Month: May 2020

Broder & Orland LLC

Should I settle or go to trial?

This is a question that most divorce litigants face during their case. The majority of clients early on express a desire to settle. It’s a rare person who would rather go through the pain, anguish and financial cost of a divorce trial if there were an opportunity for an amicable resolution. Experienced divorce attorneys know that virtually all cases should be settled. But sometimes there are circumstances that make that impossible.

Do Custody cases have to go to trial?

Because of the emotional aspect of contested custody cases, it is sometimes difficult to settle them short of trial. This is especially so when one spouse or the other has engaged in abuse, or when drugs or alcohol are involved. But even in cases with these issues, competent counsel will access support from appropriate professionals to assist with arriving at a workable plan that is in the best interests of the children. It’s not uncommon to find that once the layers are peeled back, a dispute isn’t so much about custody as it is about a realistic Parenting Plan. At the end of the day, most parents should want to control their destiny and that of their children, rather than having a judge dictate the terms to them.

Do cases involving complex financial matters require a trial?

When there are disputes about financial matters, such as valuations, alternative assets, compensation structures, and real estate appraisals, it is sometimes hard to resolve a case without trial. However, if both sides have engaged in reputable experts, often those experts can work to resolve the difference between them, clearing the way for a settlement. When at all possible, it is preferable to come to an agreement outside of court, rather than presenting complicated financial testimony to a judge who is hearing it for the first time and who is forced to weigh in on competing experts who have a high level acumen and familiarity with the issues. 

Is it important to choose a divorce attorney with trial experience even if you are hoping to settle your case?

There are unquestionably certain cases that will end up at trial. Sometimes it is a result of the personalities of the parties and the degree of vengeance between them. Other times, it is legitimate that a result that cannot be otherwise negotiated. Having a divorce attorney with considerable trial experience is important. This is so even if it is clear the case will likely not go to trial because an experienced trial attorney will be able to provide context for you about a likely result after trial compared to a reasonable settlement. Also, if opposing counsel and his/her client knows the other side is a successful trial attorney, it may provide motivation to forge an out-of -court settlement. 

How and when do you decide whether to settle or have your case tried by a judge?

This is a decision that is often fluid throughout the case as circumstances change. For example, you may initially be steadfast in your desire to settle the case, but your spouse fails to cooperate or becomes entrenched in a position that is untenable. On the other hand, you may initially think a trial is the only way to resolve your case, but as the case is litigated, you realize that there are ways to resolve it amicably. An experienced divorce attorney, who has both excellent negotiation and trial skills, will be able to counsel you on your decision. At the end of the day, it is up to the client to make the final decision.

How risky can a trial be?

 A recent decision after trial by our office resulted in a shock to our client’s ex-spouse. Unhappy with the existing joint custody, he initiated an action for sole custody and forced a trial that lasted for sixteen days. Not only was his Motion denied, but the Court ordered that our client have sole legal custody! That is a stark example of the risk of going to trial.

Contact Broder & Orland Today

With offices in Westport and Greenwich, our divorce lawyers are skilled negotiators who strive for settlement whenever possible, but are also experienced and successful trial attorneys who can excel at trial when the occasion arises. We regularly counsel our clients throughout their case on the choice of whether to settle or go to trial and our experience has most often led to very favorable results. Please contact us today to go over your case. 

CAN I GET DIVORCED ONLINE WITHOUT GOING TO COURT IN CONNECTICUT?

This Week’s Blog by Westport divorce lawyer Jaime S. Dursht

CAN I GET DIVORCED ONLINE WITHOUT GOING TO COURT IN CONNECTICUT?

Yes, the State of Connecticut Judicial Branch has announced that uncontested divorces will be permitted remotely, without the requirement of physical presence in court. This is significant given the current status of court closures because it means that if you have reached agreement with your spouse on the terms of your divorce, you will be able to proceed to judgment on the papers.

Are Divorce Separation Agreements Negotiated Remotely in Connecticut?

The majority of divorce settlements are negotiated remotely with the exchange of settlement correspondence followed by drafts of the divorce agreements (called Separation Agreements). If negotiation reaches impasse, there are alternate dispute resolution options that are available on a virtual basis. Proceedings that were held in conference rooms two months ago are now taking place over conference calls and virtual meeting space. Professional mediators are conducting sessions using Zoom for example, and attorneys continue to move their cases forward utilizing remote applications and tools that are no less effective from home computers.

What are the Uncontested Divorce Requirements in Connecticut?

The Judicial Branch filing system has been paperless since 2015 when it required the electronic filing of nearly all legal documents and pleadings that would otherwise have been filed in person at the courthouse clerks’ offices. To proceed with an uncontested divorce, a fully executed Separation Agreement and sworn Financial Affidavits must be e-filed with the court, and if applicable, Child Support Guidelines, an Affidavit Concerning Children, and Advisement of Rights. Until recently, the parties and counsel were required to personally appear before a judge for an uncontested hearing for approval and entry of the Separation Agreement as final orders of the court.

What is the Procedure for a Final Online Divorce in Connecticut?

The Judicial Branch has now made it possible to meet the legal requirements of an uncontested divorce online by requiring Affidavits to be filed (Affidavit in Support of Entry of Divorce Judgment, Plaintiff or Defendant) in lieu of in-person testimony, and a Request for Approval of Final Agreement Without Court Appearance.

Broder & Orland LLC, with offices in Westport and Greenwich, concentrates in family law and divorce. Our attorneys are extremely knowledgeable and prepared to conduct remote and/or virtual negotiation and settlements as well as final online uncontested divorce.

HOW DOES THE CARES ACT IMPACT MY CONNECTICUT DIVORCE?

On March 27, 2020 the Congress passed H.R. 748, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security “CARES” Act. This Act is intended to provide emergency economic relief to individuals, families and businesses who are impacted by the 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic. How does the CARES Act impact your Connecticut Divorce?

How are Economic Impact Payments Treated in my Connecticut Divorce?
The CARES Act provides for Economic Impact Payments to be made to many American households based on Adjusted Gross Income (“AGI”) as reported on 2018 and 2019 Federal income tax returns. Eligibility is based on thresholds, for example, if you filed individually and had AGI less than $99,000, filed individually as head of household with AGI of less than $136,500, or filed jointly with AGI less than $198,000, you may be entitled to payments of up to $1,200 per adult and $500 per child.
If you are going through a divorce in Connecticut and you, your spouse and/or your children are entitled to economic impact payments, the payments constitute a marital asset for purposes of dividing property, the same way that a tax refund would be.

If I am already divorced, who will receive the Economic Impact Payments on behalf of my children?
Whether or not your child is entitled to an impact payment depends on the financial information of the parent who claimed the child on a 2019 tax return. If neither parent filed a 2019 tax return, the payment will be based upon the parent who claimed the child in 2018. Payments are automatically made into the account or mailed to the address designated by the tax filer on his or her return.

How do I know if my Spouse Received Funds from the Paycheck Protection Program?
The paycheck protection program was established under the CARES Act and is intended to provide small businesses with up to eight weeks of payroll and other costs (such as rent, mortgage interest and utilities). If you are going through a divorce in Connecticut and your spouse owns a business, it probably worthwhile to formally request any and all documents and applications submitted to or received from the paycheck protection program (or any other Federal, State or Municipal relief, for that matter). This will not only inform you as to whether or not your spouse has received funds, but it will also provide you with documentation of the payroll and other financial information of the business in the months and years leading up to the divorce.

Will my alimony reconciliation be postponed due to the tax deadline extensions?
The IRS, in conjunction with the CARES Act, has extended the deadline to file and pay federal income taxes from April 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020. If your Separation Agreement provides for a reconciliation of alimony upon the filing of your ex-spouse’s tax return, and he or she is taking advantage of the extension, it will likely impact your ability to conduct a reconciliation. While you are waiting for the 2019 tax return to be filed, there may be other documents that you can request from your ex to at least start the reconciliation process, such as W-2s, year-end paystubs, 1099s and other supporting documents.

Broder & Orland LLC recommends that you seek advice from an experienced divorce attorney, as well as your tax professional and financial advisor as to how the CARES Act might affect you if you are divorced, divorcing or separated in Connecticut.