”

Others agree about the importance of understanding Social Security retirement benefits.

Elaine Floyd, the director of retirement and life planning at Horsesmouth, said Dillender’s paper serves as a good reminder that the 10-year length-of-marriage requirement to qualify for divorced-spouse benefits, and the disqualification for such benefits upon remarriage, are huge issues in Social Security planning and overall retirement income planning.

“Divorcing just shy of the 10 years can deny a person — man or woman — many thousands of dollars in divorced-spouse benefits,” Floyd said.

Like Fichtner, Floyd takes issue some of Dillender’s findings. For instance, she said Dillender’s paper suggests that women are the biggest beneficiaries of divorced-spouse benefits, and that might be true. “But high-earning people of either gender can take advantage of such benefits by filing a restricted application for divorced-spouse benefits at full retirement age and switching to their own maximum retirement benefit at 70,” Floyd said.

In fact, Floyd said, unlike married couples, two divorced spouses can each receive spousal benefits on the other’s record at the same time, and the ex-spouse need not have filed for his own benefit as long as he is over 62 and they have been divorced more than two years.

As for remarriage, there are lots of reasons why a person might want to remarry — Social Security probably being far down on the list. “But anyone who plans to take advantage of divorced-spouse benefits may want to reconsider that decision in light of the thousands of dollars in Social Security benefits they may be giving up,” Floyd said.

To be sure, Floyd said remarriage may not affect a lower-earning spouse as much because she can always draw spousal benefits off her new spouse. “But high-earning spouses who are taking advantage of the restricted application to receive as much as $60,000 in spousal benefits between age 66 and 70 (if the ex-spouse is a high earner) may want to postpone any nuptials until after age 70,” she said.

Said Floyd: “Anyone considering divorce or remarriage should consider all the ramifications, including the impact on Social Security.”

Credit: Robert Powell, MarketWatch: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/how-divorce-remarriage-impacts-social-security-2014-02-18?pagenumber=1

________________________________________________________________________________
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.

When Divorce Mediation May Not be the Best Choice

The process of mediating a divorce can be a great alternative to traditional divorce litigation. For many, a private process that allows them to work through complex financial and child custody issues can be appealing. For others, the financial benefit of mediation which eliminates costly motion practice and costly attorney’s fees are enough to convince them to give mediation a try. Unfortunately, all the benefits aside, mediation is simply not a one size fits all solution to every divorce action. More and more litigants are approaching mediation not as a true alternative to litigation, but a prerequisite to traditional litigation. As a result, they are surprised when the process doesn’t produce the desired result. Mediation is a process that works best when both parties are prepared to communicate, are open and honest about their finances, and are open to negotiating for the sake of compromise. If you are considering mediation, here are three signs that divorce mediation may not be the best method to resolve the issues in your divorce.

1. Failure to provide full financial disclosure

The mediation process is designed to assist parties who desire a fair and reasonable division of their assets. The expedited aspect of the process eliminates discovery litigation and relies on the parties to be open and honest about their income, expenses, assets and liabilities. If you suspect your spouse may not be willing to be open and honest about their finances, perhaps divorce mediation is not the best route for resolution of your divorce.

2. Abuse or intimidation in your relationship

The ability to communicate one’s desires and concerns is the cornerstone of the mediation process. In relationships where there is abuse or one party is intimidated by the other, the abused spouse may not have ability to effectively advocate for themselves. While the mediator may be aware of the one sided nature of the process, he/she must remain neutral and cannot advocate for either party’s best interest. The mediator’s sole purpose is to obtain an agreement. If you feel as though you cannot effectively advocate on your own behalf, then mediation is not for you.

3. The other party simply does not want a divorce

If your spouse is completely adverse to obtaining a divorce, mediation may not be best for you. Mediation is successful when the parties can at least agree that the marriage must end, and genuinely desire a divorce. If your spouse is hesitant to end the marriage, he/she may treat the mediation process as an attempt to resolve the issues of the marriage versus an attempt to resolve the issues of the divorce.

Credit: Alicia P. Chalumeau

________________________________________________________________________________
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.

 

The Engagement Fell Apart . . . Who Keeps the Ring?

In Connecticut the most common form of engagement litigation involves engagement rings. Engagement ring litigation is really an extension of property and contractual litigation.

Connecticut follows the modern view that the gift of the engagement ring is a conditional gift, the condition being the subsequent marriage of the parties. If the marriage does not take place, the condition has not been met and the ring should be returned to the donor. Thorndike v. Demirs, No. CV05-5000243S (J.D. Waterbury at Waterbury, Jul. 26, 2007).

Connecticut has adopted the modern view for practical reasons. First, ”No-fault’ jurisdictions highlight that the primary purpose behind the engagement period is to allow the couple to test the permanency of their feelings for one another, and with that purpose in mind, it would be irrational to penalize the donor for taking steps to prevent a possibly unhappy marriage.

Further, Connecticut has adopted this rule for judicial economy. “We do not want to require our judiciary to tackle the seemingly insurmountable task of determining which party was at fault for the termination of an engagement for marriage, as such may force trial courts to sort through volumes of self-serving testimony regarding who-did-what during the engagement.”

There are various exceptions to this rule (e.g. fraud) but the general rule in Connecticut is that the ring belongs to the donor until “I-do’s” are exchanged.

Credit: Ryan McKeen aconnecticutlawblog.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.

600 Motion 10 Year Divorce Case Still Going Strong

It’s a divorce and child visitation case that already has produced nearly 600 motions and rulings and evidence of insider trading that brought down a multibillion-dollar hedge fund.

And as it passes the 10-year mark, the case of former Connecticut investment adviser David Zilkha and his ex-wife, Karen Kaiser, shows no signs of nearing a final resolution. They remain embroiled in disputes over child visitation and fees for hired experts, with more court hearings set for the next two months.

The acrimony has included mudslinging by both sides and prompted a show of frustration from the judge.

“There are some cases that for whatever reason … sort of spin out of control,” Judge Michal Shay said during a hearing in Stamford Superior Court last year. “It seems impossible, it seems intractable, sometimes to pull them back and try to get them on the right track, and that’s what I’m trying to do here.”

David Zilkha, who hasn’t seen his 12-year-old twin son and daughter for four years, alleges in court documents that Kaiser is refusing to schedule “unification therapy” for him and the children that both sides agreed to in January. He also has accused Kaiser of lying repeatedly to authorities about him and alienating the children from him.

Kaiser claims Zilkha also has lied to authorities, subjected her to libelous smear campaigns to damage her reputation and once punched her in the face, according to documents in the divorce case and a defamation lawsuit she filed against Zilkha.

A court-ordered mental evaluation also alleged Zilkha has such a severe narcissistic personality disorder that he shouldn’t be allowed to see the children, a claim Zilkha strongly disputes and says has been debunked by prominent therapists who evaluated him.

Court documents filed by Kaiser say Zilkha has had the ability to see the children under supervised visitation but has refused to do so. Zilkha is protesting the conditions of supervised visitation and says the sessions are prohibitively expensive, costing him more than $5,000 per visit. He called the supervised visit system a “racket” for lawyers and others involved in the process.

Kaiser, a 48-year-old homemaker in Southbury, and her divorce lawyer, Dori-Ellen Feltman, declined to comment about the case.

Zilkha, 44, a British citizen now living in London, told The Associated Press that Kaiser has been trying to destroy their children’s love for him. He says she has failed to comply with court orders and has abused the court system, which he believes is biased against fathers in child visitation cases.

“Basically, my kids and I have been brutalized,” Zilkha said, referring to the legal process. “It’s been soul-destroying. It’s been life-destroying.”

Kaiser filed for divorce on Aug. 13, 2003, saying the five-year marriage had “broken down irretrievably.” A judge granted the divorce May 31, 2005, but the case continued with scores of motions involving the children and legal costs.

The proceedings took an unusual turn in January 2009, when the divorce case unveiled evidence that led the Securities and Exchange Commission to reopen an insider trading investigation against Pequot Capital Management, then based in Westport.

SEC officials said Kaiser provided them with emails she saved from her and her ex-husband’s home computer that helped show Zilkha provided inside information about Microsoft to Pequot and its founder and chairman, Arthur Samberg, in 2001. The SEC alleged Pequot and Samberg used the information to trade Microsoft shares and make more than $14 million for the Pequot funds.

Pequot and Samberg later agreed to pay $28 million to settle the SEC’s insider trading charges, but neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing. The SEC also obtained a $250,000 judgment against Zilkha, who was working at Microsoft when Pequot hired him in April 2001.

Kaiser and her current husband, meanwhile, got a $1 million award from the SEC for helping with the investigation — the largest award the agency had ever paid for information in an insider trading case.

Pequot, which was a major investment firm that managed $15 billion in assets at its peak in 2001, shut down in 2009 amid the SEC investigation.

Pequot fired Zilkha in late 2001, but he later won a $2.1 million settlement in a wrongful termination lawsuit. The settlement, which was to be paid in three installments, became an issue — and is still an issue — in the divorce case, with Kaiser accusing Zilkha of not disclosing the award. Payment of the third installment has been delayed because of court proceedings.

Most divorce cases are nothing like Kaiser and Zilkha’s case in terms of length and the volume of paperwork, said Carolyn Wilkes Kaas, an associate law professor at Quinnipiac University in Hamden. But such acrimony, unfortunately, is not unheard of, she said.

Another Connecticut divorce case, Nancy Tauck v. Peter Tauck, included an 86-day trial in 2007 that cost some $13 million in attorneys’ fees. Lawyers in the case believe it was the longest divorce trial in state history. That case was filed in May 2005 and lasted to December 2011, with nearly 700 filings.

Kaas said one of her main concerns about lengthy and contentious divorce cases is the effect on children.

“Generally speaking, the evidence is overwhelmingly clear that ongoing conflict and lack of ability to resolve a matter is very bad for kids,” she said.

-Associated Press, USA Today
________________________________________________________________________________
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.

Equitable Distribution of Assets in Connecticut Divorce

When it comes to divorce, dividing assets can be difficult. Who is entitled to what property? Who has to pay debts accumulated during the marriage? These are common questions that couples ask when faced with divorce. It is important to note that couples can answer these questions by themselves. Couples are entitled to dividing property and debts out of court, if this is possible. However, if the case goes to court, a judge will divide these assets and debts for you.

If you and your spouse face a fairly amicable divorce, and you think that you can sort through your property, assets, and debt on your own, this is a good idea. Keeping the negotiation out of court will save you time and money. In addition, you will have more power over what you keep because you can make decisions between you and your spouse. If you take your case to court, a judge will make the final decision, which can be a gamble. You can settle your divorce outside of court with the help of a third party, such as a mediator. Mediators are meant to help a couple compromise on what they want and don’t want in the divorce. After listening to what both spouses want out of the divorce, a mediator will propose an agreement on how to split up assets and debt. If the agreement is pleasing to both parties, they can sign the agreement and it will go into effect.

However, if an agreement cannot be reached out of court, there are state laws that dictate how property and debt is to be divided in a divorce. The divorce can go to court, and a judge will follow these rules in order to distribute the property fairly. Some states follow different rules. The states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin all follow community property laws. This means that all property is divided into community property that is owned equally by both parties, or separate property, that is only owned by one spouse. In divorce, the community property is divided equally, and separate property is given to the spouse it belongs to. This division includes community debts and separate debts.

All other states, like Connecticut, use equitable distribution laws. Equitable distribution divides all assets, property, and debt that is accumulated during the marriage in an equitable way. This is a fair division, but it isn’t necessarily equal for both parties. Equitable distribution takes into account each spouse’s individual financial situation and earning capacity in order to divide the property in relation to these factors. Sometimes, a judge will order that one spouse gets separate property so that the settlement is fair for both parties.

“It is black letter law that Connecticut is an equitable distribution property state . . .” Wendt v. Wendt, 59 Conn. App. 656, 662, 757 A.2d 1225 (2000). ” At the time of entering a decree annulling or dissolving a marriage or for legal separation pursuant to a complaint . . . the Superior Court may assign to either the husband or wife all or any part of the estate of the other.” CT. Gen. Stat. 46b-81. “This approach to property division is commonly referred to as an all property equitable distribution scheme.” Krafick v. Krafick, 234 Conn. 783, 792 (1995).

“An equitable distribution of property should take into consideration the plaintiff’s contributions to the marriage, including homemaking activities and primary care taking responsibilities.” O’Neill v. O’Neill, 13 Conn. App. 311. ” A determination of each spouses’ contribution within the meaning of General Statutes 46b-81 includes non monetary as well as monetary contributions.” Id.

Whether you settle your divorce outside of court or in court, it is a good idea to hire a Connecticut divorce lawyer to help you through the process. A divorce lawyer can make sure that you get what you are entitled to in your divorce. You can discuss your situation with a Connecticut divorce lawyer at any time in the divorce process.

Credit to: lady divorce and CT Judicial for the information
________________________________________________________________________________
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.

Family Law Update: Postnuptial Agreements Valid and Enforceable in Connecticut

Upon beginning an action for a divorce, many people will disclose to their lawyers that the parties had already contemplated the end of their marriage, sometimes many years before.  More often than one would guess, the parties had even mapped out this projected end to their relationship with an agreement written during the marriage itself – maybe hammered out on the family computer, or perhaps scribbled on a restaurant napkin – which was intended by the parties to govern the terms of any divorce that would loom in the future.

With a waiver of alimony, a promise to exclude inheritance proceeds, or a pledge to leave the marital home – an intended postnuptial agreement could be as flexible and varied as the complex circumstances of the marriage itself.  However, unlike their premarital cousins (agreements executed before marriage are governed both Connecticut General Statutes Section 46b-36b et seq. and controlling precedent), postnuptial agreements had not been officially recognized by the Connecticut Supreme Court and the prospects of their enforceability at trial was nebulous at best.

In the recent decision of Bedrick v. Bedrick (SC 18568, 200 Conn. 691, decided April 26, 2011), the Connecticut Supreme Court has for the first time set forth parameters to test the enforceability of postnuptial agreements, noting that “we must now consider what standards govern their enforcement.  Neither the legislature nor this court has addressed this question.”  Bedrick, at 699.

Addressing first the question of whether postnuptial agreements are contrary to public policy, the Supreme Court concluded in the negative.  While historically, the Court had determined that prenuptial agreements (as an example) were generally held to violate public policy if they promoted, facilitated, or provided an incentive for separation or divorce” (citing McHugh v. McHugh, 181 Conn. 482, 488-89 (1980)), it has been more recently decided that “private settlement of the financial affairs of estranged marital partners is a goal that courts should support rather than undermine” (see Billington v. Billington, 220 Conn. 212, 221 (1991)).  The Bedrick court now opined that “postnuptial agreements may also encourage the private resolution of family issues.  In particular, they may allow couples to eliminate a source of emotional turmoil – usually, financial uncertainty – and focus instead on resolving other aspects of the marriage that may be problematic.”  Bedrick, at 698.

In this case of first impression, the Supreme Court expressly acknowledged the heightened scrutiny that must be applied to a trial judge’s review of a contract between already married persons, noting that “spouses do not contract under the same conditions as either prospective spouses or spouses who have determined to dissolve their marriage.”  In its analysis, the Court points out that already married spouses are “less cautious” in a contractual relationship with one another than they would be as prospective spouses, and similarly, are “certainly less cautious” with one another than they would be with an ordinary contracting party.  “With lessened caution comes greater potential for one spouse to take advantage of the other.”  Id, at 703.

As such, the law now requires trial courts to enforce a postnuptial agreement only if it complies with applicable contract principles (including the element of consideration, or in layman’s terms, the “give and take” in any contractual arrangement), and if the terms of the agreement are both fair and equitable at the time of execution and if those terms are not unconscionable at the time of dissolution of the marriage.  To determine whether terms are “fair and equitable” at the time of execution, a court will look to whether the agreement was made voluntarily, without any undue influence, fraud, coercion, or duress.  In addition, as with prenuptial agreements, there must be a factual finding that each spouse was given full, fair, and reasonable disclosure of all property, assets, financial obligations, and income of the other spouse when entering into the contract.

Importantly also, the Court further held that “unfairness or inequity alone does not render a postnuptial agreement unconscionable; spouses may agree on an unequal distribution of assets at dissolution.”  Id, at 706.  Trial courts are charged with applying a “totality of the circumstances” approach to determining the fairness and equity of enforcing a postnuptial agreement.

With this significant legal decision now available as a roadmap for divorce litigants and their counsel, it is critical now as always that you consult with a knowledgeable and experienced family law attorney in determining your rights relating to an impending divorce. 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.