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Hartford Family Law Blog

Connecticut's neighbors among states named worst for divorce

Divorce is never an easy process. However, one divorce attorney, using information from sources including state bar associations and legislatures as well as the U.S. Census Bureau, compiled a list of the seven states that are the worst in which to divorce. The list has nothing to do with alimony requirements, child custody laws or other aspects of divorce. It is based on legal and regulatory requirements such as extensive waiting periods and expensive filing fees.

While Connecticut is not one of them, three of our neighboring and nearby states are. These are New York, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Divorced Connecticut couples and Social Security spousal benefits

Social Security benefits may be far down the list of assets considered by many Connecticut couples contemplating or going through a divorce. However, your share of your ex-spouse's benefits can be an important source of income in your retirement years, particularly if your ex earned more money over the course of his or her working life than you did.

There are some restrictions for collecting benefits owed to an ex-spouse. According to an executive with the investment management company BlackRock, in most cases you can collect spousal benefits when both of you are at least 62 years old if you meet several requirements. You must have been married to that person for at least a decade, divorced for at least two years (unless you were already collecting benefits) and be currently unmarried.

Study looks at education levels and divorce over the decades

It used to be that marriages in Connecticut and around the country where the wives had a higher level of education than their husbands were more likely to end in divorce. A recent study found that this is no longer the case.

The authors of the study, which appears in the American Sociological Review's August issue, note that the "reversal of the gender gap in education" has resulted in more marriages where the woman has a higher level of education. However, it found that this is no longer associated with a greater chance that the marriage will end.

Former Knicks player reaches divorce deal

It's been a summer of changes for Raymond Felton. Phil Jackson, the New York Knicks' new president, traded the 30-year-old point guard to the Dallas Mavericks late last month. Then earlier this month, he and his estranged wife reportedly agreed to the terms of their divorce.

The former Knick was not in the courthouse when the deal was reached but his soon-to-be-ex was. He negotiated the agreement via telephone along with his lawyers.

Judge directs Sanfords to mediate trust fund modifications

Many of our readers recall the case of Mark Sanford. In fact, according to a July 14 article in The Post and Courier, the tale of the married South Carolina governor who admitted in 2009 to an affair with an Argentinian woman will be among the political sex scandals covered in a new off-Broadway production. His original excuse to his staff for disappearing for a few days -- that he was hiking the Appalachian Trail -- became a euphemism with which late-night television hosts had a field day. Sanford, who has since been elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, is now engaged to his former mistress.

Part of the fallout of that scandal was the dissolution of his marriage the following year. Now the congressman and his former wife are still battling in court. This time, it's over trust funds for the couples' two youngest sons. The boys were 10 and 12 when their parents divorced.

Basketball player wants custody of child if paternity is proven

A paternity allegation by a young woman against a professional basketball player may not have turned out the way she’d anticipated. Paul George, a forward for the Indiana Pacers, has reportedly decided that if tests confirm that he is the father of a 2-month old baby, he wants sole custody of the little girl. The 24-year-old player reportedly had a relationship with the child’s mother last summer while she was working as a stripper in Miami. She gave birth on May 1. The woman, who has since moved to be near family in New York, filed a paternity suit against George during this year’s Eastern Conference finals. George has met the child. However, he has questioned the paternity test that was done before the baby was born and is asking that another one be done. If he is determined to be the child’s father, multiple media outlets are reporting that he wants sole custody of her.

Don't forget retirement plans in Connecticut divorces

The number of divorces among couples in their 50s and older has been increasing over the past decades, and has doubled in the past 24 years. It's estimated that by 2030, there will be about 800,000 "gray divorces" per year.

Divorce is not easy at any age, but it can present additional financial challenges for those who are older and more financially established. People relying on joint retirement accounts, pension plans and defined-contribution plans to support them in their golden years can emerge from a divorce with only a fraction of that money. Meanwhile, they are facing the added expenses that come with living on their own.

Why divorcing Connecticut dads should stay in the home

Recently, we discussed how fathers are increasingly getting better child custody agreements in divorces. However, as one lawyer who deals with men's rights during divorce points out, too many men harm their chances of getting joint physical custody by voluntarily moving out of the house prior to the divorce. He says that's one of the biggest mistakes that men make during a divorce, and possibly the biggest mistake of their lives.

Why not move out, if it will make things more peaceful for everyone? First, it will likely to be harder to convince a judge that you are actively involved in your children's lives if you chose to leave. It sends a contradictory message. Further, if the divorce and custody proceedings are particularly rancorous, it could be portrayed as abandoning your family. In addition, whatever informal visitation arrangement you make with your estranged spouse after you leave could become the template for the final custody arrangement.

Why child custody rights are improving for fathers

Women have achieved significant advances in legal rights over the past decades, which has meant a shift in the family unit and the roles of mom and dad in many cases. Now more men are seeking greater custody rights of their children.

State legislators and judges across the country are listening. Even the language around child custody is changing. Terms like "parenting time" are replacing sole and joint custody. However, custody laws still vary from state to state, and even within individual states and counties. One family law attorney, however, says that no state is "a beacon of being father friendly."

Why divorce can cause weight gain for Connecticut kids

Amid the stress of divorce, parents often don't realize the impact of their break-up on their children, both physically and emotionally. One of the physical manifestations can be weight gain.

This can occur for any number of reasons and sometimes, for multiple ones. As one psychiatrist notes, when one parent takes over primary care of the children, he or she may not have the time or inclination to prepare healthy meals. Parental attention to what children are eating or how they are spending their time may also suffer.

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