Tag: new canaan

Imputing Income for Child Support Purposes

This Week’s Blog by Andy M. Eliot

How is Child Support Generally Determined in Connecticut?

In Connecticut, the amount of a non-custodial parent’s child support obligation to a custodial parent is directly tied to the respective incomes of both parents. Pursuant to the Connecticut Child Support Guidelines, parents’ respective incomes are plugged into a mathematical formula which yields a presumptively correct weekly child support obligation that one parent must pay to the other.

What Does Voluntary “Underemployment” Mean?

Voluntary underemployment occurs when a parent (whether it be the child support obligor or the parent receiving child support) voluntarily earns less income then he or she is capable of earning based upon his or her education, training and past earnings.  Consider, for example, a scenario in which a child support obligor voluntarily leaves a high-paying job on Wall Street shortly before a child support award will issue to pursue a far less lucrative career as a musician; this would be an example of “voluntary underemployment.”

Do Courts Have Any Means to Redress Voluntary Underemployment in Issuing Child Support Awards?

Yes.  In such circumstances, courts have the discretion to attribute or “impute” income to a parent (whether it be the parent paying child support, the parent receiving child support, or both) for purposes of determining child support obligations.  In other words, when plugging a parent’s income into the mathematical child support formula set forth in the Connecticut Child Support Guidelines, courts may utilize an income figure that reflects the amount of income that a parent could potentially be earning (commonly referred to as “earning capacity”), rather than the amount the parent is actually earning at the time.

How do Courts Determine what Amount of Income to Impute to a Party?

In determining a party’s earning capacity for purposes of imputing income to that party, there is not a precise methodology that Courts employ.  Rather, in any given case, the determining Court will examine the unique set of facts in that particular matter in order to make a determination.  However, factors that Courts typically would consider in this context would include the relevant party’s historical earnings, employment history, vocational skills, employability, age and health.

Are Experts Ever Used to Determine Earning Capacity?

Yes.  In cases where earning capacity is an issue, it is common for either or both parties to hire vocational experts for the purpose of proving (or disproving) the other parent’s earning capacity. A vocational expert will generally testify about what a person with similar experience and expertise should make.

Cases involving earning capacity claims are complex and, in order to be handled properly, require a great deal of attention and expertise.  At Broder & Orland LLC, we have extensive experience handling matters where earning capacity is at issue and have a well-established track record of achieving favorable results for our clients in such matters.

How Do I Stop or Slow Down My Divorce?

This Week’s Blog by Jaime S. Dursht

There are instances where one spouse decides to file for divorce while the other spouse strongly desires to salvage the marriage. Sometimes the legal process is well under way when one or both parties suddenly decide to explore the possibility of reconciliation. Divorce clients throughout Fairfield County in towns from Greenwich to New Canaan to Weston find themselves in these situations, and are surprised to learn that the law provides a way for divorcing spouses to stop the process without losing the benefit of what they have already invested time and money in.

  • Gen. Stat. § 46b-53 allows a party to request conciliation within the first ninety days of the commencement of an action, which is automatically granted.
  • Gen. Stat. § 46b-10 allows a party to initiate conciliation at any time during the pendency of a case which is permitted with the approval of the Court.
  • The Automatic Orders that go into effect at the commencement of an action pursuant to Practice Book § 25-5 are not affected by the reconciliation period and remain in place.

In the first instance, the process involves the submission of a request to the clerk within the first ninety days following the filing of a complaint.  The clerk “shall forthwith enter an order to meet a conciliator. …” C.G.S. 46b-53(1). The conciliator may be a mutually agreed upon clergyman, physician, domestic relations officer or marriage counselor, and all communications during the consultations are absolutely privileged. C.G.S. 46b-53(c). Within the ninety day period or within 30 days of the request, whichever is later, the parties must attend two mandatory consultations with the conciliator.  The purpose is to determine the possibility of reconciliation or “of resolving the emotional problems which might lead to continuing conflicts following the dissolution of the marriage.” C.G.S. § 46b-53(b). Failure of either party to attend the consultations, except for good cause, results in no further action being taken on the complaint for six months following the return date. Id.

The second situation involves the filing of a motion at any time prior to judgment but requires the Court’s permission to halt the process for the purpose of attempting reconciliation.  The legal effect of reconciliation status is a stay of the proceedings, discovery deadlines and other mandatory Court obligations without prejudice, and either party may move to have the case restored to the docket.

The Automatic Orders that are issued to both parties upon the signing and service of the complaint pursuant to Practice Book §25-5 “remain in place during the pendency of the action unless terminated, modified, or amended by further order of the Court upon motion of either of the parties” and are therefore not disturbed by the reconciliation process.

Of course, it is always possible to end a case altogether by filing a withdrawal of the action.  Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-80 provides that a party may withdraw an action as of right after the commencement of an action but prior to the commencement of a hearing on the merits.

The attorneys at Broder & Orland LLC are extremely knowledgeable in both the substantive family law and the applicable procedural rules to customize the legal approach that best serves an individual client’s needs, and which, occasionally, results in no divorce at all.

Substance Abuse and Parenting During a Divorce

Substance abuse can create issues for many families and can play a significant role in a large number of divorce cases, especially those where there are minor children. At Broder & Orland LLC we have experience in handling divorce cases involving this issue throughout the towns of Greenwich, Stamford, Darien, New Canaan, and Westport. A divorce can be challenging enough on its own, but when one or both parties struggle with substance abuse, it creates added complications and can make the process seem insurmountable to the children and parties involved. Substance abuse in one form another can cripple a couple and devastate a family. It is also common for persons suffering from substance abuse to physically or mentally abuse their spouse and/or children. At Broder & Orland LLC we offer the experience and resources to understand and work through the specific issues of each case, including substance abuse.

Navigating a divorce with children when one or both parties have a substance abuse problem often requires a delicate approach. For example, one party may be fearful that his or her alcoholic spouse will drink and become intoxicated during parenting time with the children, or even worse, get behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated with the children. On the other hand, a spouse who is a recovering addict may worry that parenting time will be limited due to his or her past issues and behaviors.

Due to competing interests, it can be difficult for parties to agree on a Parenting Plan that each party believes is in the child’s best interest. The parties, their attorneys, and the Court must balance the competing interests all while making sure that any decision made or order entered into is in the best interest of the children.

There are multiple ways to ensure a child’s safety and properly deal with parenting issues in a dissolution action where one party has substance abuse issues.  One of the first steps that can be taken is to involve neutral third-party professionals, such as a Guardian Ad Litem. A Guardian Ad Litem is appointed by the court and is tasked with determining what is in the child’s best interest. A Guardian Ad Litem is also often able to speak to a party’s therapist or treatment provider to better understand a party’s mental and physical state and the impact it may have on the child.

A second way of ensuring the safety of all parties is to file a Motion with the Court asking that a party be randomly tested for drugs and/or alcohol. For alcoholics, this often means providing the party with a device that will randomly require him or her to participate in a breathalyzer test. The results of the test are then immediately sent to the test administrator. The usual protocol is then for attorneys to be notified if and when the party fails or misses a test. After a failed test it may be agreed to that all further parenting time is suspended or that the parent who failed a test may only exercise parenting time under supervision by another person.

A third option is to file a Motion for Supervised Visitation. This Motion asks the Court for an Order whereby all parenting time must take place in the presence of a third party. The third party may be Court appointed or may be someone mutually agreed upon by the parties. The goal is of course to protect the children and allow the parent to demonstrate their ability to parent appropriately.

In the Connecticut judicial system it is easy for families suffering from substance abuse to feel overwhelmed and helpless. At Broder & Orland LLC we have the ability to guide you through the process and ensure your safety and your children’s safety.

IN WHICH COURTHOUSE DO I FILE MY DIVORCE CASE AND WHO WILL BE THE JUDGE IF MY CASE GOES TO TRIAL?

Where do I file for divorce?

The Connecticut Statutes have specific provisions that govern which courthouse you are to file for divorce. It is dependent upon where either the Plaintiff or the Defendant resides. Specifically, in Fairfield County:

a.) If either party resides in the town of Darien, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford, Weston, Westport, or Wilton, the divorce action can be filed in the Stamford courthouse.

b.) If either party resides in towns such as Fairfield, Easton, Trumbull, Shelton, Bridgeport, or Monroe, the divorce action shall be filed in the Bridgeport courthouse.

If the parties have already separated and, for example, the Husband lives in Greenwich and the Wife lives in Fairfield, wherever the action is first filed is the courthouse that will handle the case.

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PREPARING FOR DIVORCE

For most people, deciding to get divorced is not a snap decision. It often comes after many years of pain and turmoil in a marriage. Therefore, there should be sufficient time to prepare for divorce as it is critical to ensuring that the process goes as efficiently as possible.

Experienced divorce attorneys in Westport, Greenwich, Darien, New Canaan and Stamford, often are asked by a potential client in an initial meeting, “What should I be doing before filing for divorce to make sure the process goes as smoothly as possible?” The answer is multifaceted and often depends on the particular facts of the case but below are certain general steps that each divorce litigant should address prior to an action commencing:

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CHILD SUPPORT PART II: THE CONNECTICUT CHILD SUPPORT GUIDELINES

As discussed in Part I of this series, child support is the obligation that a parent has to contribute to the financial costs of raising their child. Child support must be determined in the following actions in which the parties have minor children: dissolution of marriage, annulment of marriage, legal separation, or child custody proceedings. A court is required to consider a multitude of factors as listed in Connecticut General Statutes Section 46b-84(a). In addition to these factors, Connecticut has adopted the Child Support Guidelines, which must also be considered by a court.

Divorce attorneys in Greenwich, Stamford, Darien, New Canaan and Westport, are familiar with both the statutory criteria and the Child Support Guidelines, and at Broder and Orland, LLC, our attorneys are skilled at understanding and applying the law and the nuances of determining child support.

At their most basic level the Child Support Guidelines are a mathematical formula based off of the Income Shares Model. The Income Shares Model takes into account the incomes of both parents and presumes that a child in a divorcing family should receive the same portion of parental income that he/she would have received if the parents had continued living together. The Child Support Guidelines use the Income Shares Model to determine an appropriate amount of the parents’ combined income that should be designated as child support.

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LEGAL SEPARATION V. DIVORCE

Often clients come into our office asking about the difference between obtaining a legal separation and obtaining a dissolution of marriage, the term used in Connecticut for a divorce. The common misconception is that a legal separation can be obtained more quickly, efficiently, and inexpensively than a divorce. The only significant difference between a legal separation and a divorce is that parties to a legal separation are not permitted to get remarried, but the parties pursuing a legal separation have to go through the same process as they would if they were pursuing a divorce, including the time and fees required to accomplish same.

There are two common reasons that top divorce attorneys in Greenwich, Westport, Stamford, Darien, and New Canaan encounter for clients seeking a legal separation over a dissolution of marriage. The first most common reason is that the parties may be unwilling to seek a dissolution of marriage for religious reasons, but may be unwilling to continue to live together or rely upon an informal agreement for living apart.

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