Since joining BRODER & ORLAND LLC in 2012, Chris has handled hundreds of family law cases, including those with sophisticated financial matters and complex children’s issues. He has notably prevailed in defending and prosecuting numerous relocation cases. Chris has met with much success in settling and trying cases and has proven adept at knowing when to do either. He has also represented clients in the negotiation and drafting of complex Cohabitation, Prenuptial, and Postnuptial Agreements. Chris has been recognized by the Connecticut Law Tribune as a 2017 New Leader in the Law and has also been selected a New England Super Lawyers ® Rising Star® 2014-2019 in the area of Family Law.
This Week’s Blog by Carole T. Orland.
HOW TO DIVORCE DISCREETLY
- Are divorce records public?
Generally, yes. However, experienced divorce attorneys in Westport, Greenwich, and other Fairfield County locations know how to limit public exposure by negotiating a divorce agreement prior to filing an action. Once the agreement is finalized, it may be possible to file the action and get divorced the same day!
- What is the advantage of handling a divorce in a discreet manner?
Most importantly, it protects the children from conflict and/or embarrassment. It also protects the parties from scrutiny or disclosures of personal information.
- Can wealth and fame be protected in a discreet manner?
Yes. High asset and/or celebrity divorces can be handled in a discreet manner, without public disclosure of sensitive or proprietary information. It is an effective way of protecting one’s career and reputation.
- Do both parties have to agree to handle their divorce in this manner?
Yes. Without such an agreement or understanding between the parties, one spouse or the other could file for divorce and litigate the case, which then becomes public. Divorce files are available to anyone who wants to see them and courtrooms are generally open to the public, meaning your divorce could be on display to the public.
- Will handling a divorce discreetly result in lower attorneys’ fees?
Most often, yes! Litigation typically drives up costs. That’s not to say that a discreet divorce is always inexpensive. There may be complicated assets which could require valuations such as interests in private equity, hedge funds, venture capital funds, closely held businesses, start-up companies, stock options, and restricted stock. These interests may require special expertise and time to sort out but the cost will be considerably less than sorting this out through protracted litigation.
- How can the parties assist in a discreet divorce?
It will be important to get all your ducks in a row as expeditiously and efficiently as possible. Prepare a spreadsheet of all assets and liabilities, regardless of whose name they are titled in.
Discuss between you and your spouse what your goals and objectives are with regard to the division of assets. With your attorney, determine if spousal support will be an element of your divorce agreement.
- How should you handle children’s issues?
Make your Parenting Plan a priority. Be realistic about what is in the best interests of your children and the times each parent can be available to have them. If necessary, utilize professionals such as therapists or social workers to arrive at the best plan. Have it ready to go as soon as possible so you can then turn your attention to financial matters.
At Broder & Orland LLC we are very experienced in handling divorces in a discreet manner. While often these cases involve extreme wealth or celebrity status, the principle can apply to any parties who want to shield their personal lives from the public. Done properly, it is an efficient and generally more cost effective way to get divorced. And of course, it is more civil as well!
This Week’s Blog by Nicole M. DiGiose.
What is Discovery?
Discovery is the process by which information is exchanged in your divorce case. Discovery typically involves written requests for documents, written requests for answers to questions, and depositions. During the discovery process, each side will have the opportunity to get transparency on the family’s financial circumstances, as well as the causes for the breakdown of the marriage. Discovery is permitted if the disclosure sought would be of assistance in the prosecution or defense of the action.
When does the Discovery Process Start?
A party may file a Request for Production at any time after the Return Date. The Return Date is selected when a divorce action is commenced. It is approximately thirty days after the initial divorce papers are signed.
What is a Request for Production?
A Request for Production is a written request for the other party to provide certain documents. Typically, the documents requested are related to a party’s income, expenses, assets, liabilities, and the causes for the breakdown of the marriage. A Request for Production is not necessarily a standard form. In a Connecticut divorce, certain discovery is mandatory: tax returns, W-2s, K-1s, and 1099s, paystubs, account statements, retirement statements, life insurance statements, medical insurance summaries, and appraisals. However, a party may request other categories of documents, for example, those related to trusts and estates, businesses, telephone records, calendars, and photographs.
How Long do I have to Respond to a Request for Production?
Sixty days, but an extension may be sought.
What are Requests to Admit?
A Request to Admit is a written request for the other party to admit or deny certain statements under oath. Similar to a Request to Admit is a Request for Interrogatories. A Request for Interrogatories is a written request for the other party to answer certain questions under oath. A Request for Interrogatories is rarely used in a Connecticut divorce. More often, Depositions are taken instead if a party can afford the cost.
How Long do I have to Respond to a Request to Admit and a Request for Interrogatories?
Thirty days, but an extension may be sought. If a response is not given within thirty days, or longer pursuant to an extension, all requests are deemed to be admitted. A party has sixty days to respond to a Request for Interrogatories.
Can I Object to a Discovery Request?
In a Connecticut divorce, discovery is broad. However, some requests may be objectionable. A party may object to a particular request on the grounds that it is overly broad, unduly burdensome, not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence, not reasonably limited in scope or timeframe, or crafted merely to harass, annoy, or embarrass the party from whom discovery is sought. Pursuant to Practice Book Section 13-10(i), the attorneys must first make good faith attempts to resolve the objection, and only if they are unable to do so, a Judge will rule on the objection. If an objection is overruled, the documents must be produced by a date set by the Judge.
What Happens if a Party Doesn’t Respond to a Discovery Request?
If a party does not respond to a Discovery request, the requesting party may file a Motion to Compel, also known as a Motion for Order of Compliance. That Motion requests that a Judge order the other party to produce the requested documents.
What is a Deposition?
A Deposition is when an attorney orally asks the other party questions under oath outside of Courtroom setting, usually in a lawyer’s office
Is Discovery the Same in Every Case?
No. The amount of discovery needed, as well as the method(s) by which discovery is obtained will vary on a case by case basis. Complex cases typically require a more thorough investigation. This may occur where a party’s income structure is not straightforward, or if there are business interests or investments, for example. The form(s) of discovery, as well as the specific requests, are tailored to the needs of each case.
Whether it’s deciding which discovery mechanisms to utilize, compiling your discovery responses, or reviewing the other party’s discovery responses, our skilled attorneys at Broder & Orland LLC will walk you through every step of the discovery process.
Sarah E. Murray Presents on Cohabitation Issues in Family Law Cases at Westport-Weston Bar Association.
Sarah E. Murray, Partner at Broder & Orland LLC, gave a seminar at the Westport-Weston Bar Association on November 21, 2019, entitled “Navigating Cohabitation Issues in Connecticut Family Law Cases.” She discussed relevant case law regarding the modification of alimony in Connecticut on the basis of cohabitation, including takeaways for preparing and presenting a cohabitation case. She also delved into considerations when drafting Separation Agreement language regarding the modifiability of alimony based on cohabitation.
This Week’s Blog by Jaime S. Dursht.
How are Same-Sex Divorces Handled in Connecticut?
Same-sex divorce in Connecticut is governed by the same Family Law statutes as heterosexual divorce, however, there are particular issues that should be analyzed at the outset of the process to ensure a successful outcome. Connecticut legally recognized same-sex marriage in 2008, and since then there have been additional changes in both Federal and State law that have affected the application of Family Law in Connecticut. For example, in 2016, the Internal Revenue Service issued a ruling re-defining terms such as “spouse,” “husband and wife” and “marriage” to include individuals married to a person of the same sex if the individuals are lawfully married under state law. Because the divorce process involves asset division and transfers that are exempt from taxation if pursuant to divorce, applicability is particularly important because it is based on recognition of one’s legal marital status.
How is Jurisdiction of Same-Sex Divorce Determined in Connecticut?
Connecticut not only recognizes same-sex marriage, but will automatically merge civil unions that were entered into prior to the marriage (Conn. Gen. Stat. 46b-38qq). Connecticut will also recognize an out-of-state relationship as marriage if the jurisdiction of origin provides substantially the same rights, benefits and responsibilities as a marriage recognized in Connecticut (Conn. Gen. Stat. 46b-28a). This means that if an individual meets the residency requirements of living in Connecticut for at least 12 months prior to the filing of a divorce action, parties to a formal relationship originating in another state may divorce in Connecticut so long as the relationship criteria are met.
How are Custody and Parenting Plans in Same-Sex Divorce Handled in Connecticut?
An initial step for parties with children in any divorce is to determine the parenting arrangements. In same-sex divorce, custody and parenting plans can be established once the child(ren)’s legal parents are identified. This is because Connecticut statutes providing for parental rights and obligations of both custody and support extend and apply to legally recognized parents. For same-sex couples that may include confirming the existence of a surrogacy agreement, legal adoption and co-adoption, and spousal consent under the alternative reproductive technology law. A parent who is not legally recognized as such may assert custodial rights, but only through a third-party custody proceeding. In Connecticut, there is a marital presumption that a child born to a married woman is presumed to be the child of both individuals in the marriage. When Connecticut recognized same-sex marriages in 2008, the presumption extended to children born to individuals in same-sex marriages.
Once parentage is established, the same statutory criteria apply with respect to determining parenting plans in accordance with best interests of the children (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46b-56) and with respect to the calculation and enforcement of child support (Conn. Gen. Stat. 46b-37).
What are Factors to Consider for Alimony and Asset Division in a Connecticut Same-Sex Divorce?
In Connecticut, one of the statutory factors that is considered in both the calculation of alimony and the equitable division of assets is “the length of the marriage.” (Conn. Gen. Stat. 46b-81 and 82). Since Connecticut legally recognizes same-sex marriages, it would seem to be a straightforward determination, however, some couples have been together far longer than Connecticut has recognized that legal relationship and want to include that time. Connecticut does not recognize cohabitation or common-law marriage, but Connecticut civil unions are automatically merged into marriages by operation of statute (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46b-38rr(a)), and Connecticut will recognize legal relationships entered into outside of Connecticut as marriage as long as that relationship conferred similar legal rights and obligations benefits of marriage in the state of origin making it possible to include it in the length of the marriage.
What are Federal Tax Considerations for Same-Sex Divorce in Connecticut?
The Internal Revenue Service redefined its marital status terms in 2016 to include individuals married to another person of the same sex if the couple is lawfully married under state law. IRS Revenue Ruling 2013-17 specifically excludes domestic partnerships, civil unions and other formal relationships that are not recognized as marriage under state law. This is important for individuals in same-sex marriages and by extension, divorce, because not all individuals will be able to claim alimony payments as non-taxable income for example or characterize lump sum alimony as a non-taxable property distribution incident to divorce.
Broder & Orland LLC, with offices in Westport and Greenwich, concentrates in family law and divorce. Our attorneys are experienced with the unique issues faced by individuals in a same-sex divorce, and understand the evolving law with respect to both parenting and financial planning to achieve the desired results moving forward.
This Week’s Blog by Andrew M. Eliot.
Do Grandparents Have any Legal Visitation Rights
In Connecticut, grandparents do not have any inherent or “automatic” legal rights with respect to access to or visitation with a grandchild. That said, pursuant to governing Connecticut statutes, a grandparent (and, in fact, any third-party), has the right to petition the court for visitation rights with respect to a minor child.
Under What Circumstances Will Connecticut Courts Grant Visitation Rights to a Non-Parent?
Pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes §46b-59, any person may submit a verified petition to the Superior Court for the right of visitation with any minor child. In order to succeed on such a petition, the person seeking visitation rights with a minor child must prove, by “clear and convincing evidence,” that: (i) a “parent-like relationship” exists between the petitioning party and the minor child; and (ii) that denial of visitation would cause “real and significant harm.” See C.G.S. §46b-59.
How Do Courts Assess Whether a “Parent-Like Relationship” Exists Between a Minor Child and a Non-Parent?
In assessing whether a “parent-like relationship” exists between a non-parent and a minor child, courts may consider (but are not limited to considering), the following factors:
- The existence and length of a relationship between the person and the minor child;
- The length of time that the relationship between the person and the minor child has been disrupted;
- The specific parent-like activities of the person seeking visitation toward the minor child;
- Any evidence that the person seeking visitation has unreasonably undermined the authority and discretion of the custodial parent;
- The significant absence of a parent from the life of a minor child;
- The death of one of the minor child’s parents;
- The physical separation of the parents of the minor child;
- The fitness of the person seeking visitation; and
- The fitness of the custodial parent.
Is the “Parent-Like Relationship” Standard Any Different for Grandparents?
Notably, the answer to this question is “yes.” In addition to the factors enumerated above, Connecticut’s governing statute sets forth one additional consideration for assessing whether a “parent-like relationship” exists between a non-parent and a minor child that is applicable only to grandparents. Specifically, Connecticut General Statutes §46b-59(d) provides that in determining whether a parent-like relationship exists between a grandparent and a minor child, the Superior Court may consider “the history of regular contact and proof of a close and substantial relationship between the grandparent and the minor child.”
How Do Courts Determine Whether Denial of Visitation Would Cause Real and Significant Harm?
While there is no definitive answer to this question, in situations where a petitioning party is able to establish the existence of a “parent-like relationship,” Courts typically find that the requisite harm standard is met were visitation to be denied due to the negative effects that severing such a relationship would have on a child. Stated somewhat differently, the requisite harm will generally be established where a third party who has acted as parent to the child is abruptly cut out of the child’s life.
What Will Visitation Look Like if a Non-Parent Petition is Successful?
If the Court grants visitation rights to a non-parent, the governing statute directs courts to set forth the terms and conditions of the visitation including, but not limited to, the schedule of visitation, time and place or places in which the visitation can occur, whether overnight visitation will be allowed and any other terms and conditions that the court determines are in the best interest of the minor child. Notably, in determining the best interest of the minor child, Courts are also directed by statute to consider the wishes of the minor child if such minor child is “of sufficient age and capable of forming an intelligent opinion.” See C.G.S. §46b-59(f).
Although rare, cases involving grandparent (or non-parent) visitation rights are often extremely complex and, in order to be handled properly, require a great deal of expertise and attention. At Broder & Orland LLC, we have extensive experience handling such matters and are poised to help clients achieve favorable results when such issues arise.
This Week’s Blog by Christopher J. DeMattie.
What is Parental Alienation?
Alienating Behavior is defined as an action by a parent which threatens the relationship between a child and a parent.
Parental Alienation has been defined as: “circumstance where one parent portrays the other parent in a negative light, and the child takes note of such portrayal. The child has less or no contact with the alienated parent based on the perception put forth by the other parent.” In re Jaime S., 120 Conn. App. 712, 726–28 (2010).
Thus, the difference between Alienating Behavior and Parental Alienation is for there to be Parental Alienation, alienating behaviors must result in the child having less or no contact with the parent being alienated.
Some examples of Alienating Behavior are:
- Unreasonably calling the police on the other parent;
- Unreasonably calling the Department of Children and Families (DCF) on the other parent;
- Abducting a child;
- Preventing parenting time;
- Severing communication between a parent and child; or
- Telling a child to lie to disrupt parenting time.
Do Connecticut Family Courts Recognize Parental Alienation Syndrome?
The short answer is no. The Court in Mastrangelo v. Mastrangelo, No. NNHFA054012782S, 2012 WL 6901161, held: “the concept of ‘parental alienation syndrome’ does not meet the relevant standards.” The Court based its reasoning in part that: “the concept of ‘parental alienation syndrome’ is not recognized as a disorder by the medical or legal communities and the theory and related research have been extensively criticized by legal and mental health scholars for lacking scientific validity and reliability.”
How does Parental Alienation Impact my Connecticut Divorce?
Even though Parental Alienation Syndrome is not recognized by Connecticut Family Courts, the underlying actions or behavior by a parent may have a major impact on your divorce, especially concerning issues of legal custody and parenting time. When entering orders relative to custody, care, education, or visitation, the Court is governed by Connecticut General Statutes §46b-56. Specifically, the Court shall consider the best interest of the child and sixteen factors are listed, which the Court may consider. Of the sixteen factors, three relate directly to the issues of Alienating Behavior and Parental Alienation. Specifically: “…(6) the willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage such continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent as is appropriate, including compliance with any court orders; (7) any manipulation by or coercive behavior of the parents in an effort to involve the child in the parents’ dispute; …(12) the mental and physical health of all individuals involved, except that a disability of a proposed custodial parent or other party, in and of itself, shall not be determinative of custody unless the proposed custodial arrangement is not in the best interests of the child;…”
If you believe your spouse is attempting to alienate the children from you, it is important to contemporaneously document the alienating behavior as best you can. For example, if your spouse is making it difficult for you to spend time or communicate with your children, it will be beneficial to make requests in writing (email is preferable to text messages) requesting dates and times to spend with your children and/ or talk to them. This way you will be able to prove that you made the requests and your spouse’s responses (good or bad) could end up as evidence as well.
Broder & Orland LLC, with offices in Westport and Greenwich, CT, concentrates specifically in the areas of family law, matrimonial law and divorce. As experienced divorce and custody trial lawyers we understand how to effectively prosecute and defend cases involving Parental Alienation to the Court, as well as how to retain the necessary consultants and/or experts for your case.
This Week’s Blog by Sarah E. Murray.
I Have a Contested Custody Case: What are My Options for a Custody Evaluation?
In some divorce cases in Connecticut where legal or physical custody is at issue, or where there is a significant custody-related dispute, such as a dispute regarding a parent’s relocation with the children, a custody evaluation can take place. A custody evaluation is performed by a neutral mental health professional, such as a psychologist or social worker, who is trained to perform custody evaluations in litigated custody cases. The purpose of the custody evaluation is to cull information about the parties and their children that has bearing on the particular custody dispute, to interpret that information for the Court, and, typically, to make recommendations regarding the dispute. A custody evaluation does not take place in every custody case in Connecticut; however, if the parties or the Court decide that a custody evaluation is necessary, there are options for the type of custody evaluation that can take place. Two types of custody evaluations in Connecticut are evaluations that take place through the Family Services Unit and evaluations that are performed privately by forensic psychologists.
Who Decides Whether a Custody Evaluation Will Occur?
Many times, the parties and their counsel in a contested custody case will agree that a custody evaluation should take place. Typically, experienced counsel will agree as to the type of custody evaluation that is appropriate given the particular facts and circumstances of the case. If there is an agreement as to both the decision to have a custody evaluation and the type of custody evaluation, the parties and their counsel will prepare a Stipulation setting forth the scope of the evaluation and will present the Stipulation for approval by the Court.
If there is no agreement that a custody evaluation should take place, or, if there is no agreement as to the type of custody evaluation that is appropriate for the case, one or both parties can file a Motion requesting that the Court order a custody evaluation. If a Motion is filed, the Court will hear argument from both parties as to why a custody evaluation should or should not take place and the type of evaluation that is appropriate. The judge will then decide whether to order a custody evaluation, and, if ordered, the type of custody evaluation. If a private custody evaluation is ordered, the Court will enter orders as to how the evaluator will be paid.
What is a Family Services Evaluation?
The Family Services Unit is an arm of the Connecticut Judicial Branch system that assists the Court in the resolution of disputes in family law cases, including custody cases. They have offices in each courthouse. The Family Services Unit provides several different services to the Court system, including Issue-Focused Evaluations and Comprehensive Evaluations in contested custody cases. An Issue-Focused Evaluation involves the evaluation of a limited disputed issue, and so the information-gathering is usually tailored to that issue. These evaluations typically take the least amount of time to perform because they have a limited scope. A Comprehensive Evaluation is more appropriate when broad custody and/or parenting plan issues are in dispute.
Family Relations Counselors, who work in the Family Services Unit, are trained in mediating custody disputes and in performing custody evaluations. If a case is referred to Family Services for an evaluation, whether by agreement of the parties or by a judge, a Family Relations Counselor will be assigned to perform the evaluation.
A Family Services Evaluation will typically include meetings with both parties, whether jointly or individually, meetings with the children, and home visits. Both parties usually will sign releases so that the Family Relations Counselor can speak with collateral sources, such as the children’s teachers, doctors, and mental health professionals. The Family Relations Counselor may also speak with the parties’ mental health professionals and doctors as well.
How Does a Private Custody Evaluation Differ from a Family Services Evaluation?
In a private custody evaluation, a forensic psychologist performs the custody evaluation, as opposed to the Family Services Unit. One of the biggest differences between a private custody evaluation and a Family Services Evaluation is cost, as the Family Services Evaluation is performed at no cost to the parties, whereas the private custody evaluation must be paid for by the parties. The private custody evaluator will perform many, if not all, of the same tasks as a Family Relations Counselor, as described above, but the private custody evaluator will often perform psychological testing on the parties and the children. After performing these tests, the forensic psychologist will analyze the results, particularly with respect to how the results inform any recommendations as to custody. For a variety of reasons, including the psychological testing, private custody evaluations usually take longer to complete than Family Services Evaluations. Some parties opt for a private custody study, however, because they think that the psychological testing will provide valuable information regarding their case.
Will a Written Report be Prepared in Both Types of Custody Evaluations?
Yes. The written reports prepared in a custody evaluation should set forth in detail the findings of the custody evaluator, the days and times he or she met or spoke with the parties, the children, and collateral sources, and will include his or her recommendations. In a private custody evaluation, interpretation of psychological testing results will be included.
Are the Recommendations in the Custody Evaluation Binding?
Regardless of what type of custody evaluation takes place in your case, the results are not binding on either party. That said, the recommendations in a custody evaluation are given great weight by a Court in deciding custody disputes. It is typical in a custody trial that the custody evaluator testifies in Court and that his or her report is entered into evidence. While a judge has discretion in custody cases and does not have to agree with the custody evaluator, the custody evaluator’s analysis will be presented to the Court for consideration.
Should I Have a Family Services Evaluation or a Private Custody Evaluation?
There is no “one size fits all” approach to custody evaluations, as the facts of each particular case are different. The decision as to whether a custody evaluation should take place, and what type of evaluation is appropriate, is a decision that should only be made after careful consultation with your family law attorney. There are many different factors to consider, including cost and time.
At Broder & Orland LLC, our attorneys have significant experience with custody cases and can provide you with advice regarding the type of custody evaluation best suited for your particular situation. It is important to know your options and discuss the pros and cons of each type of custody evaluation prior to making a decision, as custody evaluations carry great weight in either the settlement of or the trial of custody disputes.
This Week’s Blog by Lauren M. Healy.
Divorce in Connecticut—Who’s on your “team?”
Whether you are just starting to consider divorce or you are in the midst of divorce proceedings, having a team of carefully selected professionals to support you can make a huge difference when navigating through divorce.
- Legal counsel
One of the most important decisions that you make in your divorce case is who to retain as your attorney. It almost goes without saying that you should consider the personality and experience of an attorney before deciding that he or she is “the one.” A good fit between attorney and client can make the entire process of divorce more tolerable.
Before you decide who will represent you, consider not just the individual attorney that you are hiring, but also the firm behind the attorney. For example, inquire about the size of the firm and whether other attorneys will be working on your case. The approachability and reliability of support staff is also an important consideration that is often overlooked.
- Emotional and mental health support
Friends and family are useful sounding boards. However, don’t be surprised if your attorney asks whether you have a therapist (psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker) in place. You may even be asked this as early as in the initial consultation. It is not meant to be invasive. Your attorney should know what type of support (other than legal support) you have as you engage in the divorce process. If you do not have a therapist, your attorney may be able to provide you with some recommendations. Experienced attorneys should have a network of therapists to consider in making a tailored recommendation for a client.
You may be concerned that there is a stigma attached to seeing a mental health provider before or during your divorce. While your attorney can best advise you about the pros and cons, experienced divorce attorneys have generally found that to be untrue. Therapists can be valuable team members during divorce.
- Financial experts and consultants
Depending on the issues in your case, you may need to obtain a financial expert or consultant to assist you in forensic accounting, valuing a business, financial planning, discovering assets, or even just to help with basic or complex tax issues. It is best to identify the need for experts early in your case, so they can be involved with discovery as needed. You may even develop a working relationship with the expert(s) during the divorce and continue to utilize his or her services (such as accounting or financial planning) after the divorce action.
At Broder & Orland LLC we are proud of our team approach to resolving divorce issues. We frequently staff cases with more than one attorney from our firm, in an effort to provide seamless litigation and/or settlement support to our clients. We are experienced in building support teams for our clients, which often include mental health providers and/or relevant experts and consultants.
This Week’s Blog by Carole T. Orland.
What should I do if I am thinking about divorce?
You should do some soul searching if you haven’t already. Reflect on what is happening in your relationship and whether there is any hope of repairing it. Seek marriage counseling or couples therapy to get support or assistance in working though conflicts. The decision whether or not to divorce may become clearer as you go through that process.
How can I understand what it means to get divorced?
There are many books and articles about divorce. Also, you likely have many friends and relatives who have been divorced and are happy to share their experiences (or nightmares!) with you. But the best source for the real facts is to consult with an experienced divorce attorney who will give you accurate information. This will include how to protect yourself; the divorce procedure; the discovery process; what to expect regarding alimony, child support and property division; valuation issues; how long the divorce will take; and what it will cost.
What if I don’t want my spouse to know I’m consulting with a divorce attorney?
Good question. Once you consult with a divorce attorney a privilege exists which prohibits that attorney from disclosing to anyone, particularly your spouse, any discussion about legal advice. Furthermore, an experienced divorce attorney will be discreet and never disclose to your spouse that you have consulted with him or her.
Should I surprise my wife with service or give her a head’s up in advance?
Once you have decided to proceed with your divorce and unless there is some reason to believe putting your wife on notice that she will be served with divorce papers will result in an untoward consequence, it is more reasonable to let her know you will be serving her. This can be achieved by the marshal arranging with her a place and time, or if she will have an attorney, by serving that attorney. Never, ever have a marshal serve her in front of the kids or when they are home.
How do I break this to the kids?
In most families where divorce is on the horizon, fighting, bickering and unbecoming behavior have been evident even to the youngest kids. Even if there has been little outward animosity, kids can sense tension. Also, most kids are tuned into divorce through their friends, neighbors or relatives. It probably won’t be a huge shock to them that mom and dad are getting divorced. However, they are likely to be sad and sometimes, angry. Be proactive about alerting teachers, clergy, and professional providers that a divorce is imminent so your kids can receive the support and sensitivity they need. Always watch for signs that your kids are experiencing negative effects, such as health issues, deteriorating school performance, and relationship difficulties. Talk to your spouse about arranging counseling or therapy for your kids, if necessary.
The decision to divorce is one of the toughest ones you will make in your lifetime. And especially so if you still love your wife, as is sometimes the case. At Broder & Orland LLC, our divorce attorneys are sensitive to the emotions that go hand in hand with a divorce as we dispense experienced legal advice. We will virtually hold your hand through the process, while protecting you and advocating on your behalf to the utmost extent. We are available to arrange a discreet consultation with you in our Westport or Greenwich office, whichever is more convenient for you.