Legal Articles, Divorce & Family Law

Non-Monetary Contributions and the Equitable Distribution of Property

In matters of marital dissolution, the manner in which property will be divided may appear rather complicated, but the courts have ample statutory guidance from General Statutes § 46b-81. One factor that a court must consider is the “contribution of each of the parties in the acquisition, preservation or appreciation in the value of their respective estates.” What, exactly, constitutes a contribution? Must the contributions only be monetary, such as income, or can they be non-monetary as well?

Trial Court Transforms Time Limited Alimony Award into Lifetime Alimony

A decision rendered in a post judgment divorce action highlights the importance of using clear and unambiguous language when drafting alimony and support provisions meant to preclude modifiability.  In that particular case, the husband was obligated to pay to the wife periodic alimony in the amount of $1,500 per week until the death of either party, the wife’s remarriage or cohabitation, or her sixtieth birthday, whichever first occurred.  Significantly, the wife was also awarded a one-half interest in the marital portion of the husband’s profit-sharing plan which had a value of approximately $1,000,000, although the parties later agreed to reduce her share by just over $500,000.

In DCF Proceeding, Court Considers Mother’s Mental Health Issues

In a decision involving a DCF proceeding, a Connecticut trial court relied primarily on a mother’s mental health issues in terminating her parental rights.  DCF initially became involved in the matter upon reports that the mother was using marijuana while caring for the child, and was providing inadequate supervision.  After violating the terms of a Safety Plan, the child was removed from the home pursuant to an Order of Temporary Custody.

Court Rules that Father’s Periodic Contact with Children was Insufficient to Refute Claim of Abandonment

In a DCP proceeding involving a claim of abandonment, a Court (Wollenberg, J.) found that a father legally abandoned his children despite the fact that he continued to have periodic contact with them.  DCF initially became involved in the case after filing a Motion for Order of Temporary Custody and a Petition of Neglect.  The Court subsequently sustained the OTC, and the children were committed to the care and custody of the Department.  The mother consented to termination of her parental rights; however, the father objected.  With respect to the father, DCF alleged that he both abandoned the children and failed to rehabilitate.

DCF May Rely on the Concept of “Predictive Neglect” to Obtain an Order of Temporary Custody

Clients often assume that in order for DCF to become involved in their life, a situation must arise warranting the Department’s intervention.  Though this is often the case, DCF may also rely on the concept of “predictive neglect,” allowing it to intervene to prevent future harm.

Allegations of Abuse Result in Immediate Termination of Father’s Visitation

In a case involving the the termination of visitation, allegations that a father physically abused his child resulted in the immediate termination of his right to visitation.  The mother initially reported the alleged abuse in October, 2010.  DCF conducted an immediate investigation, including a forensic examination of the child, which confirmed the report.  Despite the father’s claims that the child was coached during her interview, the Court nevertheless terminated his access with the child per DCF’s recommendation.  The Department later substantiated the allegations of abuse.

Court May Intervene to Protect Children from Warring Parents

A decision illustrates the extent to which a court will consider the relationship between a child’s parents when making determinations related to custody and visitation. This decision will involving court intervention will impact custody and visitation. In this particular case, the parties were married for approximately three years and were the parents of one minor child.  Although they were able to obtain a divorce on an uncontested basis, the parties’ relationship eventually deteriorated, resulting in a ten year period of post judgment litigation related to custody and visitation issues.

Courts Afford DCF Great Deference on Appeal

A decision rendered in a case involving the Department of Children and Families (DCF) demonstrates the extent to which courts defer to the agency’s conclusions when reviewing a matter on appeal. In this particular case, the plaintiffs were the maternal aunt and uncle of two children, ages fourteen and sixteen.  After receiving reports that the children were being physically and emotionally neglected, the Department conducted an investigation, ultimately substantiating the allegations as to both children.  When the plaintiffs learned they were going to be placed on the Central Registry, they requested an administrative hearing.

Despite Father’s Unemployment, Court Awards Support Based on Earning Capacity

A Connecticut Superior Court again applied the principle of utilizing a party’s “earning capacity” – rather than actual earnings – to the modification of a support award in post-judgment matrimonial action. In this case the court awards support due to earning capacity. Earning capacity is not an amount that a person can “theoretically earn,” nor is it confined to actual income, but rather it is an amount which an individual “can realistically be expected to earn, considering his skills, age and health.” Weinstein v. Weinstein, 104 Conn.App. 482, 489, 934 A.2d 306 (2007), Elia v. Elia, 99 Conn. App. 829, 833, 916 A.2d 845 (2007).

Court Awards Wife Alimony in the Amount of $6,000 Per Month

In Klages v. Klages, a case involving alimony, Superior Court, Judicial District of Fairfield at Bridgeport, Docket No. FV104034594S, the plaintiff wife and defendant husband were married in Pennsylvania on October 9, 1993.  At the time of trial, they had four children ranging in age from six to eleven.

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