Year: 2020

How Is Life Insurance Treated In A Connecticut Divorce Case?

By: Sarah E. Murray

How Do You Obtain Information Regarding Your Spouse’s Life Insurance Coverage During A Connecticut Divorce?

As part of the discovery (i.e., information gathering) phase of any Connecticut divorce case, it is critical that both sides disclose to one another information regarding any life insurance policies in place at the time, including life insurance policies provided through employment and life insurance policies held in a life insurance trust.  Each party has an obligation to disclose any life insurance policies on his or her life on a financial affidavit.  Even if a life insurance policy is held in a life insurance trust, it should still be disclosed on a financial affidavit, though not all parties do so.  It is common practice for Fairfield County divorce attorneys to request copies of life insurance policies and life insurance trusts as part of their formal discovery requests in order to obtain necessary information about insurance coverage.

Can A Party Change The Beneficiary Of His Or Her Life Insurance Policies During A Connecticut Divorce?

In Connecticut, changing the beneficiary of life insurance policies while the divorce action is pending is a violation of the automatic orders.  If a divorce attorney discovers that the opposing party has changed the beneficiary of his or her life insurance policy during the pendency of the case from his or her spouse to someone else, or has let the policies lapse by failing to pay the premiums, he or she can file a motion in order to request remedies from the court.

Is Life Insurance Considered Property That Can Be Divided By A Court?

Generally speaking, life insurance policies are not assets divisible by a Connecticut court.  The cash value of any whole life insurance policies, however, is an asset that can be divided in a divorce case.  Typically, the spouse who owns the whole life policy will keep the policy and the other spouse will receive an asset equivalent to his or her one-half share of the cash value.

Will Life Insurance Be Included In The Final Orders In A Connecticut Divorce?

Under Connecticut law, particularly General Statutes Section 46b-82, Courts can order that life insurance be maintained as security for a party’s alimony, child support, and/or college obligations.

Typically, the insured party will be the owner of the life insurance policy or policies, but sometimes parties negotiate for the other spouse to own the policy or policies. Experienced Fairfield County divorce attorneys will include provisions in a separation agreement stating that the insured party must provide proof of insurance coverage and beneficiary designation to the other party periodically in order to ensure that the agreed-upon life insurance coverage is in place. The parties can also agree that the life insurance company provides notification directly to the non-insured party if the life insurance policy lapses or if the premiums are not paid on time so that the non-insured party can seek the appropriate remedies.

How Are Life Insurance Trusts Treated During A Connecticut Divorce?

It is common in Fairfield County for divorce clients to have life insurance trusts that own their life insurance policies.  In cases where there is a life insurance trust, the divorce attorneys must obtain a copy of the trust in order to review the terms.  Some life insurance trusts exclude the other spouse as a beneficiary upon the filing of a divorce action and others exclude an ex-spouse.  Many times, experienced divorce attorneys will work with the parties’ estate planning attorneys in order to determine the terms of the trust and how best to accomplish the parties’ goals regarding life insurance coverage post-divorce.   

What If A Party Cannot Afford Life Insurance?   

General Statutes Section 46b-82 provides that a party may not be ordered to maintain life insurance after the divorce if he or she can prove by a preponderance of the evidence that he or she is uninsurable or cannot pay the cost of the life insurance premiums.  If a party has health issues or has other reasons, including age, for not being able to afford life insurance, he or she can request that life insurance not be ordered, or that a reduced amount of coverage be ordered.

Is A Life Insurance Obligation Modifiable?    

Unless there is an order precluding a party from modifying his or her life insurance obligation, most life insurance orders in Connecticut are modifiable by law if a party can prove a substantial change in circumstances.

Broder Orland Murray & DeMattie LLC is a Westport and Greenwich matrimonial law firm.  We have experience in dealing with life insurance coverage issues and can work with clients to ensure they are best protected, whether during or after a divorce.

My Spouse Wants A Divorce, But I Don’t – What Can I Do?

Do I Need To Consent To A Divorce?

No. In Connecticut, only one spouse needs to file for divorce. The other spouse does not need to consent to a Connecticut divorce action being filed.

What Are My Options If I Don’t Want A Divorce?

Once a divorce action has been filed by one spouse, there are limited options for the other spouse. Couples could attempt marriage counseling, or a party could request that the case be put on conciliation Status.

What Is Conciliation Status?

Conciliation status gives the parties an opportunity to work on their marriage with a conciliator while a divorce action is pending. Conciliation status is governed by Connecticut General Statutes Section 46b-53.

When Can I File For Conciliation Status?

A party in a Connecticut divorce may file for conciliation status on or after the return date of a complaint and prior to the expiration date of the ninety-day waiting period after the return date of a complaint.

Does My Spouse Need To Consent To Conciliation Status?

After a request for conciliation status has been submitted to the clerk, the clerk shall forthwith enter an Order that the parties meet with a mutually acceptable conciliator, and if they cannot agree as to a conciliator, then with a conciliator named by the court.

Who Is An Acceptable Conciliator?

The conciliator must be a clergyman, a physician, a domestic relations officer, or a person experienced in marriage counseling.

Are The Meetings With The Conciliator Mandatory?

Yes. There shall be two mandatory consultations with the conciliator by each party to explore the possibility of reconciliation or of resolving the emotional problems which might lead to continuing conflicts following the dissolution of marriage.

What Happens If A Party Does Not Attend The Mandatory Meetings?

Failure of either party to attend the two mandatory meetings, except for good cause, shall preclude further action on the complaint until the expiration of six months from the date of the return date of the complaint; provided, the court may order the termination of such stay, upon a Motion of either party for good cause shown.

Can We Attend More Than The Two Mandatory Meetings?

Yes. Further consultations may be held if both parties consent, or if the conciliator recommends additional consultations and either one of the parties agrees, the court may order additional consultations.

Are Conciliation Sessions Privileged?

Yes. All communications during these sessions are absolutely privileged, except the conciliator shall report to the court whether or not the parties attended the consultations.

Can A Divorce Action Be Withdrawn?

Yes. A Connecticut divorce action may be unilaterally withdrawn by the plaintiff, however, if a cross-complaint has been filed by the defendant, the divorce can proceed on the defendant’s cross-complaint.

At Broder & Orland LLC, with offices in Westport and Greenwich, we understand that going through a divorce can be a difficult process. We regularly work with and refer parties to therapists and mental health professionals in order to assist one or both parties with issues they may face during the proceedings. In the event, the divorce action does proceed, our skilled attorneys will be there to guide you through the process from start to finish.

How Are 401(k), IRA & Pension Assets Divided In A Connecticut Divorce?

Unless there is a prenuptial or postnuptial or divorce agreement that provides otherwise, retirement accounts will be allocated between the spouses in a divorce. Even if a retirement account is titled in the name of one spouse, or is an employer-sponsored plan, there are still ways to either divide the plan between the parties or to use other assets to offset it in equitable distribution.

Determine What Type Of Retirement Account Do You Have.

Retirement plans are either qualified or non-qualified. The most common types of qualified retirement accounts are 401(k)s, 403(b)s, SEP-IRAs, profit-sharing plans, and certain pension plans. A qualified retirement plan is one that meets guidelines issued by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) regarding participation, vesting, benefit accrual, and fund information. When a retirement plan meets ERISA guidelines, it is considered a “qualified” plan and is eligible for certain tax benefits.

Non-qualified retirement plans include certain IRAs, deferred compensation plans, executive bonus plans, and annuities.

When you are getting divorced, it is important to know whether a retirement account is a qualified plan or a non-qualified plan in order to determine whether it is divisible via a Qualified Domestic Relations Order. If your plan documents do not specifically state whether the account is qualified, you will have to check with the plan administrator.

What Is A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO)?

A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is a Court Order that instructs a retirement plan administrator how to divide a retirement account between parties. If a retirement account is a qualified plan and can be divided by QDRO, the retirement account is capable of being separated between the parties without penalty. This is preferable because the non-employee spouse’s share can be deposited into a separate account, allowing for each party to manage his or her portion of the retirement funds individually.

Most divorce decrees will set forth the specific division of the retirement account that is agreed upon by the parties (or ordered by a Judge after a divorce trial), and provide for the parties to jointly hire an individual whose expertise is in the drafting of QDROs to prepare the QDRO and submit it to the Court for approval. Once approved by the Judge, the QDRO will be sent to the retirement plan administrator to effectuate the division of the account.

How Do We Divide A 401(k)?

As a qualified plan, a 401(k) is capable of being divided between spouses by QDRO. Accordingly, you and your spouse can either agree to divide the account by percentage or by dollar amount.

How Do We Divide An IRA?

IRAs can typically be divided using a process known as a “transfer incident to divorce.” Also called an IRA “rollover,” this process does not require a separate court order and can be accomplished by the parties themselves without the need to hire a specialized lawyer. Like a QDRO, an IRA rollover transaction is not subject to taxes. Instead, each party is responsible for payment of taxes and any penalty on the distributions from the retirement account after the funds are divided between them. As with a 401(k), the account can be divided by percentage or amount.

How Do We Divide A Pension?

When you have a non-qualified pension or other deferred compensation that is not divisible by QDRO or rollover, you will need to be more creative in allocating the asset between the parties. Typically, this means negotiating a buy-out of one party’s equitable interest or a sharing of the distributions if, as, and when the employee spouse receives them.

The attorneys at Broder & Orland LLC are experienced with the intricacies of dividing all types of retirement accounts and can help you take the appropriate legal steps to protect your rights to retirement accounts in your divorce.

What Is An Emergency Ex Parte Application For Custody?

An Emergency ex parte application for custody means that it is filed “for one party.” An ex parte application is an exception to the general rule that both parties must be present at any argument before a judge. Instead, these applications are initially considered “on the papers” by a judge without argument. Ex parte applications seek immediate, temporary orders, pending a formal hearing with both parties present.

When Are Emergency Ex Parte Applications For Custody Filed?

Emergency ex parte applications for custody are filed in emergency situations where one party believes that these types of orders are in the best interests of the child(ren) because there is an immediate and present risk of physical danger or psychological harm to the child(ren).   Emergency ex parte applications for custody may be filed if one parent is under the influence of drugs or alcohol during his or her parenting time, if one parent is psychologically or physically abusing the child(ren), or if one parent absconds with the child(ren).

Do I Need To Give The Other Parent Notice That I Will Be Filing An Emergency Ex Parte Application For Custody?

Yes. Prior to filing an emergency ex parte application for custody, the applicant must give the other side reasonable notice pursuant to Practice Book Section 4-5. Typically, notice is given the same day as the filing of the application, which includes copies of the documents to be submitted to the court. The notice requirement gives the other side reasonable notice to prepare and file an objection.

What Documents Need To Be Submitted With An Emergency Ex Parte Application For Custody?

When filing an emergency ex parte application for custody, certain documents must be filed: an application, a supporting affidavit, which must be signed by the applicant under oath, and an affidavit concerning children, which also must be signed by the applicant under oath. In the application, the applicant will delineate the relief sought. In the supporting affidavit, the applicable will explain the circumstances and explain why the relief sought is appropriate. The affidavit must include a statement that there is an immediate and present risk of physical danger or psychological harm to the child(ren).

What relief may be sought in an Emergency Ex Parte Application for Custody?

An applicant may seek temporary legal and physical custody with a specific parenting schedule under certain conditions or no parenting time at all. Certain conditions may include drug or alcohol testing or supervised parenting time. An applicant may also seek orders that the other parent may not remove the child(ren) from the State of Connecticut, may not interfere with the applicant’s custody of the child(ren), or may not interfere with the educational program of the child(ren).

When Will A Judge Rule On An Emergency Ex Parte Application For Custody?

Typically, judges rule on an emergency ex parte application for custody on the same day that it is filed. Written orders will be issued, which must be served on the other side within a proscribed period of time.

Will There Eventually Be A Hearing On An Emergency Ex Parte Application For Custody?

Yes. Absent an agreement, a hearing will occur within fourteen days.

Can I File An Emergency Ex Parte Application For Custody During The COVID-19 Pandemic?

Yes. despite the court’s being generally closed, due to the emergency nature of these applications, the court is currently accepting and ruling upon these Applications.

Are Emergency Ex Parte Applications Of Custody E-Filed With The Court?

No. These applications may not be e-filed and must be hand-delivered to the clerk’s office.

If you believe that an emergency exists which presents an immediate and present risk of physical danger or psychological harm to your child(ren), you should immediately contact an attorney to explore filing an emergency ex parte application for custody. The attorneys at Broder & Orland LLC are experienced in both filing and defending against these applications.

Payment Of Expenses For “Adult” Children After Divorce – PART II

In a Connecticut divorce, are you legally obligated to provide financial support to adult children? In Part I, we discussed that if you have an adult child living with you, or you are providing financial assistance to your adult child and your monthly living expenses are increased as a result, those increased expenses are not automatically covered by an award of alimony. We also discussed how the payment of health insurance for children over the age of eighteen is typically handled.

In Part II, we will address the limited areas where the Court can order you to provide support for an adult child.

Can Child Support Extend Beyond The Age Of Eighteen?

In Connecticut, child support is paid until the child turns eighteen or nineteen if still in high school. However, there is an exception to this rule. If your child is mentally, physically, or intellectually disabled, and lives with you and is primarily dependent on you, child support can extend until age twenty-one.

If you have a child with special needs, it is important to discuss your child’s specific circumstances with your divorce counsel so that we can appropriately address the possibility of extended child support.

Do I Have An Obligation To Pay For College and Graduate School For My Children When Divorcing In Connecticut?

In Connecticut, the Court can enter orders requiring you and/or your spouse to provide support to your child to attend college (or similar vocational school) for a total of four full academic years, until your child turns twenty-three. Any order for your contribution to higher education is capped at the cost of in-state tuition at the University of Connecticut, and it may include any necessary expenses such as tuition, room, board, dues, fees, and registration and application costs.

If orders for educational support are requested prior to your child attaining the age of twenty-three, the Court will have jurisdiction to makes orders regarding the payment of undergraduate expenses based on the financial circumstances of you and your spouse. However, your child must also meet certain qualifications to continue to be eligible for the payments under an educational support order. For example, your child must be enrolled at an accredited institution and maintain good academic standing in accordance with the school rules.

In Connecticut, there is no legal obligation for you or your spouse to contribute to the cost of graduate school for your child. Even if your child is under the age of twenty-three, your obligation is limited to undergraduate education only.

If you and your spouse agree that you would like to contribute in excess of the University of Connecticut cap on undergraduate tuition, or you agree to pay for graduate school, that can be included in your Separation Agreement. This is often the case if parents have already saved for college or graduate school and have accounts specifically designated for those expenses. If so, it is important to address the accounts and your intentions for them in your divorce agreement, so that you can enforce your agreement if necessary at a later date.

The attorneys at Broder & Orland LLC, with offices in Westport and Greenwich, Connecticut, we understand the unique challenges that families face after divorce. We use our vast experience to assist our clients in the negotiation and drafting of agreements to preemptively address many of those challenges.

man thinking about how to handle parents divorce

Payment Of Expenses For “Adult” Children After Divorce – PART I

It is common for divorcing parents to have children who over the age of eighteen and considered to be adults by the State of Connecticut, however, they are not yet self-supporting. These adult children are in an in-between stage, perhaps looking for a job or even have a job but are still receiving financial assistance from mom and dad. Sometimes divorcing parents are in agreement about providing some level of financial support to adult children. In a contentious divorce, they may not agree. In that case, how are the expenses shared for adult children who are still reliant on divorcing parents for some level of support?

Generally, divorcing parents are not legally obligated to provide financial support to adult children.

If our adult child is living with me—does it factor into my expenses for alimony?

There are several factors that are considered in determining the appropriate alimony to be paid from one spouse to the other, and one factor is the needs of the alimony payee. If you have an adult child living with you, or you are providing financial assistance to your adult child and your monthly living expenses are increased as a result, those increased expenses are not automatically covered by an award of alimony.

This may seem unfair, particularly if you have a child who recently graduated from college and is trying to find a job while living at home. It is important to have an experienced attorney who can help you negotiate a settlement that may include some of these expenses.

Who Will Pay For Health Insurance For Our “Adult” Children After Divorce?

In Connecticut, divorcing parents are only required to maintain health insurance coverage for minor children until the later of the child reaching the age of 18 or graduating high school (but no later than the age of 19). While there is no legal obligation to do so, it is typical for a Separation Agreement to provide for continued health insurance coverage for children beyond age eighteen. Most Agreements contain a provision that the coverage in effect at the time of divorce will continue for so long as it remains available through an employer at a reasonable cost. Many divorcing parents, agree for health insurance to extend to age 26, the maximum allowable age limit in Connecticut, or until the child is able to secure health insurance through his/her own employer, spouse, or domestic partner. If this language is included in your Separation Agreement, you and/or your spouse have a legal obligation to continue to provide coverage for your adult children.

The attorneys at Broder & Orland LLC, with offices in Westport and Greenwich, Connecticut, we understand the unique challenges that families face after divorce. We use our vast experience to assist our clients in the negotiation and drafting of agreements to preemptively address many of those challenges.

Do you really want to act like Kellyanne and George?

Whatever the real deal is behind Kellyanne and George Conway’s marriage, one thing is for sure: publicly slinging arrows back and forth between them and with Donald Trump, is not in the best interests of their four children. It is remarkable how seemingly otherwise educated and high achieving people, have failed to recognize the damage they are doing to their family, or worse, do not care. 

Their 15-year old daughter, Claudia, is seeking to be emancipated. Whether that will happen or not, will be up to a judge but the fact that she is basically looking to free herself from the reins of her celebrity parents and doing so in a public forum is most concerning. We may never know the basis for Claudia pursuing emancipation, and it is none of our business, but it would not be hard to imagine what her claims may be. 

So Kellyanne is retreating to home to be “Mama” (after she speaks at the RNC much to the consternation of Claudia) and George is suspending his activities with The Lincoln Project although he has made it clear that he is PASSIONATE. ABOUT. IT. 

Because of the high profile of the parents, this situation is now getting a lot of press. But unfortunately, Kellyanne and George are not the only parents who carry out a public war to the detriment of their children. It happens on a regular basis, particularly between divorcing couples or those who have been divorced. The venom and animosity between the parents often blind them as to the damage they are doing to their children, damage that can last a lifetime and spill over into succeeding generations. 

It is understandable that certain parents, whether still in an “intact” family, or in the throes of divorce, or post-divorce, will have ill feelings toward each other. Each of them, however, would probably say they want their kids to be as unaffected as possible. Recognizing that it takes significant willpower and fortitude to refrain from bad behavior when one feels wronged, betrayed, hurt, and worse, it is critical that any negative interactions between parents occur privately and not in front of the kids. 

In Connecticut, everyone who has filed for divorce and who has minor children, are required to take a parent education course. Most of our clients have remarked that it has been very helpful. Sometimes its just not enough though. The situation requires more time or greater expertise. And of course, non- divorcing parents don’t have this course available to them, so they are on their own to find help. Co- parenting therapy is one vehicle that can be employed by parents in any relationship who cannot restrain themselves on their own. 

So, ask yourself, do you really want to act like Kellyanne and George? Do you really want your child to seek emancipation, like Claudia? Or can you get a handle on your behavior with your spouse or ex- spouse for the benefit of your children? Kellyanne and George have the luxury of leaving their jobs and returning home to their family. Most people are not in that position, but they do not need to be if they are continually sensitive to their children, despite their feelings about each other. Think about it. Your children deserve better. 

AT Broder & Orland LLC, a matrimonial and divorce practice in Westport and Greenwich, Connecticut. we regularly counsel our clients about behaviors that impact their family. When appropriate, we consult with our client’s existing therapist, or refer our client to a therapist or other provider who can assist with ensuring that the children’s well-being is paramount.

Carole Topol Orland, Esq. 

Broder & Orland LLC 

8/24/20

Do I Have To Pay Alimony If My Ex-Spouse Is Cohabiting During COVID-19 Quarantine?

Regulations and orders from federal, state, and local governments are impacting the way we live during the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout Connecticut, significant others, relatives, or even friends have temporarily moved in to together during the coronavirus stay-at-home orders. What, if anything, can be done regarding your alimony obligation if your ex-spouse is living together with someone during quarantine?

 

Can Connecticut Alimony Obligations Be Modified Based On Cohabitation?

In some situations, alimony can be modified based on your ex-spouse’s cohabitation. Connecticut General Statutes §46b-86b provides that alimony orders can be modified in order to suspend, reduce or terminate the payment of alimony if the court determines that the party receiving alimony is living with another person “under circumstances which the court finds should result in the modification, suspension, reduction or termination of alimony.” The court must make a finding that the living arrangements change the financial needs of the alimony payee.

 

Can I Just Stop Paying Alimony If I Think My Spouse Is Cohabiting?

Most of the time you should continue to pay your court-ordered alimony obligation until the Judge has made a finding of cohabitation and modified your alimony order. Otherwise, you run the risk of being held in contempt of your alimony obligation. The courts in Connecticut generally do not approve of self-help.

If you have already discussed the situation with your ex-spouse and agreed to a temporary or permanent modification, this may be different. However, it is always best to have an experienced family law attorney to review your specific obligations and advise you on the best course of action for your case.

What If My Ex-Spouse’s Cohabitation Is Temporary (such as during COVID-19)– Can I Still Modify My Alimony Obligation?

A termination, suspension, or reduction of alimony can occur due to cohabitation that transpires during a brief time period of time or over several years, depending on the circumstances. In Connecticut, there is no specific length of time required to prove cohabitation. Rather, the court has the discretion to determine whether (regardless of the timeframe) your spouse is living with someone in a manner that impacts his or her financial needs.

If at all possible, prior to filing a motion for modification based on cohabitation, it is helpful to first determine whether and how the third party is contributing to your ex-spouse’s living expenses. For example—are they contributing to rent or mortgage? Are they paying for groceries or utilities?

 

What If My Ex-Spouse Has A Non-Romantic Relationship With The Third Party He Or She Is Living With?

In Connecticut, a finding of cohabitation is not dependent upon a romantic relationship. Your ex-spouse could be living with a romantic partner, a roommate, or a family member in circumstances that result in an alteration of his or her financial needs and a subsequent modification of alimony.

Modification of alimony based on cohabitation is highly fact-specific. Whether a person is an alimony recipient or an alimony payor, consultation with an attorney is helpful in determining how the law applies to the facts of the case. At Broder & Orland, LLC, we are adept at setting and litigating cases involving modification of alimony based on cohabitation.

Love In The Time Of Corona: Extended Engagements Give Couples The Time To Consider Prenuptial Agreements

By now, everyone knows someone who has had to cancel a major event due to the coronavirus (COVID-19). Unfortunately, this is the case for many weddings that were planned months and years in advance, and will now have to be rescheduled due to travel bans and restrictions on groups. Engagements are now prolonged, perhaps indefinitely, due to this global pandemic.

The silver lining, if there is one, might be that these couples now have the time to focus on a prenuptial agreement.

What Is A Prenuptial Agreement?

A prenuptial agreement (also referred to as a “prenup” or a “premarital agreement”) is a legal contract that is signed prior to getting married, which sets forth what will happen to the couples’ finances in the event of a divorce. A prenuptial agreement may include provisions regarding the division of assets, payment of expenses and liabilities, the calculation (or exclusion) of alimony, responsibility for attorney’s fees, and provisions in the event of a spouse’s death.

Who Should Have A Prenuptial Agreement?

While anyone who is getting married can have a prenuptial agreement, it is most commonly used when one or both parties have assets or income that they would like to protect. In Connecticut, all assets, regardless of how they were obtained or titled, are considered a “marital asset” and subject to equitable division in the event of a divorce. In other words, all assets part of the marital pot, unless they are specifically excluded or addressed in a prenuptial (or post-nuptial) agreement. Accordingly, many couples who may have already been married, have accumulated wealth, and/or would like to pass assets on to their children, utilize prenuptial agreements.

Prenuptial agreements can also protect assets that haven’t been received yet. If you are engaged, and you are the beneficiary of a trust, own a piece of a family business, or expect an inheritance, a prenup can assist you in determining what happens to these future assets in the event of a divorce.

How Do I Discuss The Idea Of A Prenuptial Agreement With my Fiancé?

Every relationship has a different dynamic. Sometimes couples arrive at our office having already negotiated terms of an agreement between themselves. Other times, we receive calls from a worried fiancé, asking how to best approach a future spouse with the concept of a prenuptial agreement. We are even approached by well-meaning parents of the bride or groom, who have a direct interest in keeping their child’s future assets protected! It is not uncommon for grown children to be in the dark regarding the estate plans of his or her parents.

Whether you are engaged and want to discuss the idea of a prenuptial agreement with your fiancé, or you are a parent who wants to encourage your child to sign into a prenup prior to marriage, the best policy is honesty. Now is the time to have an open and honest discussion about what the potential concerns are, what the assets (or debt!) consist of, and what you hope to accomplish by agreeing to settlement terms now. In Connecticut, in order for a prenuptial agreement to be enforced, there is a requirement for full and fair disclosure—meaning, each spouse must fully disclose any and all assets, holdings, liabilities, and income at the time of signing. It is not a good idea to wait until the last minute before the wedding to approach these issues. Now is the time to put it all out on the table and to have a frank and level-headed discussion.

At Broder & Orland LLC, we frequently consult with clients who have questions about whether a prenuptial agreement would be right for them and we have significant experience representing clients who want to best protect themselves in the drafting and negotiation of a prenuptial agreement.

CONNECTICUT FAMILY COURTS ARE NOW OPEN FOR ALL DIVORCE, CUSTODY AND POST-DIVORCE MATTERS, VIRTUALLY

As of July 6, 2020, all courthouses in Connecticut resumed operations on a full-time basis, with doors open to the public Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm, including the Stamford, Milford and Danbury courthouses which had been temporarily closed due to employee(s) testing positive with COVID-19.  The clerks’ offices are open to the public for regular business with mandatory safeguards in place.

ARE IN-PERSON HEARINGS BEING HELD IN CONNECTICUT FAMILY COURT?

Yes, for emergency child custody, domestic violence cases, restraining orders, and other emergency family issues.  Anyone physically entering a courthouse must wear a face mask covering the nose and mouth, and all must practice social distancing which may require waiting outside the courthouse until called inside the building to limit the number people in the lobbies, hallways and courtrooms.

ARE VIRTUAL FAMILY COURT HEARINGS BEING HELD?

Yes, limited hearings as well as other Family Law proceedings are being held.  The use of video has allowed the courts to continue expanding the types of cases to be heard.  As of June 24, 2020, the courts began scheduling argument on matters that would ordinarily require physical presence in court.  Final agreements on post-divorce matters and uncontested divorces may be approved without in-person hearing and the courts will also begin scheduling pretrials and evidentiary hearings that were scheduled to take place July 1, 2020 and later.

HOW ARE EXISTING DIVORCE AND CUSTODY CASES MOVING FORWARD IN CONNECTICUT FAMILY COURT?

The Family Courts have held remote Status Conferences for all pending divorce and custody matters to determine whether scheduling orders are necessary to ensure cases are moving forward.  Pendente lite (temporary) agreements continue to be approved on the papers with e-filing, which include appointments of guardians ad litem, temporary parenting plans, temporary alimony and child support payment orders, conditions of alcohol testing, discovery deadlines, and any other type of disputed issue that arises prior to final divorce.    

WHAT OTHER FAMILY LAW SERVICES ARE AVAILABLE BY REMOTE MEANS?

Professional Family Law mediators and arbitrators remain available both in-person and by remote means to resolve child custody and financial disputes.  Co-parenting coordinators and therapists are holding sessions using video, and the Parenting Education course is now offered remotely.  Family Relations counselors are available by telephone and it is anticipated that they will also be offering services using video in the near future. 

IS IT BETTER TO DELAY THE START OF MY DIVORCE OR POST-DIVORCE CASE UNTIL COURTS RESTORE/REQUIRE IN-PERSON APPEARANCES?

Filing sooner rather than later preserves several important rights.  In divorce cases for example, there are injunctive orders that automatically go into effect upon the initiation of a case that prohibit moving or concealing assets, altering insurance coverage and other financial protections.  In post-divorce matters, an earlier date of service will preserve retroactivity claims for altered alimony or child support payments.

Broder & Orland LLC, is a Westport and Greenwich divorce law firm.  We are currently conducting consultations via video conference and in-person with a face mask at an appropriate distance outdoors if that is preferred.  The Connecticut Judicial Branch is working to constantly expand its courtroom “Remote Justice” functions and we continue to adjust our own practices to continue serving our clients with health and safety as our first priority.