The Sol Mahoney Law Firm
Family Law – The practice of addressing the legal aspects of family relationships, rights, duties, and finances. This includes divorce, child custody, asset division, post-judgment modification, alimony, child support, pre and post nuptial agreements, and relocation motions.
Civil Union – The Connecticut General Statutes allows a person to enter a civil union who is not a party in another marriage or civil union, is of the same sex as the other party to the civil union, is at least 18 years of age, and not kindred prohibited from entering into civil union under section 46b-38cc. Parties to a civil union should be afforded the same benefits, protections and responsibilities as spouses in a marriage.
Divorce – The legal process of terminating your marital relationship with your spouse. This process is done through the Connecticut court system with all agreed upon terms of the divorce being memorialized in an agreement.
No-Fault - No-fault divorce is the most common kind of divorce in Connecticut. In a no-fault divorce, neither spouse has to prove that the other spouse caused the marriage to end. One just has to show that there was an irretrievable breakdown in the marriage.
Annulment – The granting of an annulment occurs when the court decides that the marriage was invalid or voidable and therefore the marriage is treated as though it never happened in the first place. Examples of marriages that are void are bigamous or incestuous marriages. Examples of grounds that would make a marriage viodable are fraud, physical or mental incapacity, and force or duress.
Summons – The summons is served on the spouse when initiating the divorce and includes the return date and the case management date.
Complaint – A complaint represents the beginning of the legal divorce proceeding. It contains the reasons a divorce action is being initiated.
Answer/cross complaint – After a spouse has been served with a summons and complaint they will then retain an attorney and file their response in the form of an answer and cross-complaint.
Automatic Orders - automatic orders go into effect when the dissolution action is started and state (1)]Neither party shall permanently remove the minor child or children from the state of Connecticut, without written consent of the other or order of a judicial authority. (2) A party vacating the family residence shall notify the other party or the other party's attorney, in writing, within forty-eight hours of such move, of an address where the relocated party can receive communication. This provision shall not apply if and to the extent there is a prior, contradictory order of a judicial authority. (3) If the parents of minor children live apart during this proceeding, they shall assist their children in having contact with both parties, which is consistent with the habits of the family, personally, by telephone, and in writing. This provision shall not apply if and to the extent there is a prior, contradictory order of a judicial authority. (4) Neither party shall cause the children of the marriage or the civil union to be removed from any medical, hospital and dental insurance coverage, and each party shall maintain the existing medical, hospital and dental insurance coverage in full force and effect. (5) The parties shall participate in the parenting education program within sixty days of the return day or the complaint or within sixty days from the filing of the application or verified petition. (6) These orders do not change or replace any existing court orders, including criminal protective and civil restraining orders. In all cases involving a marriage or civil union, whether or not there are children: (1)]Neither party shall sell, transfer, exchange, assign, remove, or in any way dispose of, without the consent of the other party in writing, or an order of a judicial authority, any property, except in the usual course of business or for customary and usual household expenses or for reasonable attorney's fees in connection with this action. (2) Neither party shall conceal any property. (3) Neither party shall encumber (except for the filing of a lis pendens) without the consent of the other party, in writing, or an order of a judicial authority, any property except in the usual course of business or for customary and usual household expenses or for reasonable attorney's fees in connection with this action. (4) Neither party shall cause any asset, or portion thereof, co-owned or held in joint name, to become held in his or her name solely without the consent of the other party, in writing, or an order of the judicial authority. (5) Neither party shall incur unreasonable debts hereafter, including, but not limited to, further borrowing against any credit line secured by the family residence, further encumbrancing any assets, or unreasonably using credit cards or cash advances against credit cards. (6) Neither party shall cause the other party to be removed from any medical, hospital and dental insurance coverage, and each party shall maintain the existing medical, hospital and dental insurance coverage in full force and effect. (7) Neither party shall change the beneficiaries of any existing life insurance policies, and each party shall maintain the existing life insurance, automobile insurance, homeowners or renters insurance policies in full force and effect. (8) If the parties are living together on the date of service of these orders, neither party may deny the other party use of the current primary residence of the parties, whether it be owned or rented property, without order of a judicial authority. This provision shall not apply if there is a prior, contradictory order of a judicial authority.
Pendente Lite motions – These are motions made during the divorce process. They are typically requests for alimony, child support, custody/visitation and attorney’s fees. These issues are either agreed to or decided by the court and they are only temporary orders until the final dissolution occurs.
Case Management Date – This date is about 90 days from the date of filing the complaint and it is the first opportunity the parties have to finalize the divorce in court if all the terms have been agreed to.
Alimony – There is periodic and lump sum alimony and Rehabilitative alimony. Factors that determine amount and duration of alimony include but are not limited to: i. Length of marriage
ii. Cause of Dissolution
iii. Age of the Parties
iv. Health of the Parties
v. Station of the Parties
vi. Occupation and amount and sources of income
vii. Vocational skills and employability
viii. Estate of the parties
ix. Needs of the parties
Family Relations – This is an extension of the court consisting of trained mediators who have extensive family law experience. Parties will be instructed to meet with Family Relations to try to reach an agreement on the issue at hand without having to present to the judge.
Post-nuptial - An agreement entered by spouses in an attempt to resolve issues and relieve stressors in the marriage. Some items post nuptial agreements address include finances, assets, children, chores, etc. Postnuptial agreements are also used by spouses as a way of controlling certain behaviors, such as adultery or over spending. Post-nuptial agreements are not recognized by Connecticut Statutes.
Pre-nuptial – A Pre-nuptial agreement occurs before the marriage with the intent of dividing assets and coming to terms on key issues in the event there is a divorce. These are usually requested when there is significant money or assets owned by one party entering the marriage. It is a way to attempt to protect ones assets. The Connecticut Statutes provide that a prenuptial agreement will not be enforced if:
1. a party did not execute the agreement voluntarily;
2. the agreement was very one-sided and completely unfair to the other party when it was executed or when enforcement is sought;
3. there was not full financial disclosure prior to the execution of the agreement; or
4. a party was not afforded the opportunity to consult with an attorney. High asset divorce – A high asset divorce is more complex with respect to division of assets. It is not uncommon for an attorney to consult with forensic accountants, tax attorneys, CPA’s and appraisers when determining the value of the marital assets and or the assets of an estate. These outside experts may be brought in to testify regarding valuation of businesses and property as well as a spouses future earning capacity. Same-sex divorce - Connecticut recognizes same sex marriages that occur in Connecticut and in other states as legal. Therefore, all laws pertaining to divorce in Connecticut apply to a same-sex divorce. Mandatory production and disclosure – At a minimum the following items be exchanged by the parties:
9. 3 years federal and state income tax returns
ii. 3 years IRS forms W-2, 1099 and K-1
iii. Copies of all pay stubs or other evidence of income for the current year and the last pay stub from the past year
iv. Bank account statements for the past 24 months
v. The most recent statement showing any interest in any IRA, deferred compensation plan, retirement account, Keogh, profit sharing plan, or retirement account.
vi. A summary provided by the employer of the party’s medical insurance policy, coverage, cost of coverage, spousal benefits, and COBRA costs following dissolution.
vii. Appraisals concerning any asset owned by the parties ie. House.
Financial affidavit – Both parties must present this information to the other party 5 days before any motion for alimony, support or counsel fees. The information on the form must include the last 13 weeks of income, liabilities, bank accounts and assets.
Appeal - An appeal is filed when a party wishes to challenge an order of the court and have the issue reviewed by a higher court. There are very strict and specific time frames, processes and information that need to be adhered to for an appeal. If you are seeking an appeal contact an attorney immediately.
Contempt – When a party does not abide by a court order the opposing party can file a motion for contempt. This motion is heard by the judge who then rules on the motion.
Modification – A motion for modification is filed when one wants to change a current court order. The court must first find that there is a substantial change in circumstances by one or both of the parties before it can hear the motion.
Mediation – Mediation is when both parties agree to use a neutral third party, typically an attorney with significant family law experience, to listen to the issues and help the parties come to an agreement. A mediator does not “decide” the issues…they facilitate negotiation and lend the information which provides the framework for resolution.
Special Masters – These are experienced family law attorneys who volunteer their time to attempt to resolve conflicts in divorce cases. They hear both sides rendition of the story and make a recommendation on the result they believe would occur if the case went to trial. The recommendations of the special master are not binding, but, they can help the parties decide whether to settle their divorce case, or take it to trial.
Change of name – You may request that your legal name be returned to your maiden name.
Final dissolution – You did it. Once an agreement is made and drafted you go to court to finalize the divorce. The important terms of the agreement are read into the record, in front of the judge, and both parties are asked if they agree with the dissolution document.
QDROS/DROS - A Qualified domestic relations order or QDRO is a legal order subsequent to a divorce or legal separation that splits and changes ownership of a retirement plan to give the divorced spouse their share of the asset or pension plan.
Financial Affidavit Form
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