Considering Your Future: Frequently Asked Questions
DISCLAIMER: The information provided below is general in nature and may not accurately reflect your individual situation. As such, it should not be considered legal advice. For information or advice regarding your specific situation, you should consult an attorney experienced in family law.
Q. HOW INVOLVED WILL I BE WITH THE DECISION-MAKING PROCESS CONCERNING MY CASE?
A. Under Rule 1.2 of the Rules of Professional Conduct, the client determines the objectives of representation and the attorney, pursuant to Rule 1.4 of the Rules, shall consult with the client to determine the means by which the client’s objective shall be achieved. Attorney Lilburn believes that you, as the client, should be advised, to the fullest extent possible, regarding the potential advantages and disadvantages of a course of conduct. We work hard to make you feel more empowered by providing you information. We also guide you toward a course of conduct that will help reach your goals and objectives.The final authority for resolving issues rests with you, the client. However, we will apprise you as to the current state of the law and the probability of success as measured by experience. We are working pursuant to the responsibility given to us by you. We will make our planning and actions as consistent with your fundamental objectives as we realistically can make them. Concerning our approach, we will balance being firm, as an advocate, with being fair and reasonable. Every effort will be made to settle your case through four-way settlement conferences and negotiation. We will seek court intervention only as a last resort. Taking firm but reasonable positions normally results in more satisfactory results.
Q. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PENDENTE LITE (TEMPORARY) ORDERS AND FINAL ORDERS?
A. Pendente lite or temporary orders are only in effect until a judgment of divorce is entered by the court (final orders).
Q. WHEN ARE ASSETS DISTRIBUTED?
A. Assignment or distribution of assets takes place at the time judgment enters. Once judgment enters, property orders may not be modified barring exceptional circumstances or agreement of the parties. Pursuant to the Automatic Orders, neither party may sell or otherwise dispose of any joint asset in his or her name without permission of the court or by agreement of the parties.
Q. WHAT DOES THE COURT CONSIDER WHEN DETERMINING THE DISTRIBUTION OF ASSETS?
A. The court considers numerous factors when determining the distribution of assets. The factors are detailed in Connecticut General Statutes section 46b-81(c). The factors include: (1) the length of the marriage; (2) the causes for the annulment, dissolution of the marriage or legal separation; (3) the age; (4) health; (5) station; (6) occupation; (7) amount and sources of income; (8) vocational skills; (9) employability; (10) estate; (11) liabilities and needs of each of the parties; (12) the opportunity of each for future acquisition of capital assets and income; and (13) the contribution of each of the parties in the acquisition, preservation or appreciation in value of their respective estates.
Q. DUE TO THE CURRENT JOB SITUATION, EITHER MY SPOUSE OR I MAY NEED TO MOVE. WHAT ARE THE CHANCES OF RELOCATION BEING PERMITTED?
A. The burden of proof in a relocation action rests with the moving party. In accordance with Connecticut General Statute section 46b-56d, the moving party must prove that (1) the relocation is for a legitimate purpose; (2) the proposed relocation is reasonable in light of such purpose; and (3) the relocation is in the best interest of the child. Among the factors to be considered in reaching a determination regarding relocation, a court must consider (1) the reasons that the relocation is being sought and opposed; (2) the quality of the child’s relationship with each parent; (3) the impact of the proposed relocation on the quantity and the quality of the child’s future contact with the nonrelocating parent; (4) the degree to which the relocating parent’s and child’s life may be enhanced, economically, emotionally and educationally by the relocation; and (5) the feasibility of preserving the relationship between the nonrelocating parent and the child through suitable visitation arrangements.
Q. DO I NEED AN ATTORNEY FOR MY DIVORCE OR CUSTODY ACTION?
A. Not every divorce requires the services of a family law lawyer. If you and your spouse had a short marriage without substantial assets, limited income, and no minor children, you can successfully represent yourself.
However, if you and your spouse had a moderately long marriage with substantial assets, significant income, substantial disparity in income, and/or minor children, you should absolutely consult with an attorney. Familiarity with the law and its application to the facts of your case can determine your future lifestyle in years to come.
If you have children without a marriage you are equally at risk without the services of an attorney. It is important that you understand the nuances of custodial designations and how they should match the developmental stages of your child.
Because each situation is unique, an attorney is best able to assess your case competently. A detail that seems unimportant to you may have major legal significance as it plays out in your child’s life and your life.
Q. WHAT ARE THE QUALITIES OF AN ATTORNEY WHO CAN HELP ME ACHIEVE MY GOALS?
A. First, the attorney you choose must be interested in you and your case at a personal level.
Second, the attorney must exhibit knowledge of the law as it applies to the facts of your case.
Third, the attorney must have had enough experience to be able to advise you appropriately. She or he must have knowledge of the factors that apply to determination of child support and alimony as well as the facts that determine custody issues.
Q. WHAT DOES IT MEAN WHEN WE SAY CONNECTICUT IS AN EQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION STATE?
A. States can be either equitable distribution states or community property states. In an equitable distribution state, the real and financial property of the parties is distributed in an equitable manner according to the factors set forth in section 46b-81 of the Connecticut General Statutes. The parties may either come to an agreement of their own or the court may make the distribution after a trial. Over 95 percent of cases settle without a trial in Connecticut. It is important to analyze the case in view of the statute and then come to a general understanding of what is fair under the circumstances.
Q. WHAT INFORMATION SHALL I SHARE WITH AN ATTORNEY DURING AN INITIAL CONSULTATION?
A. When meeting with an attorney for an initial consultation, you should provide the following information:
1. The date and place of your marriage;
2. The names and dates of birth for each of your minor children;
3. Whether you and your spouse have a premarital or post-marital agreement;
4. Your custody preference and whether there is likely to be a dispute regarding your child’s residence, parental access or major decisions;
5. Your income and the income of your spouse for the last three (3) years;
6. Whether your own any real estate or property with or without your spouse, whether your spouse owns any real estate or property, the approximate value of the real estate, and any outstanding mortgages and equity lines of credit on the real estate;
7. Investments assets and bank accounts held jointly and individually;
8. Retirement assets held by you and your spouse; and
9. Any inheritances left to either party.
This is not an exhaustive list of items to share with an attorney but it provides information that will lead to a productive consultation.