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What are most important things to consider in a divorce in Connecticut?

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David W. Griffin - Family Law - Super Lawyers

Answered by: David W. Griffin

Located in Westport, CTRutkin, Oldham & Griffin, LLC

Phone: 800-591-6471
Fax: 203-222-9295

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There are three major issues to resolve in divorce: child custody, alimony and division of assets. Below we provide a brief overview of each issue, with takeaways on how you can prepare yourself for the divorce. 

Child custody

With child custody, courts want the children to have stability and predictability in their lives. The standard that the courts use to make custody decisions is, “What is in the best interests of the child?”

As you approach divorce, it is very important to keep the “best interests” standard foremost in your mind. It is the lens through which all the child custody decisions will be made.

The best interests of the child are unique to every family. The facts of your case and the realities of your family will determine what “best interests” means for your situation.

Important takeaway: As you discuss child custody with your divorce lawyer, be honest and frank about everything. Your lawyer wants to know what is really going in your family, so he/she is prepared for what the other side will try to argue.

 Alimony

The purpose of alimony is to ensure there are no adverse financial effects on one of the parties. Specifically, courts use alimony to give the spouse with lower income or no income a source of money to support him or her.

There are a multitude of factors that can be used to determine the specific alimony for a case. These include: the couple’s standard of living during the marriage; the ability of the payer to support himself or herself, after paying the recipient; length of the marriage; the age, health and financial status of the recipient.

Important takeaway: When thinking about alimony, it is important to distinguish between assets of the marriage and ongoing income. People are very fuzzy about the distinction between assets and income, constantly blurring those distinctions. Assets are things like real estate, personal property and investments. Income is the amount of money that is earned on a recurring basis. When determining alimony, the courts focus on income.

 Division of assets

Connecticut is an equitable distribution state. This means the court will divide assets based on what is fair.

Fairness is different for every divorce, but factors the court uses can include: length of the marriage; age and physical and mental health of each spouse; earning power of each spouse; financial needs of each spouse; which spouse will have primary custody of the children.

As we mentioned above, assets and income are not the same thing. Assets can include real estate, personal property (for example, bank, investment and retirement accounts).

Important takeaway: if you have significant assets, find a lawyer who truly understands finance and has considerable experience with complex divorces.

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