Year: 2018

Can I Get Exclusive Use of the Marital Residence During My Connecticut Divorce?

This Week’s Blog by Jaime S. Dursht

Yes.  Connecticut courts have the authority to award exclusive use and occupancy of the home  to either spouse while a divorce is pending, which means that one spouse can be ordered to vacate the home until further court order.  Connecticut General Statutes 46b-83(a) provides, “At any time after the return day of a complaint … [t]he court may also award exclusive use of the family home or any other dwelling unit which is available for use as a residence pendent lite to either of the parties as is just and equitable without regard to the respective interests of the parties in the property.”

What is the Procedure in Connecticut?

A motion is filed with the court which will be scheduled for hearing before a judge within a few weeks of filing. “Each motion for exclusive possession shall state the nature of the property, whether it is rental property or owned by the parties or one of them, the length of tenancy or ownership of each party, the current family members residing therein and the grounds upon which the moving party seeks exclusive possession.”  Connecticut  Practice Book § 25-25.

Does it Matter Which Party Has Title to the House?

No.  A court may award exclusive occupancy regardless of whose name the home is titled in.  In fact, ownership of a home is not necessary, and a court may order exclusive use of rental properties as well.

Are Specific Grounds Required?

There are no specific statutory grounds, however, the Practice Book requires the motion to state “the grounds upon which the moving party seeks exclusive possession.”  While a court will consider factors such as the nature of the relationship between the parties, the grounds must be more compelling than that of spouses not getting along.  The existence of physical and/or substance abuse for example, will be considered significant, especially if these conditions are taking place in the presence of minor children.

Does It Affect Who Has to Pay the Expenses While the Divorce is Pending?

Courts are reluctant to order the parties to pay for two residences if it is evident they cannot afford it, however, if the circumstances justify it, a court will grant the motion regardless of the financial situation.  While a Connecticut divorce is pending, there are Automatic Orders in effect which are intended to preserve the status quo as to the payment of household expenses, and courts may order the payment of ordinary household expenses from assets if necessary.

What Happens if There are Minor Children Involved?

A court may base its orders on what is in the best interests of the minor children, which often means that the children will stay in the marital home with the primary caregiver.  Depending on the circumstances, the court will also require the parties to work out a temporary schedule of appropriate parenting access.  Sometimes that may involve a schedule of “bird nesting” to keep the children in the marital home while the parents rotate occupancy of the home or part of the home.

The attorneys at Broder & Orland LLC, with offices in Westport and Greenwich, are very experienced with the issue of exclusive use and occupancy of the marital residence during a Connecticut divorce and with assisting clients in developing an appropriate plan to meet individual and family needs.

Depositions in a Connecticut Divorce Case

This Week’s Blog by Christopher J. DeMattie

What is a Deposition? 

A Deposition is when you, your spouse, or a third party is placed under oath and asked various questions by an attorney related to your divorce action.  The questions and answers are recorded word for word by a stenographer. A transcript of the proceedings is later created.  On occasion, a Deposition may also be video recorded if advance notice is provided.  Typically, Depositions do not occur at the courthouse, rather they take place at an attorney’s office.  All parties and their attorneys are permitted to attend the Deposition, unless there is an order of protection in place.  

What is the Purpose of a Deposition? 

There are three main reasons to take a Deposition in a divorce case.

First, is to determine facts and to limit surprises at trial.  An attorney may have questions about facts in dispute, want to learn the nuances of your spouse’s compensation, or find out if your spouse was having an affair.  The last thing you want to happen at trial is to find out a brand new material fact.

Second, is to have a record created under oath that can be used at trial.  During a trial, one of the most important issues is a witness’ credibility.  By having sworn prior testimony given under oath, an attorney is able to use a Deposition transcript to attack the credibility of a witness by citing to lies, omissions, or material changes in testimony.

Third, is to preserve the testimony of a witness if he or she is unavailable at the time of trial.  For example, a witness may live out of state and not be subjected to a trial subpoena, so you have to take the witness’ Deposition out of state in order to use the testimony at trial.

Is a Deposition Required for Divorce?

A Deposition is not a requirement for a divorce in Connecticut.  In fact, many cases are resolved without a Deposition being taken.  Depositions usually occur if a case is going to trial, however, and might be strategically taken in the beginning of a case to narrow down the issues to help facilitate a settlement.

What Happens During a Deposition?

The first thing that generally happens at a Deposition is everyone is told where to sit.  The stenographer will sit at the head of the table and the opposing attorney will sit on one side, the witness will sit directly across from the opposing attorney, and your attorney will be sit next to you on the opposite side of the stenographer.  The witness is then given an oath by the stenographer to tell the truth.  Once the witness is “sworn in” the opposing attorney will usually go through the ground rules of a Deposition, often in question and answer form to familiarize the witness with the process.  The opposing attorney will then question the witness about documents and issues related to the case.  A Deposition could take a few minutes or could proceed over the course of multiple days depending on the issues.  Once the opposing attorney finishes his or her questions, your attorney will have the opportunity to ask follow up questions, but it is rare to do so because your attorney’s questions may only serve to educate the opposing side about your testimony and extend the Deposition by giving opposing counsel an opportunity for additional follow-up questions.  A witness is entitled to take breaks during a Deposition and consult with his or her attorney as long as a question is not pending.  In other words, a witness cannot consult with his or her attorney in the middle of a question.

Our lawyers at Broder & Orland LLC have vast experience with Depositions and can effectively help you weigh the options and guide you to the correct decision when it comes to deposing your spouse, as well as preparing our clients in advance of his or her deposition.

What is Legal Separation in Connecticut?

This Week’s blog by Lauren M. Healy

What is Legal Separation? 

Legal Separation is a lawsuit that is commenced by one spouse against the other, resulting in an enforceable court order that resolves issues such as custody, division of assets and liabilities and the payment of alimony and/or child support. Married couples who are separating and want to have a formal agreement on important issues have the option of filing for either Divorce or Legal Separation.

Is Legal Separation the same thing as Divorce?

No. Although Legal Separation and Divorce have many similarities, they are two different legal actions. The major difference between Divorce and Legal Separation is that when a Divorce is completed, the parties are free to remarry. When parties are legally separated, they are still legally married and unable to remarry.

Can you turn a Legal Separation into a Divorce? 

Yes. There are two ways to turn a Legal Separation into a Divorce. One option is to convert the action (from Legal Separation to Divorce) while the lawsuit is still pending. This requires filing a simple Motion with the Court, requesting that the action be converted before any orders are final.

It is also possible to wait until after the Legal Separation is finalized to convert the Legal Separation into a Divorce judgment. There is no time limit on requesting a divorce after Legal Separation. Sometimes parties live legally separated for years before getting divorced.

Why file for Legal Separation instead of Divorce?

The decision of whether to file for Legal Separation or Divorce is very personal. In some cases, for religious or other reasons, Divorce is not a suitable option. If a couple wants to live separate and apart physically or financially, without the finality of a Divorce, Legal Separation could be a better choice. Legal Separation can also be used as a stepping stone to Divorce. Since it is so easy to convert to a Divorce, sometimes the party commencing the action chooses to start with the softer concept of Legal Separation.

Also, a couple may choose to pursue Legal Separation if they prefer to be separated but can maintain or acquire benefits by remaining legally married, such as health insurance or social security benefits.

What are the Grounds for Legal Separation in Connecticut? 

In Connecticut, you need a reason, or grounds, to be legally separated. The grounds for Legal Separation are the same as for Divorce. Since Connecticut is a “no fault” state, it is not necessary for either party has to prove that the other caused the marriage to end. Instead, the parties can simply represent that the marriage has broken down irretrievably, with no hope of reconciliation.

Do I need a Lawyer for a Legal Separation?

Just as in a Divorce, parties are not required to have legal representation to obtain a Legal Separation. However, since major parenting and financial issues are negotiated and decided, including custody, assets, liabilities and support, it is advisable to obtain legal counsel in order to fully understand your rights and obligations pursuant to Connecticut law.

At Broder & Orland LLC we apply our experience and knowledge of the law to the specific circumstances of each case, in order to help our clients decide the best course of action when considering a Divorce or Legal Separation.

What Do I Need to Know about Connecticut Prenuptial Agreements?

This Week’s Blog by Sarah E. Murray

How Do I know if a Prenuptial Agreement is Right for Me?

In general terms, a Prenuptial Agreement is a contract that two people sign prior to getting married.  Prenuptial Agreements can be appropriate in a variety of situations, including second marriages, marriages in which one or both parties wants to protect his or her premarital assets, marriages in which a party has an interest (or will acquire an interest during the marriage) in a closely held business, including a family business, and marriages in which one or both parties anticipates receiving a substantial inheritance during the marriage.

What Topics Are Addressed in a Connecticut Prenuptial Agreement?

A Prenuptial Agreement can be used to address each party’s rights and obligations with respect to property held by the other, whether acquired before or during the marriage, and each party’s rights to buy, sell, transfer, mortgage, encumber, dispose of, or otherwise control and manage property during the marriage.  Prenuptial Agreements address the disposition of property upon separation, divorce, and/or death and can be used either to establish the terms for or to eliminate spousal support in the event of a divorce.

Are There Other Topics Included in Connecticut Prenuptial Agreements? 

Parties can use a Prenuptial Agreement to provide for the ownership of life insurance policies, how the proceeds from life insurance policies will be disposed of upon a party’s death, and the rights of each party to the other party’s retirement plan.  Prenuptial Agreements will also state what state law will apply in enforcing or interpreting the agreement.

Are There Topics that Cannot be Addressed in a Connecticut Prenuptial Agreement?

Under Connecticut law, the right of a child to support cannot be adversely affected by a Prenuptial Agreement.  Additionally, any custody or visitation arrangements contracted to in a Prenuptial Agreement are subject to review and change by a Court at the time of a divorce.  In other words, while a couple can set forth child support and child custody terms in a Prenuptial Agreement, there is no guarantee that those terms would be upheld by a Court in the event of a divorce.

When is a Connecticut Prenuptial Agreement Enforced?  

In some divorce cases, the parties agree at the time of the divorce to abide by the terms of the Prenuptial Agreement.  In those relatively simple cases, the divorce judgment will incorporate the provisions of the Prenuptial Agreement and the parties can agree upon or have the Court decide any issues not set forth in their Prenuptial Agreement.

If the parties are unable to agree as to whether the Prenuptial Agreement will govern the terms of their divorce, the question of whether a Prenuptial Agreement is enforceable is decided during the divorce case, either as a preliminary matter or at the end of the case.

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.

Common Questions about Alimony in Connecticut

This Week’s Blog by Eric J. Broder

Is Alimony Mandatory in Connecticut?

There is no requirement that alimony must be awarded in Connecticut divorce cases. In determining whether or not to award alimony, the court will look at a variety of factors, including, but not limited to, the parties’ ages, income, earning capacities, station in life, the length of the marriage, estate, and individual needs. The court does not need to weigh each of these factors equally.

How Long Will a Spouse Have to Pay Alimony?

In Connecticut, there is no “formula” for determining the length of alimony in a divorce case. The court will consider some of the factors enumerated above with, in my opinion, a focus on the length of the marriage, the ages of the parties, and their incomes and/or earning capacities. Generally speaking, the longer the marriage is, the longer the term of alimony will be.

Is Alimony Calculated From Gross Income?

Prior to January 1, 2019, divorce judges considered the parties’ gross incomes to determine the appropriate amount of alimony. Effective January 1, 2019, under the new tax laws, the court will now look at the parties’ net after tax incomes to determine the appropriate amount of alimony.

Is an Alimony Order Modifiable?

After a divorce, alimony in Connecticut is modifiable upon the showing of a substantial change in circumstances. For example, if one party’s income has decreased dramatically, he or she can seek to reduce their alimony obligation. There are a number of other circumstances which may warrant a modification as well.

Does Alimony End on Cohabitation in Connecticut?

Alimony does not automatically terminate when the receiving spouse cohabitates with someone. A number of factors will be considered to determine if the alimony should be terminated or possibly reduced. These factors include, but are not limited to, the type of relationship and the financial assistance the ex-spouse is receiving from the person they are living with.

At Broder & Orland LLC, we concentrate our practice exclusively on family law. In doing so, we understand the financial constraints that a pending divorce can pose on both parties, and the importance of establishing both an equitable amount and duration of alimony. We are adept at advising our clients on the strategies and the multitude of factors considered by a Court in establishing an alimony award.

Children and Custody Disputes: Do My Child’s Wishes Matter?

This Week’s Blog by Andrew M. Eliot

Must a Judge Consider My Child’s Wishes in a Custody Dispute?

No.  It is a common misconception that Judges must consider a child’s preferences in making determinations regarding a child’s custodial arrangement.

In fact, the only factor that a Judge must consider in rendering a custody determination is the “best interests” of a child.

Will a Judge Consider My Child’s Wishes in a Custody Dispute?

The short answer is — it depends.  Under the applicable Connecticut statute pertaining to custody determinations (C.G.S. §46b-56(c), Judges may — but are not required — to consider the “informed preferences of a child,” in determining what custodial arrangement is in a child’s best interest.  In practice, and through relevant judicial decisions, Courts have interpreted this to mean that a child’s preferences shall only be considered if a child is of sufficient age and is capable of forming an intelligent preference.

How Will a Judge Determine if my Child is of Sufficient Age and Capable of Forming an Intelligent Preference?

There is no precise answer to this question and no fixed age at which a child will be deemed to automatically meet this threshold.  Rather, whether a particular child meets this initial threshold is a determination that falls within the discretion of the Judge.

However, in considering whether a child is of sufficient age and is capable of forming an intelligent preference, such that his or her custodial preferences may be considered by the Court, a Judge is likely to consider not only a child’s chronological age (though this will certainly be a factor), but also the child’s maturity level and intellectual capacity.  A Judge is likely to make such assessments by hearing witness testimony from relevant individuals (such as a child’s parents, a Guardian Ad Litem, and/or any relevant mental health professionals) and potentially considering additional evidence such as documentation relating to a child’s academic performance at school.

If my Child is deemed of Sufficient Age and Capable of Forming an Intelligent Preference, will a Judge Honor His or Her Wishes?

Not necessarily.  Notably, even if a Judge determines that it is appropriate to consider a child’s custodial preferences, he or she still has the discretion to determine that the expressed preferences of the child are not in the child’s best interest, and render orders that are contrary to the child’s wishes.

Parents should also be aware that Judges are often inclined to view the expressed wishes of a child with skepticism or distrust, given that a child who is the subject of a custody dispute may have conflicting feelings about custodial arrangements, may feel pressure from one parent (or both) to express certain preferences, and may have preferences that are subject to change at any moment.

At Broder & Orland LLC, we have extensive experience handling complex and emotionally charged custody disputes throughout Fairfield County and Connecticut and can help clients properly assess whether and to what extent a child’s wishes might be considered by the Court.

What is a Discovery Special Master (DSM)?

This Week’s Blog by Carole T. Orland

  • The Court may appoint a DSM in your divorce case to resolve discovery disputes.
  • Discovery may include production of documents, written responses to questions, and/or Deposition testimony.
  • Utilizing a DSM often saves the parties time and money, as opposed to having the Court decide discovery disputes.
  • Typically the DSM is paid from marital funds during the divorce litigation.
  • The Court retains ultimate authority with regard to discovery disputes.

In certain cases where there are disputes involving discovery, the parties may agree or the Court may appoint a Discovery Special Master. Discovery in divorce cases typically includes the production of certain documents, responses to written questions and/or testimony at a Deposition. Discovery in Connecticut is very liberal. Essentially, if the information sought is “reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence,” it must be produced unless there is some prevailing privilege, such as that between attorney and client, to the contrary. Connecticut Practice Book Sec. 13-2. However, it is not uncommon in divorce cases to have a disagreement as to what must be produced. If the parties cannot agree they can bring the issue before the Court through Motion practice. The Court has the option of deciding the dispute or referring the matter to a DSM. With their busy dockets and frequent understaffing, Courts generally are not inclined to spend hours sorting out discovery disputes, some of which may be granular in nature. It is, therefore, more practical for the Court to assign the discovery issues to a DSM.

Who Serves as a DSM?

Any lawyer can serve as a DSM. The parties can agree on whom that person should be or in the absence of an agreement, the Court can choose the DSM.

What Protocol Does the DSM Use for Addressing Discovery Disputes?

The Court may establish a general protocol in its Order. Each DSM may handle a case differently, but generally the DSM will ask counsel to provide to him or her the discovery requests in issue along with a memorandum in support or opposition of production, along with certain documentation relevant to discovery. If there is an issue of law, the DSM may ask for legal support in the form of a memorandum or brief. Next, the DSM may either decide the dispute on the papers or confer telephonically or at an in-person conference with counsel and sometimes the parties.

Is the DSM’s Decision Binding?

The Court retains ultimate authority to determine discovery disputes.

Who Pays for the DSM?

The parties are responsible for paying the DSM. Typically, the DSM’s fees are paid out of martial funds during the litigation.

What is the Advantage of Having a DSM?

An experienced DSM can usually give more timely attention and move through the issues quicker than the Court can do, thereby saving the parties attorney’s fees and money in the long run, and preventing delays due to discovery disputes.

What Other Matters Might a DSM Address?

The DSM can address matters of Deposition scheduling for parties, witnesses and experts as well as substantive issues related to these Depositions.

At Broder & Orland LLC, with offices in Greenwich and Westport, we have significant experience working with Discovery Special Masters in our divorce cases throughout Connecticut. We are adept at streamlining the discovery process to the extent possible in order to get the information we need and in producing required information to your spouse, in a timely and cost effective manner.  We recognize that the DSM can be an excellent resource in that regard.

What is Arbitration and is it Right for Me?

This Week’s Blog by Nicole M. DiGiose

What is Arbitration?

Arbitration is an alternative means to resolve disputes out of court.  Unlike mediation, arbitration is binding upon the parties.

How Does a Case Get to Arbitration?

In order to arbitrate, the parties must agree to do so.  Pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes (C.G.S.) Section 52-408, the parties must memorialize their agreement to arbitrate in a written contract.  Once the parties have entered into an arbitration agreement, it must be approved by the Court before the arbitration proceedings commence.

Who will be the Arbitrator?

Usually, the parties will agree to an arbitrator and name him or her in their arbitration agreement.  In the event the parties are unable to agree on an arbitrator, the Court has the power to appoint one, as the case may require, pursuant to C.G.S. Section 52-411.  The arbitrator will typically be an attorney or retired judge.

Are There Any Issues that cannot be heard at Arbitration?

Yes.  Pursuant to C.G.S. Section 52-408, issues related to child support, visitation, and custody cannot be submitted to arbitration.  Therefore, arbitration may only be used for cases in which there are no child-related issues, or cases in which child-related issues have already been resolved.

What is the Difference between Arbitration and Trial?

Trials take place in a courtroom before a judge.  Arbitration, on the other hand, is more informal and takes place before an arbitrator, usually in a conference room.  However, there are some similarities.  For example, there will typically be a court reporter present at an arbitration, and the parties may agree that Connecticut Law and the Connecticut Rules of Evidence shall apply.  Procedurally, the parties may agree for counsel to make opening and closing statements, and examine witnesses, just as they would in a trial.

What Happens to my Court Case When We Submit to Arbitration?

Pursuant to C.G.S. Section 52-409, actions in Court may be stayed, meaning that they are essentially paused, until the arbitration has occurred.  In order to have the Court proceedings stayed, a party must make a request in the form of a motion.  Then, the Court must be satisfied that the issues to be referred to arbitration are permitted under law, and that the party making the request for the stay is ready and willing to proceed with the arbitration.

What if my Spouse Refuses to Participate in Arbitration After We Have Signed an Agreement?

Pursuant to C.G.S. Section 52-410, if one party neglects or refuses to participate in arbitration after submitting to a written arbitration agreement, the other party may make an application to the Court for an order directing the parties to proceed with arbitration in compliance with their agreement.

What Happens After Arbitration Has Concluded?

Usually, an arbitration agreement will state the deadline on which the arbitrator must render his or her decision.  If the agreement is silent as to a deadline, pursuant to C.G.S. Section 42-416, a decision must be rendered within thirty days from the date the arbitration is completed.  The decision must be in writing and signed by the arbitrator and notice is given to both parties.  Thereafter, pursuant to C.G.S. Section 52-417, within one year from the date of the decision, either party may make an application to the Court to confirm the award.  The award will be confirmed unless the award is vacated, modified, or corrected by the Court.

Can I Challenge an Arbitration Ruling?

Yes.  Under certain limited circumstances, such as corruption, fraud, misconduct, or if the arbitrator has exceed his or her powers, an arbitration award may be vacated pursuant to C.G.S. Section 52-418.  Arbitration awards may also be modified or corrected pursuant to C.G.S. Section 52-419 if there has been an evident miscalculation of figures, an evident material mistake, if the arbitrator decided issues not submitted to him or her, or if the award is imperfect in matter of form not affecting the merits of the controversy.  Motions to vacate, modify, or correct an arbitration award must be brought within thirty days of the date of notice of the decision pursuant to C.G.S. Section 52-420.

At Broder & Orland LLC, we have extensive experience in all aspects of divorce-related arbitrations.  Our experienced attorneys will counsel you to ensure that arbitration is right for you and your case.

 

The Best Way to Prepare for Divorce? Get Organized!

This Week’s Blog by Jaime S. Dursht

Ask any top divorce attorney in Greenwich, New Canaan, Darien, Westport and beyond, what practical steps should be taken to prepare for the divorce process, and the answer will be to locate and organize your financial records.

Which Financial Records are the Most Important?

At a minimum your past 3 years of individual tax returns; past 2 years of bank statements, credit card statements and retirement accounts; the last year of pay stubs; and any life insurance and medical insurance policies.  In every marital dissolution action, this is mandatory disclosure so it helps to have it organized ahead of time.

What if I Do Not Have Access to Accounts?

Most accounts can be readily accessed online if the account is in your name or jointly with your spouse.  If you are unsure, call the financial institutions and find out how to establish online access or how best to obtain statements.  Many are surprised to learn that lack of accessibility is simply a lack of familiarity that is easily overcome.   If the account is in your spouse’s sole name, then it is his/her obligation to provide it.

Is There a Time Frame or a Due Date?

The time frame is generally within the first 30 days from when the action filed, when many attorneys formally request production.  Officially, the due date is 60 calendar days from the date of the written request.

Do I Need to Print Paper Copies?

No.  Electronic copies are preferred, but if you do have paper copies, consider scanning them to avoid the possibility of incurring a fee for law firm staff to do it.

Are There Additional Documents that will be Required?

Yes.  It is common practice for attorneys to request an exhaustive list of any kind of document relating to an interest held in any type of asset or source of income.  For example, appraisals, trusts, deferred compensation, business interests, inheritances, educational savings, safe deposit box contents, and employment contracts.

What Happens if a Party Does Not Comply?

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for a party to object to discovery requests, for example, on the grounds that the particular request is “overbroad, unduly burdensome, and not reasonably calculated to the discovery of admissible evidence.”  When there is disagreement over discovery, there is the possibility that court involvement will be necessary to resolve the issue.

When it comes to the discovery process, we encourage our clients to maintain an open and cooperative approach to avoid disagreements that often cause delays and end up being costly for both sides.  So if there is anything practical you can do to prepare yourself, it is to organize your files, and familiarize yourself as best you can with your financial records.

With offices in Westport and Greenwich, the attorneys at Broder & Orland LLC are extremely knowledgeable and experienced with the process of discovery and how to resolve the various issues that arise throughout each case.

Rebuttal Experts in a Connecticut Divorce

This Week’s Blog by Christopher J. DeMattie

What Is A Rebuttal Expert?

Generally, in a Connecticut divorce matter, a rebuttal expert is an individual whom you hire to challenge the opinions of your spouse’s expert.  For example, the individual’s field of expertise could be in the following areas: (a) real estate valuation, (b) business valuation, (c) tax, (d) earning capacity, (e) alcoholism, (f) coercive control, (g) child development, or (h) mental health.

What Are The Duties Of A Rebuttal Expert?

A rebuttal expert could be hired to assist in a number of roles.  The engagement could also evolve as your matter progresses.  The two major roles are: (a) consulting and (b) challenging the opinion of a competing expert.

In the consulting role, the rebuttal expert could assist you with your case in a number of ways.  First, the expert could assist you and your attorneys with developing a strategy.  For example, you could hire a tax lawyer or accountant to help analyze the tax impact of certain assets you could receive as part of the division or property, or you could hire a real estate appraiser to determine if your spouse’s stated value of the marital residence conforms to the actual fair market value of the property. Second, the rebuttal expert could assist with critiquing the report and analysis of your spouse’s expert.  For example, if your spouse disclosed an expert who issued a report concluding he or she was subjected to coercive control, your rebuttal expert would assist in analyzing the report to determine if the proper forensic steps were taken to support the conclusion.  Further, a rebuttal expert could help you and your attorneys develop questions for the deposition or cross-examination of your spouse’s expert to highlight the weaknesses in that expert’s opinion.

In the challenging role, your rebuttal expert follows the proper protocols in his or her field and provides a formal opinion on the same subject matter as your spouse’s expert.  As stated above, the opinion could be: (a) the fair market value of the marital residence in Greenwich is $4,000,000, (b) your spouse has an earning capacity of $250,000, or (c) is it in your children’s best interest to relocate out of the state of Connecticut. After your expert reaches an opinion, you must formally disclose that person in advance of trial in accordance with the rules of practice or Court Orders.

Sometimes, your rebuttal expert could begin as a consultant, but as your case progresses you formally disclose your rebuttal expert and have this person issue a formal report and potentially testify at trial.  It then becomes “a battle of the experts.”

When Would I Need A Rebuttal Expert?

In some matters at Broder & Orland LLC we hire a rebuttal expert as soon as a divorce is filed. It may be necessary to help tailor a specific strategy for your case, especially if a unique issue is identified early on. In other matters, we do not hire a rebuttal expert until after your spouse formally discloses his or her expert.  Even then, the engagement of your rebuttal expert could be short if your expert agrees with the opinion of your spouse’s expert.  Further, sometimes your spouse’s expert and your rebuttal expert could communicate (only with you and your spouse’s consent), and they could agree on an opinion for settlement purposes.  In some matters, experts play a pivotal role in settlement.

At Broder & Orland LLC our team approach extends to the experts we assemble on a case-by-case basis. In cases involving high net worth individuals, we routinely work with business valuation experts, financial experts and forensic accountants. In cases involving custody, visitation and parenting plans, we often work with private investigators, parenting coordinators, psychiatrists, therapists and social workers.  By partnering with these professionals, we are sure to obtain a clear understanding of the specific issues of each case. This is true, for example, in a divorce involving a complex business valuation, drug and alcohol abuse by a parent, or custody considerations for a special needs child.