Alimony Basics in Connecticut

When two people enter into marriage, each has the duty to support the other.  When couples divorce, that duty to support may continue.  That’s the concept of alimony, in a nutshell.

AlimonyIn many cases, the incomes of the two divorcing parties are disparate. For example, if one party earns $150,000 per year and the other earns $30,000 per year, the difference in their incomes is $120,000 per year. Combined, that married couple lives on $180,000 per year. When divorcing, there has to be a way to equalize the money each person will have available to live on. The party earning $150,000 will likely be obligated to pay alimony to the party earning only $30,000. There are a variety of factors that the courts must consider.

Connecticut General Statutes Sec. 46b-82 states that:

“In determining whether alimony shall be awarded, and the duration and amount of the award, the court shall hear the witnesses, if any, of each party, except as provided in subsection (a) of section 46b-51, shall consider the length of the marriage, the causes for the annulment, dissolution of the marriage or legal separation, the age, health, station, occupation, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate and needs of each of the parties and the award, if any, which the court may make pursuant to section 46b-81, and, in the case of a parent to whom the custody of minor children has been awarded, the desirability of such parent’s securing employment.”

In some cases, one party to the marriage has given up a career or educational opportunity in order to stay at home and raise the couple’s children. On divorce, that party has very few employment options and may require training or education before being able to command a salary that is higher than minimum wage. It is only fair, then, that the party with the income pay alimony to the party without income in order for that disadvantaged party to be able to obtain the training or education necessary to become employable. A court will certainly take such circumstances into account when determining an alimony award.

In order to provide security to the person receiving alimony, our statutes provide that:

“The court may order that a party obtain life insurance as such security unless such party proves, by a preponderance of the evidence, that such insurance is not available to such party, such party is unable to pay the cost of such insurance or such party is uninsurable.”

This is only meant to be a brief overview of the alimony process in Connecticut.  If you are in the process of divorcing, your attorney will explain your personal alimony obligation to you in detail.

In addition to this blog which is specific to the lesbian and gay community, I also publish a general blog called Attorney O’s Midnight Musings: Connecticut Law.  While the posts on that blog are not specific to the LGBT community, the information is none-the-less appropriate to the community as well.  The above post originally appeared on my other blog but it is useful for divorcing same-sex couples to review.  Originally titled “Alimony 101 posted By Irene C. Olszewski, Esq. on May 16, 2011.

————————————

Stay connected with our Social Media Pages:

Connecticut Lesbian and Gay Law blog on Facebook for all blog posts from this blog as well as additional stories and links of interest to the LGBT community. 

Attorney O’s Midnight Musings Blog on Facebook for all blog posts from that blog as well as other legal news.

Law Offices of Irene C. Olszewski, LLC on Facebook

Law Offices of Irene C. Olszewski, LLC on Google+

Law Offices of Irene C. Olszewski, LLC on Twitter

Be sure to LIKE our pages and become a follower!

————————————

Disclaimer: The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice. I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog.  Read my entire disclaimer.

copyright 2013 Irene C. Olszewski, Esq.

Divorce for Same-Sex Couples in Connecticut

Lesbian DivorceWith the start of a new year, the calls and e-mails from couples wishing to discuss divorce have started coming in.  It’s not a new phenomenon.  People often wait until the holidays have passed before they start asking questions about divorce.  I suppose I could have chosen to post today on a cheerier topic but I’m just being honest.  The inquiries are coming in and there are plenty of other folks out there trying to understand the divorce process.

Let me begin by saying that if - and only if – you or your spouse reside in Connecticut and have been a resident of this state for at least 12 months, Connecticut’s courts will have jurisdiction to adjudicate your divorce.  If you live in another state but were married in Connecticut, you can’t obtain a divorce in this state, no matter how much you want to do so.  Connecticut may have married you but unless you are a resident, it has no jurisdiction over your divorce.

That may present a problem for some couples.  If you don’t live in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage (at least for the purposes of granting a divorce), you are stuck.  The only thing to do is move to the nearest state that does recognize same-sex marriage.  Each state has its own residency requirements, so you’d be wise yo check out the rules before making a move.

I’ll ask again, as I so often do in this space … please don’t call or e-mail me for advice on how to obtain a divorce in another gay-divorcestate.  I am licensed to practice law in Connecticut and cannot speak to you about the laws of another state.  Please don’t call to say that you were married in Connecticut but don’t live here and want to speak to me about how to obtain a divorce.  I’ve already explained that Connecticut can’t divorce you unless you are a resident.

If you own property in Connecticut but don’t actually reside here, you are not a resident.  If you have a post office box in Connecticut but don’t actually live here, you are not a resident.  You are a resident of the state in which you are registered to vote, pay your taxes, register your cars and obtain your drivers license.

Until all 50 states recognize same-sex marriage, this dilemma will continue for same-sex couples.  It’s not fair.  It’s discriminatory.  It’s reality for now and it just plain stinks.

If you DO reside in Connecticut and are considering a divorce, you are welcome to download my complimentary brochure, The Divorce Process in Connecticut.  For information specific to same-sex couples, I invite you to check out my website section on Dissolution (Divorce) of Same-Sex Marriages & Civil Unions Legal Separation & Annulment in Connecticut.  Finally, you might want to check out some of my earlier posts on this blog about same-sex divorce.

If you reside in a state other than Connecticut and are looking for a lawyer to help you with your divorce, you might call the local bar association for a referral.  If you are looking for a lawyer who specifically works with same-sex couples, you might contact GLAD (Eastern U.S.) or Lambda Legal (Western U.S) for a referral.

It’s important to understand your rights in divorce and to understand the divorce process itself.  A conversation with a divorce attorney can help to put your mind at ease.

————————————

Stay connected with our Social Media Pages:

Connecticut Lesbian and Gay Law blog on Facebook for all blog posts from this blog as well as additional stories and links of interest to the LGBT community. 

Attorney O’s Midnight Musings Blog on Facebook for all blog posts from that blog as well as other legal news.

Law Offices of Irene C. Olszewski, LLC on Facebook

Law Offices of Irene C. Olszewski, LLC on Google+

Law Offices of Irene C. Olszewski, LLC on Twitter

Be sure to LIKE our pages and become a follower!

————————————

Disclaimer: The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice. I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog.  Read my entire disclaimer.

copyright 2013 Irene C. Olszewski, Esq.

Parental Relocation of a Minor Child

moving vanWhen parents divorce and the custodial parent wishes to move to another state with the minor child(ren), it may not be as simple as packing up the moving van and driving away. It is important to understand that a divorce decree will specifically address the issues of custody and visitation. These orders of the court are fully enforceable and not following them may find you in contempt of court.

For example, let’s assume that your divorce decree orders that both parents have joint custody of the minor children and that you have physical custody of them (meaning they live with you). Your ex-spouse has visitation with the children on Wednesday evenings and every other weekend from Friday after school through Sunday night at 8:00. You can’t relocate the children out of state at a whim without effecting the existing court-ordered parenting plan. In other words, if you relocate to another state, the other parent’s visitation is prevented (or at the very least, compromised).

Before you put the house up for sale and quit your job, you should be aware that effective October 1, 2006, Connecticut General Statute 46b-56(d) reads:

“(a) In any proceeding before the Superior Court arising after the entry of a judgment awarding custody of a minor child and involving the relocation of either parent with the child, where such relocation would have a significant impact on an existing parenting plan, the relocating parent shall bear the burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, that (1) the relocation is for a legitimate purpose, (2) the proposed location is reasonable in light of such purpose, and (3) the relocation is in the best interests of the child.

(b) In determining whether to approve the relocation of the child under subsection (a) of this section, the court shall consider, but such consideration shall not be limited to: (1) Each parent’s reasons for seeking or opposing the relocation; (2) the quality of the relationships between the child and each parent; (3) the impact of the 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 the 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.”

You should also be aware that with regard to modification of such court orders, pursuant to Connecticut General Statute 46b-56(c):

“In making or modifying any order as provided in subsections (a) and (b) of this section, the court shall consider the best interests of the child, and in doing so may consider, but shall not be limited to, one or more of the following factors: (1) The temperament and developmental needs of the child; (2) the capacity and the disposition of the parents to understand and meet the needs of the child; (3) any relevant and material information obtained from the child, including the informed preferences of the child; (4) the wishes of the child’s parents as to custody; (5) the past and current interaction and relationship of the child with each parent, the child’s siblings and any other person who may significantly affect the best interests of the child; (6) the willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage such continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent as is appropriate, including compliance with any court orders; (7) any manipulation by or coercive behavior of the parents in an effort to involve the child in the parents’ dispute; (8) the ability of each parent to be actively involved in the life of the child; (9) the child’s adjustment to his or her home, school and community environments; (10) the length of time that the child has lived in a stable and satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity in such environment, provided the court may consider favorably a parent who voluntarily leaves the child’s family home pendente lite in order to alleviate stress in the household; (11) the stability of the child’s existing or proposed residences, or both; (12) the mental and physical health of all individuals involved, except that a disability of a proposed custodial parent or other party, in and of itself, shall not be determinative of custody unless the proposed custodial arrangement is not in the best interests of the child; (13) the child’s cultural background; (14) the effect on the child of the actions of an abuser, if any domestic violence has occurred between the parents or between a parent and another individual or the child; (15) whether the child or a sibling of the child has been abused or neglected, as defined respectively in section 46b-120; and (16) whether the party satisfactorily completed participation in a parenting education program established pursuant to section 46b-69b. The court is not required to assign any weight to any of the factors that it considers.” (Emphasis added.)

NOTE:  In addition to this blog which is specific to the lesbian and gay community, I also publish a general blog called Attorney O’s Midnight Musings: Connecticut Law. While the posts on that blog are not specific to the LGBT community, the information is none-the-less appropriate to the community as well. The above post appeared on my other blog but it is useful for divorcing same-sex couples to review.  Originally published by Irene C. Olszewski, Esq. on May 11, 2010.  Modified slightly as to gender for this blog.

————————————

Stay connected with our Social Media Pages:

Connecticut Lesbian and Gay Law blog on Facebook for all blog posts from this blog as well as additional stories and links of interest to the LGBT community. 

Attorney O’s Midnight Musings Blog on Facebook for all blog posts from that blog as well as other legal news.

Law Offices of Irene C. Olszewski, LLC on Facebook

Law Offices of Irene C. Olszewski, LLC on Google+

Law Offices of Irene C. Olszewski, LLC on Twitter

Be sure to LIKE our pages and become a follower!

————————————

Disclaimer: The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice. I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog.  Read my entire disclaimer.

copyright 2012 Irene C. Olszewski, Esq.

Residency Requirements for Same-Sex Divorces in Connecticut

I know it’s supposed to be Fast Friday but I’m still on hiatus. Here’s an older post I hope you’ll find useful.

State Residency Requirements Apply to Same-Sex Couples Seeking Divorces

Posted on July 27, 2010 by Irene C. Olszewski, Esq.

I’ve posted on this topic before and I’ll likely post on it again because it is the issue for which I receive the most calls every week in my law practice. If you are a same-sex couple and you entered into civil union or marriage in the State of Connecticut but you do NOT reside in Connecticut, how do you obtain a divorce?

It’s not news that lesbian and gay couples can marry in some states … but just try to get divorced!

In Connecticut, whether you are a same-sex couple or an opposite-sex couple, our statutes state that:

Sec. 46b-44(c) A decree dissolving a marriage or granting a legal separation may be entered if: (1) One of the parties to the marriage has been a resident of this state for at least the twelve months next preceding the date of the filing of the complaint or next preceding the date of the decree; or (2) one of the parties was domiciled in this state at the time of the marriage and returned to this state with the intention of permanently remaining before the filing of the complaint; or (3) the cause for the dissolution of the marriage arose after either party moved into this state.

No matter who you are, if you want to obtain a divorce in Connecticut, you must reside in this State. Period.

If you are a heterosexual couple, you can obtain a divorce in all 50 states (provided you meet that State’s statutory residency requirements). If you are a lesbian or gay couple, however, you can only obtain a divorce in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage. That’s a serious problem for many gay couples.

Until the blatantly discriminatory federal DOMA and similar discriminatory DOMA legislation in most states can be obliterated, same-sex couples will find obtaining a divorce quite the challenge. It’s unfair, yes. But it happens to be the truth.

In the end, here’s what it comes down to: If you are a same-sex couple wishing to enter into marriage, please be sure to reside in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage in case you later want to obtain a divorce.

Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Don’t get me started.

————————————

Stay connected with our Social Media Pages:

Connecticut Lesbian and Gay Law blog on Facebook for all blog posts from this blog as well as additional stories and links of interest to the LGBT community. 

Attorney O’s Midnight Musings Blog on Facebook for all blog posts from that blog as well as other legal news.

Law Offices of Irene C. Olszewski, LLC on Facebook

Law Offices of Irene C. Olszewski, LLC on Google+

Law Offices of Irene C. Olszewski, LLC on Twitter

Be sure to LIKE our pages and become a follower!

————————————

Disclaimer: The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice. I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog.  Read my entire disclaimer.

copyright 2012 Irene C. Olszewski, Esq.

For Legal Purposes, Is Voluntary Cohabitation Between Opposite-Sex Couples the Same as Cohabitation Between Same-Sex Couples Who Do NOT Have the Right to Marry?

I recently debated this topic with a colleague and I thought it was worth discussing here. The question is whether cohabitation between opposite-sex couples who choose NOT to marry should be treated the same for legal purposes when the relationship ends as same-sex couples in long-term relationships who cohabitated but did NOT have the right to marry.

Before we go any further, let me set the stage. For purposes of this discussion, let’s assume that the same-sex couple lived together in a committed relationship for 25 years. They had a commitment ceremony with 125 guests at a banquet facility complete with a live band, a sit-down dinner and a wedding cake. They exchanged vows and commitment rings. They celebrated their union the same as an opposite-sex couple would have with the exception that the State wouldn’t allow them to obtain a marriage license. As the years went by, they pooled their finances to purchase a shared home. They own 2 cars which are titled in both names. They have always maintained joint checking and savings accounts. Both names appear on their certificates of deposit (CDs). Each person is named as beneficiary on the other’s life insurance policy and retirement plan. When Connecticut finally legalized civil union in 2005, they obtained a license and renewed their vows before a Justice of the Peace. When Connecticut legalized same-sex marriage in 2009, they once again stood before Justice of the Peace. Life changed and they now wish to dissolve the relationship, which means they must obtain a divorce.

Okay. Now consider the opposite-sex couple who have lived together for 20 years. They discussed the possibility of marriage more than once and each time, opted not to walk down the aisle. Every day of those 20 years, they had the right to marry, yet they chose not to exercise that option.

The central difference between the 2 hypothetical couples is that the opposite-sex couple had a choice to marry or simply live together for the entire relationship. The same-sex couple did not.

Under the law, the legal relationship of the same-sex couple began on the date they entered into civil union. Essentially, it ignores 15 of the 20 years they resided together in a committed relationship.

Should that couple’s relationship for the purposes of divorce be considered the date that the had the commitment ceremony or the date their home state legalized same-sex marriage?  I believe the former rather than the latter should apply.

————————————

Stay connected with our Social Media Pages:

Connecticut Lesbian and Gay Law blog on Facebook for all blog posts from this blog as well as additional stories and links of interest to the LGBT community. 

Attorney O’s Midnight Musings Blog on Facebook for all blog posts from that blog as well as other legal news.

Law Offices of Irene C. Olszewski, LLC on Facebook

Law Offices of Irene C. Olszewski, LLC on Google+

Law Offices of Irene C. Olszewski, LLC on Twitter

Be sure to LIKE our pages and become a follower!

————————————

Disclaimer: The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice. I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog.  Read my entire disclaimer.

copyright 2012 Irene C. Olszewski, Esq.

Another Gay Divorce Issue in Maryland

I post often about how difficult it is for same-sex couples who marry in a state that recognizes gay marriage but actually reside in a state that does not to obtain a divorce if the marriage later fails.   Just ask Jessica Port and Virginia Anne Cowan.  The two married in California (which legalized gay marriage and then took away the right by voter referendum) but they reside in Maryland.  As you might guess, Maryland doesn’t recognize their marriage and is refusing to grant them a divorce.  The couple is now appealing the lower court’s ruling.

Read:   A court’s conundrum: When same-sex partners want to split

I cannot emphasize this enough, folks.  If you reside in a state that does not recognize same-sex marriage and you obtain a marriage in a state that does, you can’t later obtain a divorce unless one of you becomes an actual resident of a state that recognizes your marriage.  And no, having a post office box in that state doesn’t make you a resident for purposes of the court’s jurisdiction.

People from all over the country call me to explain that they want Connecticut to grant them a divorce because Connecticut married them even though they don’t live in this state.  I explain over and over that it doesn’t work that way.  Read my post “Please Don’t Get Married in Connecticut Unless You Live Here!”  It might save you a bit of hassle later on.

—————————

Follow Connecticut Lesbian and Gay Law blog on Facebook for all blog posts from this blog as well as additional stories and links of interest to the LGBT community. Be sure to LIKE our page.

——————————

Follow the Law Offices of Irene C. Olszewski, LLC on Facebook.   Be sure to LIKE our page.

——————————

Visit us on Google+ and be sure to join our circle.

————————————

Disclaimer: The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice. I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog.  Read my entire disclaimer.

copyright 2012 Irene C. Olszewski

Court Rules that Wyoming Has Jurisdiction Over Same-Sex Divorces

Last week, the Wyoming Supreme Court ruled that although that state does not recognize same-sex marriage, its courts do have jurisdiction over divorces filed by same-sex couples married in other jurisdictions.  The court was clear that it was only addressing same-sex divorce:

“Nothing in this opinion should be taken as applying to the recognition of same-sex marriages legally solemnized in a foreign jurisdiction in any context other than divorce,” Justice Michael Golden wrote in a footnote.

“The question of recognition of such same-sex marriages for any other reason, being not properly before us, is left for another day.”

Read the court opinion here.

——————————

Disclaimer: The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice. I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog. Read my entire disclaimer.

copyright 2011 Irene C. Olszewski

Arrest Made in Miller-Jenkins Custody Case

I posted here and here about the Miller-Jenkins custody case.  I received the following press release from GLAD while I was away for the holiday weekend. It is re-printed here for your review in its entirety:

ARREST MADE IN MILLER-JENKINS CUSTODY CASE

Statement of Janet Jenkins

April 21, 2011

As just reported in the Rutland Herald (pay site), there has been an arrest in the custody case involving former civil union partners Janet Jenkins and Lisa Miller, and their daughter, Isabella Miller-Jenkins. Lisa did not comply with a court order to transfer custody of Isabella to Janet on January 1, 2010.

The person arrested is one Timothy David Miller (link to criminal complaint). Little more is known at this point.

Janet Jenkins issued the following statement from her home in Vermont:

“I’m grateful to everyone in law enforcement for working so hard on finding my daughter, as well as to my attorney, Sarah Star. I know very little at this point, but I really hope that this means that Isabella is safe and well. I am looking forward to having my daughter home safe with me very soon.”

Attorney Sarah Star of Middlebury, who has been representing Janet, said, “It is clear that the government has been working hard on this. Janet is very pleased and we are both hopeful that this will be a step in the right direction of bringing Isabella home. At this point we need to let law enforcement do their work, and recognize that there are still steps to go.”

Mr. Miller will make an initial appearance in U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont in Burlington on Monday, April 25, at 9 a.m.

Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders has represented Janet at the appellate level in Vermont; Lambda Legal has represented Janet at the appellate level in Virginia.

——————————

Disclaimer: The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice. I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog. Read my entire disclaimer.

copyright 2011 Irene C. Olszewski

Please Don’t Get Married in Connecticut Unless You Live Here!

Every week, without fail, I receive at least a dozen phone calls or e-mails from gay and lesbian couples who do not live in Connecticut, have never lived in Connecticut and never plan to live in Connecticut.  In addition to not being residents of the Nutmeg State, each of those couples has one important thing in common:  they came to Connecticut to be married.

I should sign up for one of those 900 numbers just to take the hundreds of calls I receive each year asking one important legal question:  “If we got married in Connecticut but don’t live there, how do we get divorced?”  At $1.99 per minute, I might actually be able to retire while I still have a fully-functioning mind!

I’m sorry to have to keep saying this folks, but unless you live in a state that recognizes gay marriage, you’re stuck.  In order for a court to grant you a divorce (or legal separation or annulment), that court must have jurisdiction over you.  For purposes of a divorce, the court won’t have jurisdiction unless you are a resident of the state in which you seek your divorce.

Even though I’ve posted on this issue more than once, I continue to get hundreds of calls and e-mails from gay and lesbian couples who want me to give them a different answer.  Sorry, there’s no way around it.  If you got married in Connecticut and you want to obtain a divorce in Connecticut, you have to reside in Connecticut.  Period.

It’s a sad fact of life that not all marriages last.  Heterosexual couples don’t have to worry about what happens when their marriages end because they can obtain a divorce in all 50 states.  Gay and lesbian couples do not yet have that luxury.

So here are three words of caution to same-sex couples who don’t live in Connecticut but wish to be married in this state:

Don’t do it!

———————————————————-

Disclaimer: The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice. I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog. Read my entire disclaimer.

copyright 2011 Irene C. Olszewski

A Smorgasbord of Gay and Lesbian News Tidbits

I enjoy my late night meanderings on the cyber highway and have collected some news items of interest to the gay and lesbian community. Some are recent and some are older but still worth a read. Please let me know if you come upon something that is newsworthy and I’ll be sure to post it.

Applause is in order here …
Schwarzenegger continues to reject Prop 8 appeal [Associated Press]

Petition to Mandate California Governor File an Appeal in Perry v. Schwarzenegger Decision [Constitutional Law Prof Blog]

Why doesn’t this surprise me?
Study: Gay marriage isn’t a threat in Iowa [Press Citizen]

More applause is in order:
Sandra Day O’Connor to defend embattled Iowa judges The Iowa Independent]

Just in case you’re in the mood to travel …
Gay unions made legal in Australian territory [International Living]

This is both ironic and sad — but honestly not all that surprising:
Wealthy Prop 8 Foe Has Gay Son [Gay City News]

And so it goes …
Dallas judge’s ruling saying gay couple could divorce in Texas rejected on appeal [Dallas News]

Same-Sex Divorce a No Go in Dallas [Wall Street Journal Law Blog]

See my original post on the Texas divorce case: Texas Judge Rules State’s Ban on Gay Marriage Unconstitutional [Connecticut Lesbian and Gay Law]

And just in case you missed this one, read my post on Texas GOP Not So Gay-Friendly (as if that’s a surprise). [Connecticut Lesbian and Gay Law]

The world of gay and lesbian law continues to change daily, it seems. Stay tuned for more twists and turns on this roller coaster ride we call equality.

 

 

Disclaimer:  The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice.   I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog. Read my entire disclaimer.

copyright 2010 Irene C. Olszewski