Louden, Katz & McGrath has deep experience with matters related to family law and the creation and termination of family relationships. Below, we’ve answered some common questions surrounding these issues.
If I am separated from my spouse, does that mean that I am “legally separated?”
No. While spouses may be “separated” and a “legal” proceeding (dissolution of marriage) pending, spouses are not “legally separated.” There is a separate suit called a suit for legal separation, which requires all of the steps in a dissolution of marriage proceeding, but, at the end of the case, the parties are legally separated and thus their marriage is not dissolved. Almost invariably, however, a decree of legal separation ultimately results in a decree of dissolution.
Do you charge for an initial consultation?
Yes. Over the years we have found that we provide substantial, valuable information, including a preliminary assessment of a case, in an initial consultation. We thus charge on a time basis.
If I move out of my home, will I be deemed to have abandoned the home, my spouse or my children?
No. There is no legal concept in dissolution cases called “abandonment.” However, if there are minor children in the family residence, the spouse who moves out implicitly sends the message that the spouse who remains in the home is better able to care for the children.
What is meant by “no-fault divorce?”
It means that a spouse does not have to prove that the other spouse was “at fault” in the breakdown of the marriage. Under the law prior to 1974, a spouse had to prove that the other spouse had committed adultery or treated the other spouse with intolerable cruelty in order to get a divorce. Fault, especially if egregious, still can enter into consideration of child custody and parenting, alimony and the division of assets. It normally is not a major factor, however.
How long do I have to live in Connecticut before starting a divorce case?
Anyone who has been a resident of Connecticut for at least a year can start a case. A person could file a divorce case one day after moving to Connecticut, but would have to live in Connecticut for one year before finalizing the case, with limited exceptions.
Does it make a difference if I am the plaintiff, the party bringing suit, or the defendant, the responding party?
No, as a practical matter. If a case ends up in a trial, though, it generally is preferable to be the plaintiff, because the plaintiff starts the case, can decide what witnesses to call (including the opposing spouse), and generally orchestrates a trial. The practical fact is that only some five percent of cases in Connecticut end up in a trial.
What is the difference between “divorce” and “dissolution of marriage?”
None. “Divorce” has had a negative flavor to it, and effectively a marriage between two people is dissolved. Connecticut statutes do not use the word “divorce” at any point. Because divorce is the term still most commonly used, we use divorce interchangeably with dissolution of marriage.
What is meant by “joint custody?”
It means that both parents have equal rights on decision-making for their child(ren), especially in the areas of education, religious upbringing and major health considerations.
What are the primary criteria in choosing a lawyer for my divorce case?
You should thoroughly check out any lawyer with whom you make contact, using such resources as the Internet, websites, lawyer directories (the latter on the Internet and in libraries), and other lawyers. All lawyers have been rated, in one rating system or another.
Can I remove my spouse as the beneficiary on life insurance during a divorce case?
No. That would violate the court rules governing divorce cases.
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