Tag: connecticut divorce

What Should I Expect at my Initial Divorce Consultation in Connecticut?

This Week’s Blog by Sarah E. Murray

What is the Purpose of the Initial Divorce Consultation?

After having made the difficult decision to contact an attorney regarding divorce and after making an appointment to meet with him or her, it is natural to feel apprehensive or to be unsure of what to expect at that initial meeting.  Most Fairfield County divorce clients have many questions about the divorce process, possible outcomes, and how Connecticut law applies to his or her case.  Those are all appropriate issues to be discussed in an initial consultation.  One of the primary purposes of the initial divorce consultation, in addition to information gathering, is for the potential client and the potential lawyer to meet in order to determine whether both the client and the lawyer are comfortable working together.  As a client, it is important to feel that you can trust your divorce attorney and that there is good communication between you and your divorce attorney.  The initial consultation is a good opportunity for both the lawyer and client to assess whether they can have a good working relationship during a sometimes difficult process.  

What Do I Need to Bring with Me to My First Meeting with a Potential Divorce Lawyer?

Among other things, it is important for a divorce attorney to have as much information as possible so that he or she can accurately evaluate the case and give the appropriate advice.  Of course, if you were the person served with divorce papers, you should bring those papers to the initial consult so that the attorney can review them and explain them to you.  At the first meeting with a divorce lawyer, however, it is not required that you bring any other documents with you.  The divorce attorney will listen to you and ask questions in order to gain a better understanding of the basic facts of the case.  There will be plenty of time after the initial consultation for you to provide relevant documentation to your lawyer.  While you do not need to bring documents with you to the initial consult, there are some documents that you can bring to make the meeting more productive.  For example, if there is a Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement in your case, you should bring a copy of that to the meeting.  Most top Fairfield County divorce attorneys will even ask to see the document in advance of the meeting so that he or she can review it beforehand.  Some people also like to bring relevant financial documentation to the meeting, such as tax returns and bank and brokerage accounts, so that specific financial questions they have can be addressed.

Is What I Discuss at My Initial Divorce Consultation Confidential?

The short answer to this question is: yes.  The information you provide to a potential divorce lawyer, even if you do not hire that person, is kept confidential.  Keep in mind, however, the caveat discussed below.

Should I Bring My Friend (or Family Member) to the Initial Consultation Meeting?

It is normal for people to want emotional support at an initial divorce consultation.  If a third party is present in a meeting between a potential client and a lawyer, that presence can jeopardize the confidentiality of the meeting, as confidentiality and attorney-client privilege typically only extend to the potential client.  If you deem it critical to bring a friend or family member with you to the initial consultation, you can discuss how to handle it with the potential divorce lawyer with whom you are meeting.  You and the divorce attorney may decide to have the friend or family member wait in the reception area during all or part of the meeting in order to protect the information discussed.

What are the General Topics Discussed during the Initial Consult?

In general terms, the best initial consultations cover the following topics, as applicable to the facts of your case: the divorce process in Connecticut, custody of minor children and parenting plans, discovery of relevant information during the divorce, division of assets and liabilities, and alimony and child support.  Top Fairfield County attorneys will also discuss with you strategy concerns and any other issues that may be particular to your case.  In order for the divorce lawyer to give you good advice, he or she will ask many questions, ranging from basic to very personal.  The more information you provide, the more you and a potential divorce attorney can begin crafting a timeline and strategy for your case.

What Questions Should I Ask at the Initial Divorce Consultation?

There is no question too insignificant for an initial divorce consult.  A good divorce attorney will want you to feel comfortable that your questions have been answered and will welcome any and all questions that you have.  There is very little that experienced divorce attorneys have not heard or been asked; so, do not be shy about sharing information or asking questions.  Beyond the typical questions about the divorce process, how long divorces in Connecticut typically last, and what to expect with respect to parenting and finances, you should also ask questions about the financial relationship between you and the potential lawyer.  You will want to know the attorney’s hourly rate, requested retainer or other fee arrangements, and how frequently you will receive invoices reflecting time spent on your case.    

At Broder & Orland LLC, we pride ourselves on our informative initial consultations, which typically initiate an effective attorney-client relationship that lasts throughout the case.  We strive to advise potential clients in a forthright manner so that they feel comfortable about what to expect from the divorce process in Connecticut and so that they understand their options moving forward.

Can I Date While Going Through My Divorce?

This Week’s Blog by Eric J. Broder

Is a Person Allowed to Date While Going through a Divorce?

Yes. There is no restriction against dating. In fact, it can often relieve the daily stress of the divorce process. However, as explained below, there are some important things to keep in mind if you decide to date while going through your divorce.

Can I buy Gifts for My Girlfriend/Boyfriend during my Divorce?

If a party purchases gifts for a girlfriend or boyfriend during the divorce process in the state of Connecticut, the Court could consider the expenditure(s) a dissipation of marital assets and allow the other party to receive a credit for such expenditure(s) at the time of dissolution.

Can I Introduce My Girlfriend/Boyfriend to my Children During the Divorce?

While there is no absolute restriction in Connecticut against doing so, it is highly advisable that a party does not take this step unless and until there is consent from the other party and/or it is done with the assistance of a therapist. Sharing this information with a 5-year-old is obviously different than sharing it with a 10-year-old or even a 15-year-old. Accordingly, we strongly suggest that you receive the proper advice before introducing your girlfriend/boyfriend to your children during a divorce.

Can I Remarry After my Divorce? If so, how soon Thereafter?

Yes, this is actually a more common question than people realize.  You may do so the next day.

Should I Wait to Date Until my Divorce is Final?

This is entirely an individual question and one must determine if he/she is emotionally ready. One reason to avoid dating is because if your spouse finds out, it may cause jealousy. This jealousy may manifest itself in a more aggressive and litigious approach, which may make it more difficult in trying to reach a resolution.

Do I Want my Spouse to Date During the Divorce?

The answer is often yes.  Many clients have said that the best thing that happened during the divorce was that their spouse started dating, because it kept him/her more grounded and calm throughout the process.

At Broder & Orland LLC we often discuss the pros and cons and the possible outcomes and issues that a party, and more importantly, his/her child(ren) may face as a result of dating during the divorce process.

The Financial Cost of Divorce

This Week’s Blog by Carole T. Orland

What will my Divorce Cost?

The short answer is that it is hard to know at the outset what a divorce will eventually cost.  Since virtually all divorce lawyers in Connecticut bill on an hourly rate, the cost is a function of time spent on the case. At Broder & Orland LLC, we have handled divorces ranging in cost from a few thousand to millions of dollars.

Is Cost Related to the Complexity of the Case? 

Not necessarily. Some of the more financially complex cases settle quickly when the parties, their counsel, and experts are sophisticated and are financially savvy. These cases sometimes involve a variety of compensation components, including for example, stock options, RSUs, SARs, phantom stock, and deferred compensation. While this can initially appear daunting, it doesn’t have to be if the parties are well-educated about income variants.

Will the Cost of my Divorce be Minimal if our Assets are Very Modest? 

We would hope so and at our firm we strive to make it cost-effective for our clients in every case. Unfortunately, different pressures can arise when the marital estate is relatively modest and there isn’t enough money for both parties to live their lives post-divorce in the manner they were doing so during their marriage. In these cases particularly, it is imperative to do a cost-benefit analysis and to be real about the results. 

Will Children’s Issues Increase the Cost of Divorce?

Quite possibly. It is in everyone’s best interest to settle on a realistic Parenting Plan as early as possible in the case. If that doesn’t happen, the Court will sometimes appoint a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) as an investigatory arm of the Court whose role it is to report on the best interests of the children, or Attorney for Minor Children (AMC), who will act as an advocate for the children taking into consideration their best interests. The cost of these additional individuals will be borne by the marital estate and having them involved typically signals additional litigation and therefore, higher cost. 

What Other Factors can drive up the Costs of a Divorce? 

Divorce costs may spiral upward for many reasons, for example: one or both parties may not be cooperative in the discovery process or have unrealistic expectations.  Attorneys and clients may not be in sync about objectives and goals. The Court system is fraught with inherent delays and continuances mean more time and more money. 

What can I do to keep my Divorce Costs from Getting out of Control?

  • Hire a reputable and knowledgeable attorney.
  • Make sure you are always on the same page as to how your case is being handled.
  • Settle the kids’ issues as soon as possible. Attend to discovery deadlines.
  • If finances are complex, make sure to assemble a good team of experts who can educate you about the various components. In short, demystify the finances so you can move forward to settlement.
  • Be reasonable in negotiations with your spouse even if there are bad feelings, as is typically the case in divorces.
  • Pay attention to your monthly bills and your retainer status.

At Broder & Orland LLC, with offices in Westport and Greenwich, CT, we strive to make our clients’ divorce cases cost efficient, whether the case involves a modest marital estate or is a high net-worth or high-income earner matter. We constantly counsel our clients on the cost-benefit of decisions as the case progresses. Our goal is to achieve for our clients the best possible outcome at the most reasonable cost.

What is an Educational Support Order?

This Week’s Blog by Nicole M. DiGiose

Does the Court have the Authority to Order a Party to Contribute to a Child’s College Expenses? 

Yes.  Pursuant to General Statutes Section 46b-56c(a), the Court has jurisdiction to enter an order requiring one or both parents to provide support for a child to attend an institution of higher education or a private occupational school for the purpose of attaining a bachelor’s or other undergraduate degree, or other appropriate vocational instruction for a total of four full academic years.  

Are there any Prerequisites for the Court to Enter an Educational Support Order?

Yes.  The Court may not enter an educational support order unless the Court finds, as a matter of fact, that it is more likely than not that the parents would have provided support for a child’s higher education or private occupational school, had the family remained intact.  

What does the Court Consider in Determining Whether to Enter an Educational Support Order?

Pursuant to General Statutes Section 46b-56c(c), in determining whether to enter an educational support order, the Court shall consider all relevant circumstances, including: (1) the parents’ income, assets and other obligations, including obligations to other dependents; (2) the child’s need for support to attend an institution of higher education or private occupational school considering the child’s assets and the child’s ability to earn income; (3) the availability of financial aid from other sources, including grants and loans; (4) the reasonableness of the higher education to be funded considering the child’s academic record and the financial resources available; (5) the child’s preparation for, aptitude for and commitment to higher education; and (6) evidence, if any, of the institution of higher education or private occupational school the child would attend. 

What Expenses Qualify as “Educational Expenses?”

An educational support order may include support for any necessary educational expenses, including room, board, dues, tuition, fees, registration and application costs, books, and medical insurance.  

What is the Maximum Amount of an Educational Support Order?

An educational support order may not exceed the amount charged by the University of Connecticut for a full-time, in-state student at the time the child matriculates.  The “UConn cap” applies to the entire educational support order for both parents.

Could Parties Agree to Alternate Arrangements regarding Educational Support Orders?

Yes.  The “UConn cap” may be exceeded by the parties by agreement.

When can the Court enter an Educational Support Order?

The Court may enter an educational support order at the time of a decree of dissolution, legal separation, or annulment.  The Court may reserve jurisdiction to enter an educational support order at a later date.  This is usually done in cases of young children.  If the Court does not reserve jurisdiction to enter an educational support order at a later date, then no educational support order may be entered thereafter.  If the Court does reserve jurisdiction, a party may petition the Court to enter an educational support order at a later date.  

When do Educational Support Orders Terminate? 

An educational support order must terminate no later than a child’s attaining age twenty-three.

Could an Educational Support Order be entered for a Child’s Graduate School Expenses?

No, the Court does not have jurisdiction to enter an educational support order for a child’s graduate or postgraduate education beyond a bachelor’s degree.  However, parties may agree to be responsible for and share these expenses.

At Broder & Orland LLC we have extensive experience in addressing disputes related to a child’s post-secondary educational support throughout Fairfield County and Connecticut, whether the issue arises incident to a dissolution of marriage action or post-judgment.

Second Opinions in Connecticut Divorce Cases

This Week’s Blog by Carole T. Orland

Is it Appropriate to Get a Second Opinion in my Divorce Case? 

Divorce litigation is difficult. It’s costly both emotionally and financially. It is not uncommon for clients to feel overwhelmed by the process and at times disenchanted with their attorneys. Given that your divorce is one of the most impactful events in your life, you want to get it right. And sometimes, that means getting a second opinion just as you would for example, when it comes to medical care.

What Can I Expect From a Second Opinion? 

Often the second opinion will be confirmatory. If you have wisely chosen your divorce attorney, likely he or she has done everything consistent with your best interests. Eliciting a second opinion from another well respected attorney will make you feel more comfortable that your divorce is on the right path. Sometimes a second opinion with a well qualified attorney will enlighten you as to alternative approaches creative solutions, or issues that require attention.

Should I Discuss Getting a Second Opinion with my Current Divorce Attorney? 

Ideally, if you think a second opinion is warranted, you should discuss it with your current attorney instead of circumventing him or her. Seasoned attorneys have confidence in their abilities but also recognize that there are times when another set of well-trained eyes on your case can be very constructive. There may even be situations where your current divorce attorney will suggest that you get another opinion. You should consider the recommendation that you do so in the best light, not as a signal that your attorney is giving up on you.

What Information Should I Provide to the Second Opinion Attorney? 

When you meet with an attorney for a second opinion you should make sure to provide that attorney in advance with as much information as you can in order for that meeting to be meaningful. This might include, for example: pleadings, Financial Affidavits, Case Management Agreements, any Court rulings, Briefs and Memoranda of Law, Pre-Trial Conference memoranda, reports of experts, appraisals, discovery responses, custody and psychological evaluations, financial documents, settlement offers, and pertinent correspondence.

Schedule enough time with the second opinion attorney to be able to discuss all of the issues. It will also be helpful for you to bring your own written agenda items in order to address all your concerns. Make sure to take notes during the meeting. If you don’t understand something, ask again until you do. Leave the meeting with a clear understanding of all the items you wanted to discuss.

What Should I do After Receiving a Second Opinion?

Make an appointment with your current attorney to review what you have learned. Again, make sure there is enough time to discuss it all. Bring your notes with you. Remember, the point is not to challenge your attorney but to augment what both of you have previously addressed.

In most cases, if you carefully choose your initial attorney and then your second opinion attorney, you will find that you will want to stay with your original choice. While there is added cost to seeking another opinion, it is typically minimal compared to the overall cost of your case and really terrific value in that it will round out your knowledge, set you on a clearer path, and make you feel more comfortable.

If seeking a second opinion causes you to have concerns about continuing with your current attorney, you should discuss that with him or her in a very straightforward manner. Be up front about why you want to change attorneys and request that your attorney cooperate with successor counsel, whether it’s the second opinion attorney you met with or someone else. Do make sure to settle any outstanding bill with your current attorney before moving on. He or she may have a right to retain your file until you do so, but beyond that, it is the right thing to do and will start off your representation with your new attorney on the right foot.

At Broder & Orland LLC we recognize that certain divorce clients may want to seek a second opinion and on occasion we even initiate the suggestion that they do so. In certain cases we also provide second opinions with an appropriate protocol in place.

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.

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.

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.

How Do I Take a Deposition of an Out-of-State Witness in my Connecticut Divorce Case?

This Week’s Blog by Sarah E. Murray

  • A deposition of an out-of-state witness usually requires an Order from the Court
  • Once ordered in Connecticut, further litigation regarding the deposition can occur in the state where the witness lives
  • The deposition of the out-of-state witness will take place in the state where the witness resides, unless otherwise agreed

Can I Take the Deposition of an Out-of-State Witness for Use in My Connecticut Divorce Case?

Clients in Greenwich, Darien, and New Canaan sometimes have reason to want the sworn testimony of a witness who does not live in Connecticut. It is common for Fairfield County divorce clients to have contacts out-of-state, particularly in New York, who may be able to provide sworn testimony related to the divorce case. The reasons for needing the deposition testimony of out-of-state witnesses vary, and can include needing the testimony of an opposing party’s out-of-state employer, or a paramour, in order to obtain relevant information or to bolster one’s case.

If a divorce client and his or her attorney decide that the deposition of an out-of-state witness is needed, the next step is to determine the method by which that witness can be compelled to appear for a deposition in the case. Pursuant to the Connecticut rules, unless a witness agrees to appear at a deposition, that person can only be compelled to sit for a deposition if he or she is served with a valid subpoena.  If the client knows that the out-of-state witness is going to be in Connecticut on a particular day, it may be possible to arrange to have that person served in Connecticut with a subpoena for a deposition. If the witness is served with a subpoena while in Connecticut, then he or she is compelled to appear for a deposition within the county in Connecticut in which he or she is served.

If the witness is not able to be served with a subpoena in Connecticut, then the appropriate procedure is for an Application for Commission to take the deposition of an out-of-state resident to be filed in the Connecticut Court. The Application for Commission is a motion requesting an Order from the Connecticut Court that gives the party permission to depose the out-of-state witness in the state where that witness resides. Top Fairfield County attorneys will consult with an attorney in the state in which the witness resides prior to filing the Application for Commission in order to ensure that the Connecticut Order authorizing the deposition complies with the laws and procedures of the state in which the deposition is to take place.

Once filed, if the opposing party does not agree that the Application for Commission be granted as a matter of course, a judge in Connecticut will decide whether or not to grant it in accordance with Connecticut’s discovery rules. Assuming that it does get granted in Connecticut, the process does not end there. The witness must then be served with a subpoena in accordance with the laws and procedures of the state in which he or she is to be served, i.e., his or her state of residence. Some states allow a subpoena to be served on the witness, while others require that the subpoena (and sometimes an accompanying motion) be filed in that state’s court prior to being served. It is critical to follow the law of the state in which the witness is to be served so that the witness cannot claim he or she was served improperly.

What Happens Once the Witness is Served?

Once the witness is properly served, that witness can challenge the subpoena in the courts of the state in which he or she is served. At Broder & Orland LLC, we find it important to have local counsel involved when serving an out-of-state witness in order to assist with any litigation that may occur in that state. Local counsel can also assist in the event that the witness fails to appear for the deposition and a motion to compel his or her attendance is needed.

After the subpoena is issued and any litigation initiated by the third party witness is complete, the deposition can occur. In some circumstances, counsel may agree to have the deposition take place in Connecticut to save the time and expense of the parties and counsel traveling to the other state for the deposition. If there is no agreement for that to occur, then the deposition must take place out-of-state. That deposition testimony can then be used as part of the Connecticut divorce proceedings. Under Connecticut Practice Book rules, the deposition testimony can also be used in some circumstances in lieu of that witness’ testimony at trial.

At Broder & Orland LLC, we have experience in arguing for (and sometimes against) Applications for Commission to take the depositions of out-of-state witnesses, and we understand the strategic considerations that clients should take into account in deciding when and how to pursue the deposition of an out-of-state witness.