Month: August 2020

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.