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Hartford Family Law Blog

How can a forensic accountant help in your Connecticut divorce?

A key element of every divorce is dividing up a couple's assets and liabilities. This may sound relatively simple, and sometimes it is. However, our lives are becoming ever more financially complicated. You don't have to be part of the one percent to have stock portfolios, retirement plans, business partnerships, trusts and valuable collectibles. Moreover, the older you are when you divorce, the more of these assets you and your spouse have likely accumulated.

If one soon-to-be-ex is less than forthcoming about his or her real income and/or assets, the goal of getting a fair settlement can become even more complicated for the other spouse. People who own their own businesses can often hide income or assets more easily than other people. Even people who are genuinely trying to be fair may forget about a pension from a job they had many years ago, as a June 27 New York Times article on later-in-life divorce noted.

Equal financial control during marriage may ease alimony disputes

The determination of alimony, or spousal support, payments can be one of the most challenging and bitterly-contested aspects of divorce. In fact, there is a request that alimony be modified in almost 80 percent of all divorces. That's understandable since the future financial stability of both spouses may be at stake.

Under Connecticut law, when determining alimony, courts are required to consider factors regarding the marriage itself, including its length and the reason for its dissolution. Income and the potential to earn money, including education and skills, are also to be considered. If one parent is caring for minor children, it needs to be determined whether that parent can or should work outside the home. The health and ages of the spouses may also be factors.

When non-custodial parents contest termination of parental rights

When people with children remarry, the new spouse of the custodial parent often becomes a surrogate parent to those children, particularly if the non-custodial parent is no longer part of the children's lives or is a negative or abusive presence. In these cases, the stepparent often wishes to legally adopt the children to help solidify the relationship. Sometimes foster parents who have been caring for children wish to adopt them.

While this is generally done with the best interests of the children in mind, biological parents may fight the move. For them it means permanently surrendering their parental rights. Even if they do not see or provide financial support for the children, they may fight this step.

Divorce may be the best financial option for some older couples

Divorce rates are increasing among older Americans for a number of reasons. Interestingly, some are purely financial. People are living longer than previous generations. For those who did not adequately prepare by securing long-term care insurance and/or putting enough money away for medical care, the financial costs of growing old can be overwhelming.

Both long-term care and medical expenses are increasing rapidly. A certified financial planner makes the case that in some cases, a divorce is the only way to avoid financial ruin.

How is paternity established in Connecticut?

For many Connecticut parents, the birth of a child is a time of joy and togetherness for both mother and father. However, there are some instances where the paternity of the child is subject to question.

Being named the father of a child carries both legal rights and responsibilities. Some men fight to prove paternity so that they can have legal rights to him or her and be part of the child's life. Others, believing that they may not be the father, seek to prove this so that they do not have to financially support a child who is not theirs. As we note on our website, paternity testing is easy, but what comes next can be complicated.

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.

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