Month: February 2020

What Should I Expect at Trial?

This Week’s Blog by Nicole M. DiGiose., a Westport and Greenwich lawyer at Broder Orland Murray & DeMattie LLC.

Will my Case go to Trial?

Divorce trials are rare in Connecticut. However, in the event the parties are unable to reach a settlement as to either or both parenting and financial issues, the disputed issues will be submitted to the Court for determination after a trial.

When will my Case be Ready for Trial?

Typically, a case will be ready for trial after all discovery has been exchanged and reviewed, depositions have been completed, and, if applicable, any and all experts have completed their evaluations and reports.

How do I Prepare for Trial?

Prior to trial, you will meet with your attorney to go over your testimony and how to testify. It is important that you provide a marital history in advance of trial so that your attorney has all of the relevant factual information involving your marriage and can prepare an outline of important topics to be covered. Although your attorney will have reviewed all discovery and depositions in advance, it is important for you to review those documents as well.

How Do I Testify?

When you are called as a witness, you will take the witness stand and be sworn in by the Clerk. This involves an affirmative response that you will tell the truth while testifying. You will then be asked questions by both attorneys. It is imperative that you listen to the question being asked of you and that you answer only that question. Unresponsive answers may be stricken from the record. It is also important that you wait until the question is completed. The Court Monitor takes down everything that is said during a trial, so no one should talk over another person. If you hear the word “objection,” you should wait to answer until the Judge has made his or her ruling on the objection.

 Do any Documents need to be Submitted Prior to Trial?

Yes. Ten days before a trial, the following documents must be submitted to the Court: Proposed Orders, which may include a Proposed Parenting Plan if custody and parenting issues have not been resolved, a Financial Affidavit, a list of any outstanding Motions to be heard, as well as a list of potential exhibits and witnesses. If child support is at issue, a Child Support Guidelines Worksheet must also be submitted.

Who Will Testify at Trial?

 Both parties will testify. If there are outstanding parenting issues and a Guardian Ad Litem has been appointed, he or she will testify as to his or her recommendation and the basis thereof. In some cases, there may be additional third-party witnesses, such as expert witnesses or fact witnesses. Common examples of expert witnesses include business evaluators, custody evaluators, and real estate appraisers.

What Actually Happens at Trial?

 The Plaintiff will go first. He or she will call witnesses to testify and introduce relevant exhibits during the examination of each witness. The Defendant will have the opportunity to cross-examine the Plaintiff’s witnesses. Once the Plaintiff has completed its case-in-chief, the Defendant will present its case by following the same process as the Plaintiff. The Guardian Ad Litem, if applicable, typically testify after both sides have completed their cases-in-chief.

When Will I Receive a Decision?

Judges in Connecticut have 120 days to render their decision. The Judge may issue his or her decision before the expiration of the 120-day timeframe, or may ask for an extension, if necessary.

Is my Trial Public?

Generally, yes. Any member of the public may sit in the gallery during a trial. On rare occasions, the Courtroom may be closed.

Can I Order a Transcript of My Divorce Proceedings?

Yes. The Court Monitor takes down everything that is said during a trial.

In the event your case goes to trial, the attorneys at Broder Orland Murray & DeMattie LLC will ensure that your case is ready and that you are absolutely prepared. While testifying can be stressful, we make sure you are as comfortable as possible during your trial.

WHAT DOES DISSIPATION OF MARITAL ASSETS MEAN IN A CONNECTICUT DIVORCE?

This Week’s Blog by Jaime S. Dursht., a Westport and Greenwich lawyer at Broder Orland Murray & DeMattie LLC.

 

One spouse’s reckless, out-of-control and wasteful spending may be a dissipation of assets resulting in the other spouse receiving a credit in the final allocation of the marital estate. Connecticut courts have the statutory authority under Connecticut General Statutes § 46b-81 to consider a spouse’s dissipation of marital assets when determining the nature and value of property to be assigned to each spouse. Finan v. Finan, 949 A.2d 468 (2008). Not all types of spending qualify as a dissipation of marital assets. For example, the sudden repayment of a large loan to parents without the knowledge of the other spouse may or may not be a dissipation of marital assets, depending on the circumstances.

WHAT ARE EXAMPLES OF A DISSIPATION OF ASSETS IN A CONNECTICUT DIVORCE?

Not all forms of excessive spending are a dissipation of marital assets. “[A]t a minimum, dissipation in the marital dissolution context requires financial misconduct involving marital assets, such as intentional waste or a selfish financial impropriety, coupled with a purpose unrelated to the marriage.” Gersham v. Gersham, 286 Conn. 341, 346 (2008). Gambling, spending on a paramour, concealment or transfer of an asset to another for little or no consideration are traditional examples of the type of financial misconduct required to obtain a credit. “Even a sharp disagreement between spouses over the wisdom of an expenditure, without more, does not render that expenditure a dissipation of marital assets. … The test is whether the asset was actually wasted or misused.” Id.

DOES THE MISCONDUCT HAVE TO OCCUR DURING THE PENDENCY OF A CONNECTICUT DIVORCE?

There is a timing requirement for the spending to have occurred, although not limited to the pendency of the divorce case. Just because the expenditures occurred prior to filing the action does not take it out of consideration. “[I]n order for a transaction to constitute dissipation of marital assets for the purposes of equitable distribution … it must occur either (1) in contemplation of divorce or separation; or (2) while the marriage is in serious jeopardy or is undergoing an irretrievable breakdown.” Finan v. Finan, 949 A.2d 468 (2008). Thus, financial misconduct that occurred pre-separation may properly be considered as long as the marriage was undergoing irretrievable breakdown.

HOW DOES A PARTY ASSERT A CLAIM OF DISSIPATION OF ASSETS IN A CONNECTICUT DIVORCE?

In addition to claiming a credit for the dissipation of assets in the final allocation of the marital estate pursuant to C.G.S. 46b-81, a party may also assert a claim of dissipation during the pendency of the action as a violation of Automatic Orders pursuant to Connecticut Practice Book Sec. 25-5. Although the particular misconduct may not be financially remedied with a credit until the end of the divorce action, filing a motion for contempt during the action may serve to preserve the claim and effectively enjoin the conduct.   See, for example, Greenan v. Greenan where a spouse violated automatic orders when he “mortgaged assets, took out loans and converted assets, all the while exercising little restraint over his spending and acting with a sense of entitlement.” Greenan v. Greenan, Superior Court, judicial district of Stamford/Norwalk, Docket No. FST FA-09-4015784-S (August 30, 2012, Calmar, J.) Similarly, see the Court’s orders in Barr v. Barr: “In view of the defendant’s dissipation of more than $109,000 in marital assets in violation of the automatic orders, the court finds that such a remedial punishment is appropriate. Accordingly, the defendant shall pay $50,200 (representing 50 percent of $109,000 …) to the plaintiff from his equitable distribution share of the marital assets upon entry of the dissolution decree.” Barr v. Barr, Superior Court, judicial district of Stamford/Norwalk, Docket No. FST FA13-4025428-S (May 28, 2015, Heller, J.).

Broder Orland Murray & DeMattie LLC, with offices in Westport and Greenwich, concentrates in divorce and family law. Our attorneys are extremely knowledgeable about financial issues faced by individuals in a divorce and are very experienced with seeking the appropriate relief for, as well as defending a claim of, a dissipation of marital assets.

Connecticut Divorce Location

This Week’s Blog by Christopher J. DeMattie.

Where can I file my Connecticut Divorce?

Generally, the town where you reside in Connecticut will dictate in which Judicial District you will file your divorce case. Pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes § 51-345, if either you or your spouse are residents of Connecticut, you must file the case in the Judicial District where either you or your spouse resides, except, if your or your spouse resides in the town of:

  1. Manchester, East Windsor, South Windsor or Enfield, you have the option to file the case in either the judicial district of Hartford or the judicial district of Tolland.
  2. Plymouth, you have the option to file the case in either the judicial district of New Britain or the judicial district of Waterbury.
  3. Bethany, Milford, West Haven or Woodbridge, you have the option to file the case in either the judicial district of New Haven or the judicial district of Ansonia-Milford at Milford.
  4. Southbury, you have the option to file the case in either the judicial district of Ansonia-Milford at Milford or the judicial district of Waterbury.
  5. Darien, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford, Weston, Westport or Wilton, you have the option to file the case in either the judicial district of Stamford-Norwalk or the judicial district of Fairfield at Bridgeport.
  6. Watertown or Woodbury, you have the option to file the case in either the judicial district of Waterbury or the judicial district of Litchfield at Torrington.
  7. Avon, Canton, Farmington or Simsbury, you have the option to file the case in either the judicial district of Hartford or the judicial district of New Britain.
  8. Newington, Rocky Hill or Wethersfield, you have the option to file the case in either the judicial district of Hartford or the judicial district of New Britain.
  9. Cromwell, you have the option to file the case in either the judicial district of Hartford or the judicial district of Middlesex at Middletown.
  10. New Milford you have the option to file the case in either the judicial district of Danbury or the judicial district of Litchfield at Torrington.
  11. Windham or Ashford, you have the option to file the case in either the judicial district of Windham or the judicial district of Tolland.

If you reside in a town where you are eligible to file your divorce case in more than one Judicial District, there may be a benefit to you to file in one Judicial District versus the other depending on the specific circumstances of your case. Prior to filing your divorce action, you should always discuss your filing options with your attorney.

Can you file for divorce online in Connecticut?

The short answer is yes. In 2015 Connecticut transitioned from paper files to electronic files for divorce cases filed after October 15, 2015. Thus, if you or your attorney is registered for E-services on the Connecticut Judicial Website, you can file your divorce action online, after your spouse is served by a Marshal, without appearing at the Courthouse to file your case.

At Broder Orland Murray & DeMattie LLC, the largest matrimonial and family law firm in Connecticut with offices in Westport and Greenwich, we carefully consider with our clients the most advantageous place to file their divorce when there is an option under the statute