Frequently Asked Questions about Family Law in Connecticut
What is involved in starting the process for a divorce or dissolution? The first step would be the filing of a properly executed petition with the appropriate court. The court must have what is called subject-matter jurisdiction, which would entail satisfying the requirements of residency or domicile within the state and county dictated by the statute. This can be as little as six weeks or as long as three to six months. Without this threshold requirement being met the court would not have the jurisdiction to hear the matter and execute an order or decree of divorce, or dissolution, or like orders terminating the marital state.
How are Custody and Visitation issues decided? No area of family law brings to the courtroom the tension, anxiety, hostility, volatility and raw emotion as child custody and visitation litigation. Rare is the divorce , dissolution or custody determination in which the parties have been able to set aside personal differences to reach the goal of what is best for the children involved. Most parents pay lip service to this ideal, but often cannot reach it in actuality.
Most often a judge will take great pains to get parents themselves to come to a mutually acceptable custody agreement if that is possible. A decision made by a stranger is rarely completely acceptable to all if the attempt has not been made in earnest. The family court systems of the states usually have several layers of counseling, mediation and conciliation to attempt to bring warring parents together for the purpose of resolving the issue of what it is in the best interests of their children.
What about visitation? Generally a court will grant reasonable visitation rights to a parent unless it is shown that the visitation will be detrimental to the best interests of the child. A non-parent can in the discretion of the court also be granted if they have an interest in the welfare of the child, this is generally divided into the area of grandparents, step-parents and other non-parents. It should be noted that this is discretionary. The court may also approve visitation plans and restrictions considering factors relevant to the best interests of the child. How can a parent remedy the frustration of visitation rights? A variety of remedies are available to provide relief to the non-custodial parent who has had visitation rights frustrated. The non-custodial parent can commence an action to show cause concerning contempt for violating the courtís order pertinent to visitation. This is not a favored alternative. The court also has power to modify support, yet this works a hardship on the welfare of the child and is similarly not favored-Another alternative is to ask the court to require the custodial parent to post a monetary bond, which would be forfeited if the custodial parent frustrates visitation. Usually a history of frustration of visitation is the threshold which much be shown the court, not a sole incident. What is Child Support? Child support is a payment by one parent (often the non-custodial parent) to the other parent for the support of their common child. (See Child Support and Visitation.) It is in the best interest of a child for both parents to be obligated to pay for the support of their child. An order for child support transfers the income/wealth from one parent to the other so that the combined incomes/wealth of both parents is available to use for the support of the child.
What is Child Support used for? Child support covers everything a child needs, and even more, during the growth and formative years. Keep the following in mind:
A parentís first and principal obligation is to support his or her minor children according to the parentís circumstances and station in life; and
Children should share in the standard of living of both parents. Thus, the amount of a child support award is more than a question of bare necessities.
If the child has a wealthy parent, that child is entitled to, and therefore needs something more than the bare necessities of life. Where the supporting parent enjoys a lifestyle that far exceeds the custodial parentís living standard, child support must to some degree reflect that more opulent lifestyle. This is so even though, as a practical matter, the child support payments will incidentally benefit others in the custodial household whom the payer parent has no obligation to support (e.g., custodial parent owed no spousal support, adult children, or children from custodial parentís other relationships).
Children should share in the standard of living of both parents. Child support may therefore appropriately improve the standard of living of the custodial household to improve the lives of the children. Children are entitled to share in non-custodial parentís elevated standard of living despite custodial parentís substantially lower income. Awarding supported children a percentage of a non-custodial parentís future bonuses ensures they will share in his standard of living.
How is the amount of the Child Support determined? Federal law now requires that the amount of a child support payment be set in accordance with a guideline. Having a guideline is believed to prevent widely different amounts of child support being ordered from courtroom to courtroom. Guidelines provide an objective basis for the determination of the amount of support to be paid. As a result, most states have established formulas that are used to determine the amount of the payment from one parent to the other. Does my divorce decree protect me if my ex-spouse has filed for bankruptcy and she has listed me as a co-signer on a Schedule D? If you are contractually bound with your ex-spouse on a debt, the creditor can require the entire payment of that debt from your share of the marital estate even though the divorce decree assigns the debt to your ex-spouse. Depending on the terms of your divorce decree, you may be able to have certain support obligations under it determined to be non-dischargeable by the bankruptcy court or in state court. If you find out that your ex-spouse has filed for bankruptcy, you should seek legal advice to find out your possible obligations.
My Ex Has Threatened To File Bankruptcy. What Effect Does Bankruptcy Have On Child Support? Filing for bankruptcy protection does not allow your ex to discharge past due child support obligations. Any back payments owed for child support cannot be included as a debt and cannot be discharged in a bankruptcy proceeding.
However, the filing of a bankruptcy petition automatically stops collection activities on a support order. Since there are legal procedures that must be followed in order to lift the stay regarding the payments, it is crucial to retain an attorney who has expertise in bankruptcies.
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