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Southport Connecticut Family Law Blog

Information to gather before divorce proceedings

Whether a couple was together for a few years or several decades, both parties will most likely want to make the divorce process as smooth as possible. During this time, it is critical to keep communication lines open and to take care of your own emotional well-being.

Another way to ensure a smoother process is to bring together all essential documentation willingly and without incident. It is vital to never hide assets, as your ex's legal team can easily discover these items. By remaining open and honest, you can complete the legal separation process much faster than most couples.

Understanding child custody laws

As countless Connecticut residents going through divorce are aware, the process can present seemingly endless obstacles. This is especially true for ex-spouses with children. While a child's best interest is generally top priority in child custody arrangements, the details of these laws can vary from state to state.

Untangling the fine print of child custody laws is often a challenge in itself. Family resource LiveAbout breaks down Connecticut's child custody laws in an accessible way, first noting that the state defines joint custody as a process that allows both parents to make important decisions. These decisions primarily involve the general welfare of the child, and equal time split between each parent. The state defines "legal custody" as decision-making rights, and uses the term "physical custody" to refer to the amount of time a child spends at each parent's home. Like most states, Connecticut courts usually consider the following when determining child custody:

  • The child's needs
  • The parents' preferences
  • The child's relationship with each parent
  • History of domestic violence
  • History of abuse  

MEDIATION IS ON THE RISE IN CONNECTICUT

Mediation is quickly becoming a preferred method for resolving family court cases. Most family law matters cannot be resolved with a simple answer. Unfortunately, many times when you litigate, you receive an order that doesn't actually address all of your underlying issues presented to the court. Your case deserves proper time and attention. In order to effectively work through problems everyone involved must be willing to dedicate the effort necessary to reach the best resolution possible. A courtroom cannot always provide this to people. Even with an attorney by your side in court, many times the courtroom experience is not pleasant. Courthouses are overpopulated and are overscheduled. Often times people wonder if there is a better way. There is. Mediation is an alternative to the litigation process that aids in negotiation and settlement, keeps parties' goals at the forefront of the process, and allows parties to move through the court system with more efficiency than traditional litigation.

The financial challenges of alternative reproduction

There is hardly another life event as exciting as expanding a family. For same-sex couples in Connecticut, this might entail a number of options. Despite the increasing accessibility of various alternative reproductive plans, many couples still struggle to make ends meet. One reason for this challenge lies in the exorbitant costs that often come with these plans. 

One 2016 U.S. News report brings the topic of fertility treatments and the steep costs that come with such procedures. Highlighting the case of two New Jersey lesbians attempting to conceive, the report recognizes the obstacles many same-sex couples face when making plans to have a child. Although traditional family dynamics have shifted and gay marriage has been legal for years, some have trouble receiving coverage for family planning from employers. Some state laws require that a couple demonstrates that they have tried to conceive naturally, but to no avail. Of course, this excludes same-sex couples, and many criticize the law for its discriminatory language. A great deal of patients go into debt as a result of the tedious steps of fertility treatment. 

Fertility plans and the options

Deciding to start a family can certainly be exciting, but can also have its fair share of overwhelming aspects. For same sex couples, choosing an assisted reproductive technology (or ART) is a major step that can change lives forever. For Connecticut spouses interested in these procedures, there are some details to know that can make the process a smoother one.

Gay Parents to Be explains the various options same sex couples have when it comes to expanding a family. The following fertility plans are available for women:

  • Artificial insemination
  • In-vitro fertilization (or IVF) with one person's egg and uterus
  • A reciprocal IVF 

How does surrogacy work?

As our society evolves, more and more people in Connecticut are opening their eyes to the various ways via which people can become parents. Certainly gay and lesbian couples need to look outside of traditional reproduction between partners to become parents but even a heterosexual couple may find themselves unable to conceive a child or to successfully carry a baby to term. If you are in one of these types of situations, you will be happy to know that there are more options available to you today than in prior generations.

If you have wondered about surrogacy, you will want to learn about the different ways in which it can work as there is not just one type of surrogacy program. Positive Parenting Ally explains that there can really be multiple distinct combinations of egg, sperm and womb that may be evident in a surrogate relationship. Certainly in all three forms of surrogacy, the one common factor is that it is the womb of the surrogate mother that carries the baby to term.

Bitcoin: the electronic way to hide assets during a divorce

If you and your high-asset spouse are embroiled in a Connecticut divorce, you may worry or even suspect that (s)he is hiding assets so as to slant the property settlement in his or her favor. Hiding assets is nothing new for spiteful and/or greedy spouses who wish to keep their partner in the dark about their true financial picture. What has changed with the advent of technology, however, is the way in which many of these spouses go about doing it.

Are you familiar with Bitcoin? If not, you definitely should educate yourself about this oldest and most widely known of today‚Äôs cryptocurrencies. This virtual currency did not even exist until 2009 when a mysterious person going by the name of Satoshi Nakamoto introduced his revolutionary new product to the world. To this day no one knows who Satoshi Nakamoto is or was, but an ever growing number of people worldwide have bought, traded, and purchased goods and services with Bitcoin in the past nine years.

Tax law flips alimony liability on its head

Divorced or would-be divorced couples in Connecticut may want to take note about a change that is looming regarding how spousal support payments will be taxed once the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act goes into full effect on January 1, 2019. 

As explained by the Internal Revenue Service, the current law assigns tax liability to the spouse who receives alimony payments. In addition, the IRS allows the spouse who must make spousal support payments the ability to deduct these payments from their federal tax returns. This arrangement has been integral into the development of many divorce settlements as taxation is one element considered when both sides in a divorce evaluate their full agreements that include not only alimony but property division and potentially even child support.

Alimony and tax responsibility

Connecticut spouses who are considering a divorce this year or possibly next year in 2019 should take the time to evaluate a rather significant change in the tax code that may have major implications for the outcome of their divorce settlement. 

As explained by the Internal Revenue Service, when a divorce decree today involves the order that one spouse make alimony payments to the other spouse, the person who pays the alimony does not have to pay income tax on the funds. Instead the person who pays spousal support actually may deduct the income from their tax return. The person who receives alimony payments must then claim that money as income on their tax return and therefore is responsibility for the income tax on the funds.

Legal rights for unmarried couples

Connecticut couples may not always think about their legal rights. However, if a couple is not married, they may need to pay closer attention to these rights.

People may intend to leave all of their assets to their partner after they die. According to Time magazine, unmarried couples typically need to ensure that their partner is listed as the heir on a will. Additionally, this partner usually needs to be listed as the beneficiary on life insurance and retirement benefits to receive these assets. Without some form of documentation, a person's assets are usually subject to Connecticut intestacy laws, and the assets might instead go to his or her siblings.

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