A Breakdown of Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce in Connecticut

Connecticut is a “no fault” state, which means that either party of a marriage can unilaterally decide to dissolve the marriage for any reason. Compare this state of affairs with the previous situation. In a fault-based system, the party seeking to dissolve the marriage must bring forth a legitimate reason as to why the divorce should be granted. Common reasons cited in a fault-based system are infidelity, abandonment, poverty, and so forth. However, even though Connecticut may be a no fault system, marital dissolution in this state can still be a fairly complex process. Part of the complexity of divorce in Connecticut stems from the two types of divorce processes: contested and uncontested.

In this post, we will give a brief rundown on the difference between contested and uncontested divorces. As we will see, both contested and uncontested divorces present many complex issues. Readers who need assistance should contact the Apex Law Firm.

What is Uncontested Divorce?

An uncontested divorce is one in which both parties reach an agreement on certain fundamental aspects of the separation. This doesn’t speak to anything regarding the underlying reasons or motivations of the divorce itself, only that both parties agree on certain points concerning their separation. Furthermore, in an uncontested divorce, the court accepts the agreement which has been reached by the parties.

The parties of a divorce must reach an agreement on the following issues: (1) division of property, (2) child support, (3) child custody and parenting, (4) plan for visitation, and (5) spousal support. Needless to say, developing an agreement on all these points is far from easy. This is why many divorces are not uncontested. What’s more, very few uncontested divorces are achieved without the assistance of expert support, including divorce attorneys. In some cases, parties may have a partial uncontested divorce, which means that they are able to develop an agreement on a certain number of these issues, but not all. In those cases, the court will step in and fill the gaps.

What is Contested Divorce?

A contested divorce, by contrast, is one in which the parties aren’t able to reach an agreement regarding this vital issues of the separation. Contested divorces happen a lot, because people often have difficulty reaching an agreement on sensitive issues, such as visitation and parenting. Often, one party wants to play a dominant role in a child’s development, but the same is true for the other parent; when this happens, it is necessary for the court to step in and provide an objective, fair assessment of the situation.

Courts in Connecticut will attempt to take a balanced view, weighing the competing interests of the parties, and also focusing their analysis on certain key factors. For instance, courts will look at the length of the marriage, the age of the parties, the circumstances of the marriage, the individual incomes of the parties, causes of the breakdown, and other factors when ruling on property division. When the court rules on child custody, the court may look at other factors, including the lifestyles of the parties, the needs of the child, the incomes of the parties, and so forth.

Contact an Experienced Connecticut Divorce Attorney to Learn More

As you can see, whether a divorce be either contested or uncontested is a very important determination, because these different processes carry very different implications. In many ways, it’s in your interests to develop an uncontested divorce, but this is much easier said than done. If you’re contemplating a divorce, reach out to an expert to assistance; a qualified divorce attorney can help you achieve the best possible outcome. Call the Apex Law Firm today at 860-900-0900 for more information.

What Happens During a Divorce Mediation in Connecticut?

Divorce is unquestionably among the most unpleasant experiences a person can go through. Part of the difficulty comes from the emotional toll that a divorce can impose upon people. Separating from someone to whom you were formerly committed can be devastating. Furthermore, divorce also typically imposes a stiff financial burden on the people involved. If the divorcing couple chooses to resolve the matter in court, the costs can quickly become astronomical.

Those contemplating divorce in Connecticut need to be aware of the potential benefits offered by mediation as opposed to litigation in court. In this post, we will go over some of the basics of mediation in Connecticut.

Mediation is an Alternative to Litigation

A mediation is a way to develop the agreements necessary to complete a formal divorce outside of the usual court system. In other words, it is distinct from the traditional court-based litigation which most people associate with divorce. In a mediation, both parties of the divorce will procure a mediator to act as a representative during the mediation process. Mediators are often attorneys, but non-attorney mediators are also common. The mediators will act as a conduit between the parties so that direct negotiation doesn’t have to take place. Given the emotions involved in divorce, this is often a necessity, and a major benefit of mediation.

Mediation will resolve all aspects of a divorce: property division, child support, alimony, division of retirement assets, and so forth. If the mediation is successful, you may not need to go to court at all.

The Finances of Mediation in Connecticut

Mediation can be a very cost-effective means to complete your divorce. In some cases, the financial comparison with a traditional court-based divorce can be extremely favorable. If you decide to take your case to a traditional litigation divorce attorney, you can expect to pay a retainer of $5,000 to $10,000 for a contested divorce. If the case is highly complex – that is, if it involves complicated child custody issues, property division, etc. – then the retainer could be substantially more. If you consider the hourly rates of most Connecticut divorce attorneys, your total cost can quickly become very high if you have a complicated situation.

By comparison, in most mediations, the total cost for both parties is usually less than the cost for one retainer fee for one of the parties. The average cost for a mediation is between $2,000 and $5,000. Most mediations can be resolved in 3 to 5 sessions which occur over the course of a few months. More complicated mediations can last for as long as 6 months, which is much quicker than most litigation cases, and so the emotional toll of a mediation is considerably lighter.

Mediation is Both Enforceable & Confidential

Those who are unfamiliar with mediation may wonder: are the agreements reached in mediation enforceable by courts? And, are the negotiations, and any other materials, used during the mediation confidential? The answer to both of these questions is “yes.” Once you reach an agreement via mediation, and both parties sign a separation agreement, that agreement is legally binding because it becomes an order of the court. In essence, you are asking the court to adopt your separation agreement as its order. Hence, mediation has achieved the same result as litigation, although typically at a much lower cost because the goal of mediation is to come to an agreement as opposed to fighting over things that may or may not matter. What’s more, any material used during the mediation process remain confidential.  

Contact Apex Law Firm for More Information

Mediation can be a very effective method to effect a separation in the State of Connecticut. If you are thinking about a divorce – painful though it may be – you should consider using mediation as an alternative to traditional litigation. If you’d like to learn more, please reach out to Apex Law Firm today for additional information. Call us at 860-900-0900.

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An Overview of Alimony in Connecticut Law

Alimony is a type of financial support which involves one person making payments (or giving a lump sum payment) to the other after a divorce. Alimony is spousal support which is distinguishable from property division and child support. Historically, alimony was considered a necessary arrangement because it was common for only one spouse to earn income during marriage. The legal system considered alimony to be a means to ensure that both the income-earning spouse and the non-income earning spouse maintained a lifestyle similar to the one they had before the divorce. Today, it’s much more common for both spouses to earn income, but alimony is still common because often one spouse earns more than the other. In these cases, alimony is likewise considered to be necessary.

Alimony law differs substantially throughout the country. Different jurisdictions have very different ways of granting, calculating, enforcing and maintaining alimony. In this post, we will present a broad overview of alimony law in Connecticut. In the future, we will come back and discuss specific Connecticut statutes in detail. For now, we will discuss a few general concepts which inform our readers about the law as it concerns alimony.

Three Types of Alimony Arrangements

There are various types of alimony arrangements in Connecticut. There is: nominal alimony, temporary alimony (better known as alimony pendent lite), rehabilitative alimony, lump sum alimony, and permanent alimony.

Nominal alimony may be appropriate when the present circumstances will not support a substantial award. Nominal awards are all that are necessary to afford the court continuing jurisdiction to make future modifications. Nominal alimony may only be one dollar per year with no preclusion of modification so that if the circumstances warrant, a change in the award can be obtained at some future date. This would come into play where, at the time of dissolution, the parties’ salaries are roughly equal and, with further effort, may increase significantly. Waiving alimony would permanently precluded either party from seeking alimony at a future date should those circumstances change, so nominal alimony would be the way to revisit that option at a later date.

Alimony pendent lite, or temporary alimony, is payable during the pendency of a divorce proceeding so as to enable a dependent spouse to proceed with or defend against the action. Even though both spouses commonly work, one spouse may earn more than the other and the divorce process is believed to be less burdensome on the higher-earning spouse. Temporary alimony is therefore useful to help balance out this situation.

Rehabilitative alimony is typically granted when there is a disparity in the income-earning potential between the spouses. In this situation, the rehabilitative alimony is granted for a short, but specific and terminable period of time, so that the spouse with lower earning potential can obtain the requisite skills and education to increase his or her earning power. This type of alimony will cease when recipient is in a position of self-support.

Lump-sum alimony usually refers to a specific amount and not necessarily a one-time payment. While it may be divided into installments, it is payable in full regardless of future events such as the death of the payee or the remarriage of the recipient.

Lastly, permanent alimony involves periodic payments to one spouse either for a determined period of time (typically half the length of the marriage) or indefinitely. Although rarely for the lifetime of the recipient, permanent alimony can occur when one spouse is unable to attain a lifestyle similar to the one enjoyed prior to divorce because of a disability or illness, advanced age, or for other reasons.

Awards Do Not Follow a Specific Formula

Courts in Connecticut have wide discretion when it comes to awarding alimony. When one spouse makes an alimony request, courts will consider a wide range of factors when making a determination. For instance, courts will consider the length of the marriage, the health of the spouses, each spouse’s education, skills, and income, whether child support has been granted, as well as other factors. These factors will influence both the eligibility of alimony altogether and the possible award. Despite that Connecticut is a no-fault divorce state, judges may also take causes for the dissolution into account when they issue their decision. For instance, if the divorce was precipitated by infidelity, it could impact the alimony determination.

Alimony Can Change Over Time

In principle, alimony is not a penalty, but is meant to assist one spouse for the purpose of making sure that the divorce doesn’t negatively impact that spouse’s lifestyle. What’s more, in the majority of cases, alimony is based on the assumption that the lower-earning spouse can ultimately attain a similar lifestyle after a period of time. This is why alimony arrangements are periodically reviewed and then modified depending on the circumstances. Once the lower-earning spouse attains a similar lifestyle, for instance, the arrangement may be terminated. Or, if the lower-earning spouse remarries, this may also warrant a modification. The key point is that arrangements are not static, but may be changed depending on the situation.

Contact Apex Law Firm for More Information

Alimony is a complex, and often contentious, issue within the context of divorce and family law. We’ve presented a broad overview here, and in the future we will come back and explore this issue in greater depth. Hopefully, this information provides a useful introduction to the topic of alimony in Connecticut. If you’d like to learn more, or you have a case involving alimony, get in touch with Apex Law Firm today. We handle family law matters on a regular basis. Call us at 860-385-8360 and we will assist you immediately.

Parenting Plans for Special Needs Children in CT

For couples with children, parenting plans are a vital element in divorce proceedings. While all plans must cater to the child’s best interests, parenting plans for a child with special needs requires careful deliberation.

A crucial decision that divorcing parents must make is regarding who is most suited for the child’s primary custody. In this decision, each parent’s emotional, mental, and financial well-being, as well as their living conditions and capability to care for a disabled child, must take precedence. 

Parenting Plan with Minimum Disruption of Routine

Special needs children, such as those with physical limitations, autism, developmental issues, educational needs, or medical conditions, require a parenting plan that causes minimal disruption to the child’s routine. It is critical for parenting plans for special needs children to be structured to offer consistent and reliable care.

The parent who has the primary custody of a special needs child should be able to cater to the physical demands, medical routines, and educational needs of the child as well as possess the skill and insight to manage the child’s disability.

A plan on the visitation schedule with the non-custodial parent must also focus on these issues in terms of overnight or extended visits. The non-custodial parent may have to consent to limit the frequency of their visits to minimize disruption, depending on the extent of the child’s disability.

The Positive Effect of a Collaborative Approach by Parents

To decide on how to make the necessary medical decisions for the special needs child, both parents will need to agree on a meticulous and detailed plan. It will be crucial to decide on aspects such as emergency circumstances, regular supervision, emotional or occupational therapy sessions, health insurance coverage, and financial matters on the child’s care.

In evaluating such considerations, the responsibility of caring for a disabled child should be distributed between both parents to prevent a particular parent from becoming overwhelmed with the care necessary for the child. Furthermore, these parenting plans should include educational decisions so that parents provide all the required support to ensure that the child develops into a well-adjusted adult.

The parents of a child with special needs will need to re-assess their plans to accommodate the child’s needs as they enter adulthood. The decisions on the care and supervision of a developmentally delayed adult should be overseen to ensure that both parents take responsibility for their care.

Medical insurance, estate planning, and social security benefits will make sure that their offspring are taken care of for a long time after they are no longer around.

Considerations in the Parenting Plan

Some important aspects to consider when setting forth a parenting plan for your special needs child are:

Routines are key

In the case of a child with special needs, consistency across homes is crucial. Routines can be important for the well-being of children with Autism, ADHD, and Anxiety, among others. Discuss and agree on routines that will be consistent across both homes, such as discipline, homework, parenting approaches, and bedtimes. In case you are unable to decide, consult a professional or clinician.

Be open to educating the non-primary caregiver parent.

Often, one parent is the point-person for treatment, care, homework, and other aspects. That parent may be concerned that the other cannot appropriately care for the child and may ask for greater custody. Regardless of the custody split, it is in the best interest of the child to share suggestions on how to best care for them. Being open to sharing and receiving is essential. This is not about control; the main goal is that the child gets the best attention possible.

Special needs section of the parenting plan

Develop a special needs section of your parenting plan where you agree on matters such as education, treatment, clinician contact, long-term care, and home modifications.

Appropriate caregivers if a parent is absent

If a parent is absent, discuss suitable caregivers, including the right of first refusal for the other parent to take charge, and document this decision.

Different needs of siblings

In case of siblings, it is essential to bear in mind that their needs might vary, including the custody decision. Sometimes, a special needs child may stay with one parent full-time while the siblings might go back and forth. Since every situation is unique, the parenting plan should address such nuances.

Remain in your lane

In case the other parent disagrees with you or struggles to care for the special needs child in the manner that you feel is appropriate, let it go provided there are no safety issues.

Be accommodating

While you may never want to lay eyes on each other again, this is not about your needs this time. Regardless of your feelings towards one another, remember to put the child’s interests before yours. At times, this means acknowledging that the child needs more time with the other parent.

Consult an Experienced Family Law Attorney in CT At APEX Law Firm, LLC, our legal team has handled countless divorce and co-parenting proceedings for families with unique situations. Our lawyers can help you determine what is in your child’s best interests, offering your child the best chance to live a happy and fulfilling life. For a free consultation with a compassionate and experienced family law attorney, message us online or call today at (860) 900-090

How Will Parenting Plans be Impacted by The Coronavirus?

Divorced parents in Connecticut and other parts of the country are faced with challenges related to parenting plans in the midst of an unprecedented Covid-19 crisis. Serious health concerns, regional lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders are forcing co-parents to adjust their routines for their minor children and modify their child custody and visitation schedules.

Wherever the co-parents share a relationship of mutual cooperation, it gets easier to manage their parenting plans in the current situation. But where the relationships are estranged and old wounds are still raw, the stressful situation created by the coronavirus pandemic can become even harder for the parents as well as child.

Disruption of Routines

Logistics present one of the key hurdles for many divorced parents at this time. If the co-parents reside in close vicinity, they may be used to exchanging children at the workplace, school or a shopping center. Most of these facilities are temporarily shut down.

Parents who reside afar or in different towns, they may risk violating the local shelter-in-place order if they decide to pick-up or drop-off their child. Where parents are based in separate states, the challenge is even bigger because they would probably not want to let the children fly down to meet the other parent in the present circumstances.

Safety and Medical Concerns

In the backdrop of Covid-19 pandemic, non-custodial parents are likely to have high concerns about the health and safety of their child. They may wonder about how far the custodial parent is committed about maintaining social distancing, following the best hygiene practices, and keeping the child safe.

Worries would increase the former spouse has a new partner, and there is no way to know how that person is keeping herself or himself safe to prevent the child from infection risks. The lack of control for the non-custodial parent becomes a serious issue in these times. It is important for the custodial parent to continually update and reassure the other parent that the child’s best interests are foremost on their mind at all times.

Current Custodial Orders Remain in Force

One of the hurdles for many divorced parents during the pandemic is that the family courts in the state and county are mostly closed and will only deal with unavoidable emergency matters such as child abuse or endangerment. Child custody modifications may not be a priority matter for the courts right now.

Therefore, even where the co-parents are willing to modify their current child custody agreements legally, they may not be able to do so. In this situation, it is best for the parties to consult with an experienced family law attorney in Connecticut.

If the co-parents are making some adjustments to the original custody agreement to cope with the prevailing Covid-19 situation, they should do it in writing under the advice of their lawyer. Physical copies of any correspondence in this regard should be preserved.

Interpretation of divorce laws are equally vague in Connecticut, where attorneys are advising clients to put any temporary tweaks to the original custody agreement in writing, save hard copies of all correspondence about changes to the agreement, and embrace flexibility on both sides.

Increase Virtual Communication

A knowledgeable divorce lawyer would encourage the co-parents to adapt to the new temporary circumstances and embrace flexibility. They should organize virtual meetings using Zoom, FaceTime, or Skype. This will make up for the lost time for the non-custodial parent and also provide the child an opportunity to interact with the parent during this difficult period.

Video communication between co-parents will always be more effective than a phone call, text or email, and they can arrive at mutual acceptable solutions regarding the parenting plans as long as the crisis lasts. An attorney can encourage the divorced parents to adjust their parenting schedules in such a way that the non-custodial parent gets additional time with the child at a later stage when the pandemic risks have cleared up.

If the custodial parent is a healthcare worker and going through rigorous work schedules while also being exposed to higher risks of infection, they might consider allowing the child to be in the care of the other parent until the situation gets better.

In a high conflict divorce, it may be more difficult to make adjustments to parenting plans during the coronavirus crisis. An uncooperative custodial parent might try to use the pandemic as an excuse to prevent the other parent from interacting with the child.

These are potentially complex situations where it can help if you have a seasoned divorce attorney by your side to provide legal guidance and support.

We are Here to Help

The skilled and compassionate legal team at APEX Law Firm, LLC is here to help you during the Covid-19 crisis and beyond for all your family law issues. If you are concerned about issues such as child custody, visitation and support during these times, our seasoned attorneys will provide you the right legal advice. Call us at (860) 900-0900 today to schedule a consultation with our Connecticut divorce lawyers today.

Do Children Have a Say in The Child Custody Conversation in CT?

Common questions after a divorce center on aspects such as which parent will have primary custody of the child, and what the visitation rights of the other parent will consist of. These types of elements can be one of the most challenging facets of separation.

Parents often do not want to place their kids amidst a custody battle. However, they may want to understand whether children have a voice in the custody discussion in Connecticut.

Under what circumstances will a Judge Consider a Child’s Preference?

Connecticut does not have a specific age at which a court must consider a child’s preference. Regardless, a judge will usually consider the opinion of minors aged 13 years or above and disregard the preferences of children who are five years old or younger.

But when a child is aged between five and 13 years, the court determines whether the opinions of the child are relevant to the custody determination on an individual case basis.

The court will hear a child’s preference, and then try to understand whether the child is making a judicious choice about the parent they want to reside with instead of just an impulsive decision based on immediate choices.

For instance, a judge is not likely to see a child’s preference as relevant if it is based on temporary anger against one parent or the child’s child-like proclivities. But if the child’s choices are based on a genuine reason, such as a close relationship with one parent or a better school opportunity, courts are more inclined to consider it.

Upon determining that a child’s preference is relevant to the custody determination, the judge will decide how much weight the preference warrants in comparison to other custody factors. The child’s reasoning for the preference and their maturity level can impact how much importance the court assigns to their opinion.

If a judge determines that the preference is not in the best interests of the child, they can disregard the opinion.

Is it Necessary for Children to Testify about their Custody Preferences in Court?

The legal system in Connecticut is very sensitive to the challenges a child might face when called to testify in court. In general, a child will not need to testify on the witness stand in front of a judge. It is more common for the judge to seek the parent’s permission to speak to the child in chambers, without the presence of the parents.

In case the parents choose not to agree to the interview, the judge may gauge the child’s preference through a psychiatrist, a family-relations counselor, or a psychologist who can talk to the child and provide the court with a report.

A judge may also hear limited remarks of other witnesses who have interacted with the child. However, this testimony will not be given as much importance as the child’s direct statements.

If the parents agree to an in-chambers interview, their lawyers may observe. To ensure that the child is not overly stressed, the judge will typically ask questions (not lawyers). But the attorneys can recommend topics or issues that should be addressed.

In case a lawyer is representing the child, they will be present. For children who do not have attorneys, a domestic relations officer might be present during the interview to represent the interests of the child.

Finally, a court reporter will typically record the interview. In the absence of a court reporter, the judge must make their own records by restating the interview content and allowing others present to add their observations.

Courts are also vigilant for any indication that the child has been coached by one parent to testify in their favor or against the other parent. If a parent attempts to steer the child’s testimony in any direction, it can go against them in the judge’s custodial determination.

An Out-of-Court Child Custody Agreement in Your Child’s Interest

Instead of putting an innocent child in the middle of a legal battle, arriving at an out-of-court arrangement is almost always better. The advantages of a custody arrangement out-of-court are as follows:

Less acrimony

It can be a very emotional, challenging, and contentious process to go to court for anyone, more so a child.

Less Time

If your divorce is on the verge of being finalized, working with the other parent to arrive at an out-of-court custodial arrangement can make the process faster.

More Amicable Parenting Plan

No one wants to be told by a judge how much time they will be allowed to spend with their child. However, if you and your spouse cooperate to decide this, you will likely create a parenting plan that both parties are comfortable with.

Speak to an Experienced Family Law Attorney Today

The knowledgeable and compassionate attorneys at APEX Law Firm, LLC understand how challenging it can be to reach an agreement regarding the custody of a child. Our experienced lawyers can guide you in the development of a parenting plan as well as represent you at negotiation, mediation, and litigation.

During this unprecedented time for our country, the Connecticut courts are closed for all but emergency hearings. This means family legal matters such as divorce and child custody proceedings will move much more slowly until the courts reopen and clear their backlog of cases.

At the APEX Law Firm, LLC, we want you to know that we are here for you during this difficult time. Like everyone else, we are doing most of our work remotely as we follow social distancing guidelines, and of course the wheels of justice are turning more slowly these days. But even in the face of all this, we are still well-equipped to continue providing the strong personalized representation our clients have come to expect.

Message us online or call us today at (860) 900-0900 to set-up a consultation with our Connecticut family law attorneys.

Raising Children After a Divorce

Joint custody or shared custody in a Connecticut divorce occurs when a court awards the child’s care equally to both parents. Except when issues such as child abuse, drug abuse or domestic violence are involved in a divorce, courts usually prefer to have both parents take an active role in their child’s upbringing.

Research has shown that the nature of the relationship between divorced parents will have an impact on the child’s emotional and psychological well-being. However, it requires some commitment and creative effort from both parents to manage a healthy and positive child rearing after a divorce.

Making it Work

When you are going through the divorce process, it is important to recognize that your marriage might have ended, but your family has not. Your foremost priority should be to act in the best interests of your child. That means responsible and mature co-parenting and placing your child’s needs before your own at all times.

You can begin on this new but constructive path after your divorce by separating your personal relationship with your ex-spouse from your new relationship with him or her as a co-parent. It will help if you and the other parent can both understand that your new relationship as co-parents is not about either of you, but entirely about the happy and healthy rearing of your children.

Never Put Your Child in the Middle

While it is understandable that your bitterness or resentment about your marriage dissolution may never completely disappear, you need to compartmentalize your emotions. Keep reminding yourself that your issues with your former spouse are not your child’s issues. Therefore, your child need not carry the same bitterness or resentment against the other parent.

Do not use your children as messengers

If you try to convey any messages to the other parent through your kids, you are putting them at the center of your personal conflict. Call, text or email your former spouse directly when you have to and keep the children out of your relationship issues.

Never speak negatively to the child about the co-parent

If you have strong feelings against your ex-spouse, keep them to yourself. Do not make negative comments about him or her in front of your child, and never make them feel as if they have to choose their loyalties. Allow your child the right to maintain a positive relationship with their other parent without any pressure or influence.

Maintain Constructive Communication with the Co-Parent

Positive communication with your former spouse begins with listening. When you listen patiently, you are conveying to the other parent that you respect their point of view regarding child rearing, even if you may not agree with it.

Exercise restraint in your speech

Communicating as co-parents is most likely going to be unavoidable through the entire length of your child’s younger years (if not longer). Practice restraint and train your mind to not overreact to anything that the other party may say. Over time, you will learn to switch off the emotional buttons he or she may try to press.

Commit to frequent engagement

While it is going to be tough in the initial stages after your divorce, regular and consistent engagement with your former spouse will make life easier for everyone. When you communicate frequently with the co-parent, your children will feel more secure and start believing they have a united force to protect them.

Restrict conversations to children’s issues

During your exchanges with your ex, never allow the conversation to digress into conflicting areas related to your needs or the other party’s needs. All communication should always be only about your child’s needs.   

Make Key Decisions about Your Child Jointly

All major decisions about your child’s life should involve both you and the other parent. In the best interests of your child, it is vital for you to be forthcoming and transparent about important issues concerning your child.

Healthcare needs

Whether you both attend the child’s medical appointments together, or mutually decide to designate one of you to engage primarily with the medical professionals, keep one another updated and informed.

Education needs

Following a divorce, make sure that you inform your child’s school about the changed situation at your home. Talk ahead of time with the other parent about class and exam schedules, parent-teacher conferences, extra-curricular activities, and events where your child is participating.

Financial needs

Financial issues related to the child’s expenses often become a bone of contention between co-parents. Create a mutually agreeable budget and maintain updated records for all shared expenses. If the co-parent provides an opportunity for your child that you could not provide, accept it graciously.

Schedule a Free Initial Consultation with an Accomplished Divorce Attorney

If you are contemplating a divorce or going through divorce or child custody proceedings, you need strong legal counsel by your side. Speak to the experienced Connecticut divorce lawyers at APEX Law Firm, LLC today. Call us at 860-900-0900 or contact us online for a consultation.

Custody and Moving Out of State: What Rights do Non-Custodial Parents Have?

You thought your marriage would last forever. Then life kicked in. Stress, money, kids – all can dissolve a relationship. The dissolution of a marriage can take up to a year (or longer) to complete in Connecticut. A divorce can be no-fault or fault-based.  Generally speaking, most divorces are no-fault which means the marriage has broken down.

If there are minor children, the first thing to be decided is who will the children live with. That person is called the custodial parent and their home is the child’s Primary Residence. The other parent is non-custodial. If there is no reason to keep the children from the non-custodial parent, a liberal visitation schedule can be worked out.

Parents can share both legal and physical custody when they choose to co-parent but if there is drug use involved or any irresponsible behavior, the custodial-parent can petition the court and allege that the children are not safe in the non-custodial parent’s custody. The custodial parent must be able to make his or her case with evidence. That might take the form of DUI convictions, auto accidents, a criminal record, or citations of any sort.

Relocating with the Child

One parent may say he needs to or wants to move out of state to take a new job or to start over. The other parent must be notified and have an opportunity to file an objection with the court.

Depending on your circumstances, a judge could prevent relocation with the child. Your physical and legal custody will be taken into consideration and the judge will focus on the child’s best interest. Are the parents financially stable? Does each parent have a relationship with the child? Is there any history of violence or drug use or mental illness? Are the parents co-parenting with the child’s best interests in mind? The judge may have to modify the custody arrangement including visitation and determine whether the move is necessary. 

At a relocation proceeding, each parent can present his or her point-of-view.

One parent may challenge the other’s real need to move and/or whether it is in the best interests of the child. Are there better educational opportunities that come with the move? Will an improved financial picture result? Does the custodial parent who wants to move have a healthy relationship with the children and will they continue to be well cared for? Will the move place an unfair burden on the non-custodial parent and his/her relationship with the child? If the child is older, his or her feelings about a relocation will be taken into consideration as well.

The Importance of Co-Parenting

All of these issues – child custody, child visitation, and child support – should be worked out between the custodial parent and non-custodial parent in a parenting plan. Not only will the children appreciate parents who can get along, but a parenting plan will save time and money otherwise spent on lawyers to fight for each side. Otherwise, the proceedings can drag on indefinitely.  

There is nothing more stressful than facing the potential loss of time with your child. The experienced attorneys at Upton Law Firm work closely with our clients and the court to provide the guidance you need to move through this difficult period of your life.

Call our office today at (860) 900-0900. You may also send us a message through our online contact form or stop by our Hartford County office in person at your convenience.

Can Divorce Impact my Credit Score?

Getting a divorce is a major step that will impact your life in numerous ways. You will need to figure out living arrangements, your overall income and net worth will most likely drop, and if you have children together with your spouse, you will need to figure out how you will parent them while living separate lives.  

While a marriage dissolution will almost certainly affect your financial circumstances, it does not have a direct impact on your credit score. Just like when you get married, the act of filing for divorce does not cause the credit reporting agencies to lower your score. So, all things being equal, the divorce itself will not negatively affect your ability to obtain credit.

Unfortunately, things do not remain “equal” after a divorce. The effects of the process can and often do impact your credit score. There are things that can occur in conjunction with a divorce that can adversely affect your credit. Here are three of the most common examples:

Tighter Finances

The cost of a divorce and/or the decrease in income that results from it can make it more difficult for you to pay your bills. This is especially true if your spouse was the primary breadwinner.  One of the major factors in determining your credit score is on-time payments. Usually, a payment that is a day or two late is not going to get recorded on your credit report. However, if you are 30 days (or more) late with your payments, this can cause your credit score to drop significantly. If at all possible, try to pay at least the minimum amount due before the due date to avoid this happening.

Another factor that credit agencies looking at is your credit usage. If you are forced to use a higher percentage of your credit limits because of your divorce, this could also cause your score to drop. Watch your credit limits carefully and try to save as much of your credit as possible for emergencies.

A Deadbeat Spouse

Most couples have some joint credit accounts, and these accounts can become a major problem during a divorce. Examples of joint accounts may include your home mortgage, auto loans, joint credit cards, and joint personal loans. Although the court may have ruled that your ex-spouse is responsible for certain joint accounts, this is no guarantee that they’re going to get paid. And if these bills don’t get paid, your credit score is going to suffer.

Perhaps your ex-spouse is not as concerned about his/her credit as you are. This is often the case when one spouse was in charge of the finances in the household, and the other has always been weak in this area. If you have accounts that are in both of your names, keep a close eye on them, even if your ex-spouse is the one who is supposed to pay them. You may need to make at least minimum payments on these accounts to protect your credit for the time being. Later on, you can try to recover the funds directly from your ex or through the courts.

A Vindictive Spouse

This third issue is similar to the previous one but taken to a greater extreme. Rather than your ex-spouse just not paying their bills, you may end up with a situation where they purposely run up credit out of spite or grief over the divorce. This happens most commonly when a spouse is an authorized user on another spouse’s individual credit account. The spouse who is an authorized user can run up charges without any consequences, leaving you to pay the bill. To prevent this from happening, take steps immediately once you know you’re getting a divorce to remove your spouse from any accounts that are in your name. It would also be a good idea to close any joint credit accounts that have little to no balance on them. Do everything possible to separate yourself from your spouse financially. This is the best way to limit the chances of your credit being damaged during the divorce process.

Contact an Experienced Connecticut Family Law Attorney

If you are facing a divorce in Connecticut, it will affect your life in many ways, and you need skilled counsel in your corner to provide legal guidance and moral support. At The APEX Law Firm, LLC, we know that divorce is costly both emotionally and financially, and we give our clients the strong personalized representation they need during this difficult time. Call our office today at (860) 900-0900 to schedule a consultation. You may also send us a message through our web contact form or stop by our Hartford County office in person at your convenience.

Steps to Filing a Connecticut Divorce

In Connecticut, either spouse can file for a divorce, also known as a “dissolution of marriage”, and the process takes several months up to a year or longer to complete. The time frame to complete a divorce depends on numerous factors, such as the complexity of the issues that need to be resolved, the willingness of the spouses to cooperate during the process, and many others.  

For example, if you and your spouse both agree to proceed with the divorce, and you have very few assets and no children, you may be able to complete the process in as little as three months. On the other hand, if there are significant marital assets that need to be divided, issues involving children (e.g., child support, child custody and visitation), a request for alimony, and similarly complex issues in which the spouses are not in agreement, the process can drag on for quite a bit longer.

Connecticut has both fault-based and no-fault divorces. A spouse may choose to file for a fault-based divorce on one of the acceptable grounds, such as:

Parties may ask for a fault-based divorce in order to gain an advantage over the other spouse during the proceeding on issues such as division of assets, spousal support, and child custody. These types of cases require specific proof of spousal misconduct, however, and this can make them more complicated and costlier to pursue. For this reason, the most common type of divorce in Connecticut is a no-fault divorce.

With a no-fault divorce, the reason can be as vague as “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.” In other words, the couple has irreconcilable differences, and the marriage is broken beyond repair. You can also file a no-fault divorce if you and your spouse have lived apart continuously for a period of at least 18 months.

Steps in a CT Divorce

Once you have decided to file for a divorce and decided whether to opt for a fault-based or no-fault divorce, there are several steps that must be completed in the process:

Meeting Residency Requirements

For a court in Connecticut to have jurisdiction over your case, you or your spouse needs to meet one of the following residency requirements:

Filing the Paperwork

There are three or four main forms that need to be filed to initiate the divorce process in CT:

  • The summons is filed by the plaintiff spouse notifying the defendant spouse of the dissolution of marriage filing.
  • The complaint lists the reason for divorce, and other personal information about you, your spouse, and any children that you may have.
  • This form is filed along with the complaint, and it lists the obligations the spouses have with regards to assets and children. Examples may include prohibitions on selling, gifting, or borrowing against any property, running up unreasonable credit card debt or other types of personal loans on a joint account, changing beneficiaries on insurance policies, and many others.
  • This form lists information about the children, such as who they are currently residing with and any prior custody and visitation issues.

Waiting Period and Negotiations

Once the paperwork has been filed and the defendant spouse has been served, a 90-day waiting period ensues. During the waiting period, (the period leading up to your case management date) the parties and their attorneys typically enter into negotiations in an attempt to reach a settlement. If a settlement agreement can be reached, a final hearing is held, the agreement becomes a court order, and the dissolution of marriage is finalized. If the parties are unable to reach a settlement, the case proceeds to trial.

Divorce Litigation

Negotiations may continue up until the date that the divorce trial begins, and if the parties are still not able to come to an agreement, then they proceed with litigation. During litigation, both sides present evidence and argue their cases, and the judge hears and evaluates the arguments and renders a final decision on the issues that are in dispute.

Facing a Divorce in CT? Speak with an Experienced Family Law Attorney

If you are considering filing for a divorce in Connecticut, you need skilled legal counsel by your side advocating forcefully for your rights and interests. At The Apex Law Firm, LLC, we understand that divorce can be a difficult and confusing process, and we work closely with our clients to provide strong legal guidance and moral support during this turbulent time. For a consultation with one of our attorneys, call our office today at (860) 900-0900. You may also send us a message through our online contact form or stop by our Hartford County office in person at your convenience.