Attorney Tara Knight clears up the most common misconceptions people have about alimony and explains the ins and outs of child support.
Each state has specific rules regarding divorce and custody. Read on for more information about Connecticut’s laws on alimony and child support.
Connecticut is a no-fault divorce state. This means if one of the spouses believes the marriage has broken down irretrievably, that is all that needs to be alleged in order to get a divorce. Fault, however, is considered by a judge when divvying up property and assets. Fault for the breakdown of the marriage is not as big a factor as most people are led to believe. It plays a role when it is very substantial and has a large effect on the breakdown of the marriage and/or the loss of marital income or property.
Either spouse can receive alimony. The rationale for alimony is not a punishment to one spouse or another, but a way to provide income to a non-wage earning or lower wage earning spouse who typically was supported during the marriage.
Alimony is based on a number of factors, including the length of the marriage, the cause of the divorce, the age, health and occupation of the spouses as well as their education and employability. There is no set formula for alimony and the type, amount and duration could vary depending on the specific judge assigned to the case.
An attorney cannot represent both parties in the divorce. However, if the parties come to an agreement in regard to the divorce, one attorney can draft the agreement. This attorney, however, still represents one spouse.
Connecticut is an equitable distribution state, meaning that the judge has the power to redistribute property to either spouse regardless of when or how the property was acquired in the first place.
As is the case in all property acquired during the marriage, both spouses have an interest in the marital home regardless of how the property was initially acquired. Leaving the marital home prior to or during the divorce does not mean that spouse has abandoned his or her or interest in that property.
In Connecticut, the judge has to consider the Connecticut child support guidelines. These guidelines are based on income and the number of minor children. Child support is usually awarded until the child turns 18. Judges in Connecticut can also ask that either parent contribute to college expenses under certain circumstances.
If your income is off the grid, meaning unusually large and not included in the guidelines, the judge will consider the ability of each of the parents to pay support and the particular needs of the child.
There are different types of custody. The judge can give custody of any child to either parent based on the facts of the particular case. The judge must consider the best interest of the child and consider the wishes of the child if the child is mature enough to form an opinion. If the parties have come to an agreement, the judge will usually accept that agreement. However, when custody is disputed, the judge will listen to not only the parents’ side of the case but also may appoint a lawyer for the children so that their particular interests are represented.
Joint custody means that both parents continue to make major decisions about the child’s rearing. It could mean that the child lives with both parents, but usually when joint custody is ordered, physical custody is given to one parent or the other with visitation rights awarded to the non-resident spouse.
Usually, the court orders reasonable visitation rights to the non-resident spouse with the hope that the spouses can work out issues of visitation between themselves. However, in particularly contentious matters the court will set forth a visitation schedule.
Visitation rights are independent from child support obligations and a mom, for example, can’t deny visitation to a dad who is late or not paying his child support.