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FAQ

Some Frequently Asked Questions.

Does it matter whether I file first or my spouse files first?

Generally speaking, it will not matter who files first.  Prior to 1974, parties had to prove who was at fault for the breakdown of the marriage in order to obtain a divorce.  Accordingly, it mattered back then.  Now, Connecticut is a no-fault state, meaning you do not need to prove fault to obtain a divorce.  As such, there is really no legal effect of being either the plaintiff or the defendant.  That being said, some clients have a preference (“I want to be defendant because I do not want this divorce” or “I want to be plaintiff so the Court knows I am seeking the divorce because of what he or she has done).

Do you charge an initial consultation fee?

Yes.  We set aside a minimum of one hour for your consultation in which we obtain from you a general understanding of the background of your situation and then provide you with an initial assessment of your case and potential likely outcomes.  We educate you on the law and how it will most likely be applied to your case.  Clients have told us what a valuable resource this is for them and as such we charge a flat fee for the consultation.

Can I change my beneficiaries on my retirement or life insurance plans or drop my spouse from my health insurance plan?

Prior to the commencement of the divorce action, you may do whatever you feel is best.  However, once a divorce complaint has been signed on your behalf or has been served on you, certain automatic orders go into place.  Pursuant to those automatic orders, neither party may make such a change without the prior, written agreement of the other or a court order.

How do I protect my assets if my spouse and I separate?

Prior to the commencement of any court action, you should monitor your account statements to make certain no assets are removed or no unmanageable debts are incurred.  You could also take steps to make certain that your assets and credit cards are in your name only.  However, once a divorce action has commenced, certain automatic orders go into effect.  Pursuant to those orders, neither party may sell, transfer, hide, conceal or remove any assets, whether in his or her name or joint names without the prior, written agreement of both parties or a court order.  Likewise, neither party may incur unreasonable debts.

What is joint custody?

Joint legal custody means that both parties are to communicate and make all major decisions for the minor child together.  Joint physical custody means that the parties are to share parenting time roughly equally.  You must keep in mind the distinction between legal custody and physical custody as you try to negotiate and resolve any custodial dispute.

What am I entitled to?

You are entitled to an equitable share of the marital estate.  Connecticut is an equitable distribution state.  This means that the court considers the length of the marriage, the causes of the breakdown of the marriage, the age, health, station, occupation, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate, liabilities and needs of each party as well as the opportunity of each for future acquisition of capital assets and income.  Based upon these factors, the Court is to enter a divorce judgment that it deems to be fair and equitable.

Am I legally separated if I no longer live with my spouse?

No.  You and your spouse are considered legally married until a court enters a judgment of legal separation or divorce.  Simply living apart does not make you separated in the legal sense of the term.

If we have children and we are going through a divorce, should I move out?

The answer to that question depends very much on the facts of your situation.  Generally speaking, there is no legal concept of “abandonment” if you should choose to move out.  On the other hand, moving out may send a clear message that the parent remaining with the children is the parent better suited for having custody of them.  Before you make a decision on this question, you should consult with an attorney.

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