Fairfield County Family Law Attorney
Brickley Law is committed to providing Connecticut residents with experienced representation within all family-related legal categories. Our family law practice areas include:
We also understand that legal disputes involving family can present especially difficult challenges. That’s why Brickley Law offers personalized, supportive and attentive legal services. We’re committed to providing you with clear and open communication while working to achieve the best possible outcome for you and your loved ones.
Understanding Connecticut Family Law
Few things are as important in life as family. Yet not every family situation is healthy; some situations require legal intervention to ensure that the best interests of everyone involved are protected.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the most important categories within family law, and how Connecticut state statutes apply.
Even the most well-intentioned couple can grow apart over time. Divorce, however, doesn’t have to descend into bitterness and recrimination. By working with experienced family law attorneys, divorcing couples can work toward an amicable resolution.
Connecticut is a “no fault” divorce state. This means that the spouse who files for divorce doesn’t have to assert or prove any fault on the part of the other spouse. Common grounds for no-fault divorce include “irreconcilable differences” or “irreparable breakdown of a marriage.”
It should be noted that “no fault” doesn’t mean that spousal behavior is irrelevant to the case. Spousal behavior may be a consideration in terms of establishing division of the marital assets.
Determining custody arrangements for children is one of the most important — and often most bitterly contested — parts of a divorce proceeding. Decisions about child custody need to be made with great care and consideration, given the stakes involved.
In Connecticut, judges are required to consider the best interests of the child when making determinations about custody. Among the factors that may influence this decision are:
- The needs of children
- The relationship between parents and children
- Any history of abuse or neglect
- The child’s wishes
- Parental wishes
In general, state courts prefer to work toward Joint custody — where both parents have roughly equal living arrangements and share decision-making power.
Joint custody, however, may not always be in the best interests of children. One example: If one parent lives two hours from the child’s school, joint custody may create a significant schedule disruption for the child, leading a judge to award something other than 50/50 physical custody.
Parents may also choose to work out their own custody arrangement, then submit that agreement to the court for approval.
Because divorces often lead to significant changes in financial situations, it’s essential to have a system in place to protect the best interests of children. In Connecticut, guidelines are in place to help ensure that children receive the level of support they need.
Connecticut courts follow a model that estimates how much money parents would spend on their children within an intact household, then divides this figure according to the income earned by each parent.
Child support judgments are also affected by the amount of time that children spend in the custody of each parent (parents who spend less time with their children would typically pay more in support). Judges can also deviate from child support calculation guidelines if special circumstances exist (a child has special educational needs, for example).
In Connecticut, child support obligations typically extend until a child who has finished high school turns 18, or a high school student turns 19. Payments may be extended up to the age of 23, however, should a child attend college or a similar post-secondary educational institution.
Consider this scenario: Two people marry; one decides to work full-time and the other focuses on medical school. Flash forward a few years, and the medical student is a well-compensated physician, while the other partner now earns far less. When they decide to divorce, the partner who makes less money now faces a significant decline in living standards –despite working to support the other partner during medical school.
This is the type of scenario that alimony is designed to address. In Connecticut, a judge may order temporary alimony during a divorce proceeding, or temporary or permanent alimony after a proceeding.
Permanent alimony is generally reserved for spouses who are less likely to find adequate employment as the result of age or health problems. In most other cases, a judge will award alimony for a period deemed long enough for a spouse to pursue education, job training or a more highly-compensated position.
When determining alimony, Connecticut judges consider a range of factors. These include:
- Length of marriage
- Occupation and income
- Child support
- The age, health and station in life of each spouse
Judges may also consider the reason for the termination of the marriage when making an alimony determination.
Nobody enters marriage assuming it will fail. Yet the numbers don’t lie: About half of all marriages end in divorce. This means that it’s important to protect yourself — and your assets — before moving ahead.
Pre-Marital agreements are designed to do exactly that. These agreements stipulate how assets and income will be divided following the dissolution of a marriage. They also often address how each spouses estate would be distributed upon death. Some couples even address day to day finances, such as who will be responsible for mortgage payments and other household expenses.
The Connecticut Premarital Agreement Act provides the legal framework by which such agreements are handled within the state. The act offers guidance for couples seeking to create premarital agreements, while also establishing criteria state courts must apply when determining the validity of such agreements.
It should be noted that similar agreements can also be reached following a marriage (post-nuptial agreements).
Family Law Facts:
Connecticut ranks 37th nationally in divorce rate
10.6-percent of Connecticut residents are divorced
40 to 50-percent of U.S. couples divorce, according to the American Psychological Association
Despite this, only five-percent of U.S. couples have a pre-marital agreement, according to Harvard Law School
Finding the Right Family Law Attorney
Family law disputes can be traumatic, so it’s important to find an experienced legal advocate who also handles these matters with sensitivity and care. If you’re a Connecticut resident in need of a family law attorney, we urge you to contact Brickley Law today for a free consultation.
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