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Common Questions About Divorce


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The following information is not legal advice. It is for educational and informational purposes only. If you need legal advice, please consult an attorney from Marquette, Piscatelli, & Sheehan.

How is Alimony determined?
Connecticut courts are guided by a set of statutory factors in determining an alimony award. These factors include the length of the marriage, the causes for dissolution, the age, health, station, occupation, amount and sources of income, vocation skills, employability, estate, needs of each of the parties, and the desirability of the custodial parent securing employment. An alimony award is subjective in the sense that Judges do not have to weigh these factors equally, and will often be persuaded by the evidence and testimony concerning one factor over another. It is crucial to have an experienced family attorney evaluate your unique situation and determine where the emphasis should be placed in relation to the statutory factors.

How are my children’s college expenses going to be paid after divorce?
Upon divorce, parties can elect to be governed by the post-secondary education statute in Connecticut which subjects them to the future jurisdiction of the Superior Court in relation to college expenses. At the time your child enrolls in college, either divorced party can petition the court to enter a specific order as to how college expenses are divided. Monetary orders may include tuition, room and board, and registration fees. Parties are often advised to set up various college savings plans at the time of divorce in order to avoid future conflict. Parties often overlook or misinterpret this important statute. Hearings on this issue after divorce can be complex and involve a variety of factors concerning your financial portfolio as well as the finances of your ex-spouse. It is crucial to speak with a dedicated family law attorney to discuss the college savings options for you and your child.

What happens to my home upon divorce?
Although parties have a myriad of legal options concerning their home upon divorce, we typically see two scenarios present themselves. One, the home is sold within a designated time period at an agreed upon price and the parties equally split any remaining equity after usual and necessary closing costs have been paid. Or two, the party who can afford to stay in the home refinances the property and buys the other party out of his/her half of the equity upon receiving a quit claim deed and becomes solely responsible for the mortgage and all expenses. Walking away from a marital home can be one of the most emotional aspects of the divorce process so it is important to seek compassionate representation to guide you through the steps.

What happens to my retirement accounts upon divorce?
Pensions, IRA’s, 401k’s, annuities, and the like are divided at divorce pursuant to Qualified Domestic Relations Order. This order entitles a divorced spouse to receive an interest in a specified portion of the other spouse’s retirement accounts. Parties are confronted with various legal options when electing to divide retirement accounts. At trial, your retirement accounts will be subjected to the discretion of the court and you will need an aggressive lawyer to develop a strategy and defend your assets. Speak with a New Haven divorce attorney today regarding which strategy will make the most financial sense for your specific situation.

How can the court help me resolve my custody/visitation dispute?
Depending on the facts and circumstances surrounding your case, it may be advisable to petition the court to conduct a family relations study through the court, appoint a Guardian ad Litem to represent your child, or recommend co-parenting classes with an outside professional. Not all of these options will suit your particular needs. It is important to speak with your divorce attorney about which course of action will achieve the best result for you and your family.

What happens to my Italian leather sofa and that brand new television we just bought?
Personal property issues are rarely contested at the time of divorce. Typically, parties will divide everything in the marital home equally by exchanging desired lists of property with one another and negotiating from that starting point. Should there be significant items of disagreement, such as expensive jewelry or furniture, then courts will generally order that the parties submit to binding arbitration. Personal property can often be an effective strategy for negotiating the remainder of the contested issues.

What happens throughout the duration of the divorce?
Connecticut courts impose a statutory 90 day waiting period from the time of filing to the time you can officially be divorced. During this period, the parties exchange financial documents such as pay stubs, bank account information, and retirement account statements, and file pendente lite motions. Pendente Lite motions are motions filed before final judgment which petition the court to enter temporary orders during the pendency of the divorce process. Examples of pendente lite motions include temporary child support and alimony, exclusive possession of the marital home, and orders for a temporary parenting plan. Aggressively pursuing pendente lite orders up front can be crucial in establishing your rights from the outset of the case.

Are there tax consequences to divorce?
Depending on your situation, there may be several tax issues to keep in mind. While property settlements generally are not taxable by the IRS, alimony must be included in the income of the party receiving it; however, it is allowed as a deduction to the party paying it. By contrast, child support payments are not taxed to the party receiving them, and may not be deducted by the party paying them. Finally, when transferring property as part of your divorce, it is important to account for any appreciated or depreciated property. An experienced divorce attorney can work to make sure you don’t end up facing an unfortunate tax situation, potentially years after the divorce.

Will the immigration status of my spouse or myself or be impacted if I file for divorce in Connecticut?
Perhaps. The legal immigration status of some individuals is obtained solely on the basis of their spouse's status. A divorce could vacate that status and subject an individual to issues with USCIS. For example, H-4 visa status could hinge on being married to a person with an H-1B visa, and the situation could get significantly more complex if there are minor children involved.

Speak with a New Haven divorce attorney at Marquette, Piscatelli, & Sheehan!


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