If you are coping with Connecticut divorce or a paternity matter, or require a modification to resolve critical problems that have arisen afterward, it is essential to work with a Connecticut divorce lawyer who inspires your confidence and trust. Jackson O'Keefe understands what you are going through and understands the life-changing dynamics of families going through divorce. In divorces, and other family law matters, we understand how important it is to protect your rights and interests, and those of your children as well. In some situations, this may call for a more pragmatic approach designed to achieve desired solutions with a minimum of expense, delay and damage. In others, aggressively protecting your rights and taking your custody or alimony dispute to trial may be called for. In either case, we will not lose sight of satisfying your long-term goals.
Jackson O'Keefe represents and counsels individuals relative to Connecticut prenuptial agreements, separation, Connecticut divorce and child custody issues. The attorneys in our family law section have been recognized by the Connecticut courts for their expertise and have acted as Special Master's assisting other attorneys and individuals to resolve Connecticut divorce and child custody claims. Our wide experience in real estate and estate planning enables us to counsel our family law clients relative to a wide variety of legal issues. Jackson O'Keefe attorneys are dedicated to the practice of family law including divorce, legal separation, property division, custody, child and spousal support, paternity, litigation, pretrial litigation, mediation, pre-marriage issues, and post-divorce issues. Attorneys in our firm are adept at analyzing complicated financial situations, particularly complex business valuation issues.
Sometimes a Connecticut divorce does not require an actual trial, or contested hearing. You and your spouse can get a divorce without going through stressful, time-consuming and costly litigation. In an uncontested divorce, you can work together to negotiate the terms of your divorce and create a marriage settlement agreement out of court. In fact, people who do this are more likely to follow the terms of the agreement. Even in an uncontested divorce, there are important steps to take to protect your rights. At our law firm, we will take the time to get to know your needs. We will make certain that you do not enter into a marital settlement agreement unless it protects your rights. In an uncontested forum, an experienced Connecticut divorce attorney can anticipate what a judge may find acceptable and can assist you in devising an appropriate divorce settlement agreement. Your divorce mediation or settlement conference will be most effective when working with a Connecticut divorce attorney who has extensive divorce mediation, negotiation, and settlement experience. The attorneys in our family law section have been recognized by the Connecticut courts for their expertise and have acted as Special Master's assisting other attorneys and individuals to resolve divorce and child custody claims.
If a trial is necessary, there are several issues that may need to be decided by the Court. Under Connecticut divorce law, a marriage or civil union may be dissolved "upon a finding that one of the following causes has occurred: (1) the marriage has broken down irretrievably; (2) the parties have lived apart by reason of incompatibility for a continuous period of at least the eighteen months immediately prior to the service of the complaint and that there is no reasonable prospect that they will be reconciled; (3) adultery; (4) fraudulent contract; (5) wilful desertion for one year with total neglect of duty; (6) seven years' absence, during all of which period the absent party has not been heard from; (7) habitual intemperance; (8) intolerable cruelty; (9) sentence to imprisonment for life or the commission of any infamous crime involving a violation of conjugal duty and punishable by imprisonment for a period in excess of one year; (10) legal confinement in a hospital or hospitals or other similar institution or institutions, because of mental illness, for at least an accumulated period totaling five years within the period of six years next preceding the date of the complaint."
Since 1973, the first ground and second grounds listed above have been available in Connecticut, known as so-called no-fault divorce.
Another issue the Court may be called upon to resolve in a Connecticut divorce action is that of alimony. Under Connecticut divorce law, an award of alimony is based primarily on a spouse's continuing duty to support. Alimony may involve a lump sum, periodic payments, a transfer of assets and/or other forms of payments or transfers. The primary distinction between an alimony award and a property distribution is the purpose for which the award was made. Alimony, whether periodic or lump sum is based primarily upon a continuing duty to support arising out of the obligation of support which the spouses assume toward each other as a result of the marriage.
Connecticut General Statutes § 46b-82 governs the award of alimony and specifically states it may be in addition to a property distribution award. In awarding alimony in Connecticut divorce actions, Connecticut General Statutes § 46b-82 directs that the courts shall consider the length of the marriage, the causes for the annulment, dissolution of the marriage or legal separation, the age, health, station, occupation, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate and needs of each of the parties and the award, if any, which the court may make pursuant to section 46b-81, and, in the case of a parent to whom the custody of minor children has been awarded, the desirability of such parent's securing employment. Under Connecticut law, alimony "pendente lite" means alimony or maintenance "pending litigation" and is payable during the pendency of a Connecticut divorce proceeding so as to enable a dependent spouse to proceed with or defend against the action.
Another issue to be addressed in a contested or uncontested Connecticut divorce is the distribution of the marital assets. At the time of entering a decree annulling or dissolving a marriage or for legal separation the Superior Court is authorized to assign to either the husband or the wife "all or any part of the estate of the other." Unlike the provisions in effect in many other states, the Connecticut statute does not contain any distinctions or limitations based upon title or form of ownership. This approach to property division is commonly referred to as an all-property equitable distribution scheme, meaning that all the property of either party is subject to division. The statute further lists the factors which the court is required to consider "in fixing the nature and value of the property if any, to be assigned"; these are: "the length of the marriage, the causes for the annulment, dissolution of the marriage or legal separation, the age, health, station, occupation, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate, liabilities and needs of each of the parties and the opportunity of each for future acquisition of capital assets and income. The court shall also consider the contribution of each of the parties in the acquisition, preservation or appreciation in value of their respective estates." The factors set forth in Connecticut General Statutes § 46b-81 which must be considered in assigning property are not viewed as all-inclusive. The trial court may consider factors not contained within the statute if they are relevant to an equitable disposition of the property.
Part of our representation can include searching for hidden financial assets. Uncovering hidden assets that may have been transferred in hopes of shielding them from asset valuation and property division can have a major impact in a Connecticut divorce action.
In addition to property distributions and alimony awards, if applicable a Connecticut divorce decree typically also includes orders with regard to child custody and visitation, as well as child support orders. Jackson O'Keefe can counsel you as to what steps to take so that your parent-child relationship is preserved. We have extensive experience resolving child custody and child visitation arrangements. Jackson O'Keefe reviews the financial documents to ensure that the Connecticut child support guidelines are correctly applied, so that you are not short changed.