If you are dissolving your marriage and cannot agree with your spouse about critical issues like child custody or property division, you have a contested divorce. Absent a divorce settlement agreement, the divorce proceeding will go to trial, and a judge will decide on the disputed issues.
A contested divorce is a complex process, and you will need an aggressive and knowledgeable attorney to assist you. A Stamford contested divorce lawyer will take the time to understand your needs and fight vigorously to protect your interests.
The law allows Connecticut residents to dissolve a marriage without assigning fault. The couple can agree that their marriage is irretrievably broken with no hope of reconciliation. In some cases, asserting that the other spouse was at fault might be advantageous. Courts will consider fault when dividing property, ordering spousal support, and making child custody decisions. If a spouse feels that the other spouse’s conduct should obligate them to pay more or is a danger to their children, raising fault in a divorce can be appropriate.
However, there are disadvantages to this strategy. An individual must demonstrate the other spouse’s fault with clear and convincing evidence. Importantly, divorce hearings are public. Airing private matters publicly could have unforeseen consequences and be harmful to children. A lawyer in Stamford can explain the grounds for a fault-based division and determine whether alleging fault is the right tactic in a contested divorce case.
Connecticut property division law requires an equitable distribution of marital property upon marriage dissolution. Equitable means fair under the circumstances, but not necessarily equal. Any property either spouse owns and appreciation in the property’s value is marital property subject to equitable division. However, courts will respect a valid pre-nuptial agreement that separates certain assets as personal property, thereby excluding those assets from division. Issues around splitting marital property equitably often result in heated battles that require judicial intervention.
Sometimes a spouse attempts to hide or knowingly undervalues assets to avoid sharing them with their former spouse. A contested divorce attorney in Stamford works with business valuation experts, forensic accountants, and other specialists if there is a reasonable suspicion that a spouse is hiding assets. Courts may punish a spouse who attempts to hide assets by awarding the other spouse more alimony, a larger portion of the marital property, or attorney fees.
Tragically, issues concerning child custody often cause a marriage to breakdown. Sometimes, a parent attempts to leverage access to the children to gain a more lucrative settlement. Such attempts are detrimental to children, and courts may punish a parent it suspects of such tactics.
According to Connecticut General Statutes §46b-56, courts must consider the children’s best interests when making decisions regarding custody, visitation, and child support. Judges may look at any relevant factors when deciding what arrangement is in the child’s best interest, including:
A court will consider the wishes of a child who can make a reasoned decision about their living arrangements, but a child’s desire does not necessarily count more or less than any other factor. A Stamford divorce attorney can assure that children receive protection from a genuinely unsafe parent and will ensure that any parental abuse, neglect, or unfitness allegations are grounded in fact before raising them in court.
A contested divorce can be disruptive to children and delay your ability to move forward with your life. Unfortunately, sometimes a contested proceeding is the only way to get a fair outcome after a marriage breaks down.
A Stamford contested divorce lawyer has the knowledge and tenacity to help you achieve your goals in a marriage dissolution against strong opposition from your spouse. Reach out to retain a knowledgeable legal representative.