Family Law Litigation In Connecticut
Westport Litigation Attorneys skillfully navigate Connecticut Divorce, Post Judgment Modifications (Alimony, Child Support, and Parenting Orders) and Family Law Appeals
Divorce litigation means bringing divorce or family law claims before a judge. The judge reviews the evidence and circumstances of each party to make a final decision, resulting in a final divorce decree. The decree will handle the division of assets and financial responsibilities, child custody, and more, depending on the circumstances of your case.
Although Divorce Litigation can be time-consuming, expensive, and stressful, divorce litigation may be the only way to ensure your rights and interests are protected, especially when you have high-net-worth and complicated property holdings in Fairfield County. Knowing where to start when it comes to divorce proceedings can be challenging.
While it is generally advisable to reach a Divorce Settlement by agreement, sometimes litigation is the only way to uphold your rights, protect your best interests, and secure the safety and well-being of those you love. We are always prudent in advising clients about using litigation as the first option, but when we recommend going to trial, you can be confident that our advice is based on our careful assessment of your situation and your best interests will be forcefully represented.
At Needle | Cuda, our CT divorce lawyers are skilled litigators with extensive trial experience. To learn more about the divorce litigation process or schedule your initial case consultation, call us at (203) 429-4151 or visit our website today. .
Divorce Resolution Methods
Apart from divorce litigation, there are several other methods of divorce resolution. These options include divorce arbitration, divorce mediation, and collaborative divorce. All of these methods have benefits and disadvantages for your divorce resolution. However, arbitration, mediation, and collaborative divorce may not be suitable for you. The stakes are high when you are handling legal issues such as complex property ownership and high net income. Divorce litigation can help you ensure that your rights and interests are adequately represented and protected when you stand so much to lose.
Divorce Litigation In Connecticut
Litigation means taking legal action through the court. In other words, divorce litigation is when spouses decide to bring their divorce proceedings to court before a judge. Parties often choose to litigate where there are important divorce issues that simply cannot be handled by alternative methods. Issues generally handled by divorce litigation include:
- High-net-worth divorce
- Property division
- Alimony & spousal support
- Child support
- Child custody & parenting time
While alternative dispute resolution methods might be able to handle some of these issues, there are others that, by law or by process, cannot. Divorce litigation allows you to settle all aspects of your divorce in the same place in front of the same adjudicator.
Arbitration is a dispute resolution method used to resolve various civil claims, including Divorce and Family Law issues. Arbitration more closely resembles a trial; it is held privately between the two parties, their attorneys, and a neutral third-party acting as a judge. You and your spouse’s family law attorneys will submit evidence, present arguments, and receive a ruling to which both you and your spouse will be bound. Arbitrators are commonly retired judges or experienced attorneys. Depending on the proceeding, you will choose who the arbitrator in your arbitration will be.
Arbitration is a voluntary process. If you and your spouse choose this route, it must be entered mutually. If you cannot agree to arbitration, the court cannot mandate one for you. Once an arbitrator is chosen, the preceding begins. After the close of arguments, the arbitrator will render a ruling based on what they have heard. Their judgment will be binding on you and your former spouse and is likely final. Most arbitration proceedings are final because there are more significant restrictions on appeals of an arbitrator’s ruling than a traditional court ruling.
Mediation is an interest-based dispute resolution method requiring both parties to agree to participate in the mediation process. The parties meet with a neutral third party, the mediator, who guides discussions on issues in dispute, such as alimony, child custody, child support, and property division.
Mediation can provide you and your spouse with an outlet to resolve your divorce proceedings in a private, less stressful, and cost-effective way. If each party cooperates with complete transparency, you may see these benefits in your divorce mediation. In some cases, mediation can provide these benefits. Mediation has become very popular; however, this popularity is partly built on the misplaced notion that mediation always works as a suitable replacement for litigation and can handle all aspects of a divorce. The truth is that mediation is not always able to handle every case. Each case presents different facts or concerns that make a case incompatible with the mediation model. One of the foremost concerns is cooperation. Cooperation may not be an option depending on your divorce circumstances. Mediation will not be successful if the parties cannot cooperate.
Additionally, you have limited protections during the mediation process. In divorce litigation, the court oversees the process and controls its various working parts. However, you do not have the court’s protection during a mediation, especially if you had not litigated before undergoing mediation. When choosing mediation, you place yourself at the mercy of your spouse and their legal counsel. Suppose that your spouse does not want to divorce over your wishes. As a result, they may prolong the mediation process, wasting precious time and money on the divorce process. The mediation may not be successful, requiring you to start over with new arbitrators, attorneys, etc. Delays like this represent additional costs on top of what you have already spent. Litigation allows you to avoid issues like these through court oversight and orders, ensuring the process continues as necessary without undue delay.
A collaborative divorce is an alternative form of divorce resolution to divorce resolution proceedings. Each spouse has their own attorney for counsel outside of group negotiations.
One of the key differences between traditional divorce litigation and collaborative divorce is that in collaborative divorce, both parties explicitly agree to resolve all issues during collaborative proceedings without involving the court. The success of collaborative divorce proceedings hinges on several fundamental premises to fulfill its objectives:
- Agreement between both spouses to resolve outstanding issues
- Transparent information-gathering to facilitate negotiations
- A mutual, signed agreement between both parties not to go to court or litigate. If an agreement is not reached or if one party initiates litigation proceedings, the process is terminated
Collaborative divorce is a viable method that you can use to reach your final settlement. However, as with divorce arbitration and mediation, there are limitations to what collaborative divorce can accomplish. The main issue with collaborative divorce is that the success and equality of the proceedings and final agreement are contingent on each party adhering to their agreement to be truthful, cooperative, and open. If they are not and the experts and administrators of the process do not realize, you could have your rights and interests damaged. There are no checks throughout the process to hold the parties accountable, even if it is proven they have not kept to their word.
Another of the main issues involves cost and time. If you do not reach an agreement or something else occurs that causes the proceedings to be terminated, you will have to start over from the beginning. The failure of the collaborative divorce may require you to identify new attorneys or administrators to start the process. However, even though the initial proceedings may have failed, you will have to pay the lawyers, experts, and administrators for their time and work.
When does it make sense to litigate your CT Divorce or Family Law Matter?
Unfortunately, some divorces and other family law matters are highly contentious, raising significant impediments to negotiated solutions. Here are some red flags that that may signal the need for litigation:
Divorces in Fairfield County tend to have higher financial stakes. Fairfield County marital property can include various complex financial assets, titles and valuations to real estate, and private and family equity interests like trusts, inheritances, and other generational wealth transfers. Divorces involving these assets can be challenging, requiring a team of professionals to resolve. When such significant assets are at stake, you must have the legal system on your side, assuring the rules are followed and your assets are protected.
Additionally, parties may act dishonestly to deny the other assets or take more than they are entitled to when significant assets are involved. In high-net-worth divorces, spouses may be dishonest about the valuations of businesses, property, or other financial assets. In litigation, these valuations are verified through discovery, allowing you to hold the other party accountable and protect your rights and interests in those assets.
Enforcement Of Court Order
Only the court may issue orders related to your divorce proceedings. If you have a court order your spouse is not obeying, and you are not currently in litigation, you will be required to return to court to request enforcement.
A Party To The Divorce Is Unreasonable
Divorce, at the core, can be an emotional process. Depending on the particular divorce and relationship, parties may seek to deny the other assets, responsibilities, or duties simply to get revenge. The purpose of the court in divorce litigation is to ensure that these emotions do not negatively affect the process through oversight and control of the proceedings.
Issues Involving Children
These issues may involve legitimate concerns for your children’s immediate well-being or support following the divorce.
Divorces occur for many reasons, often based on “irreconcilable differences.” Irreconcilable differences are often required as a basis for divorce litigation. If those differences cannot be reconciled (usually requiring divorce as a remedy), the parties are unlikely to cooperate. If the parties cannot cooperate because of this dynamic, alternative divorce resolution methods will not be effective.
Challenges To Prenuptial And Postnuptial Agreements
Depending on your marriage, you and your spouse might have agreed to certain rights and responsibilities. These agreements can be made before or after marriage and involve various matters. These issues can be complicated and are best handled by experienced adjudicators. These agreements can substantially affect the divorce outcome depending on what a particular agreement requires.
Litigating a case can resolve an issue when a reasonable agreement cannot be achieved. Sometimes the only way to move forward or conclude a matter is to put the decision to a judge. Even where a case may ultimately be resolved by arbitration or mediation, the litigation process may provide helpful tools earlier in the process, such as orders on alimony, child support, counsel/expert fees and other financial issues while a case is pending. It also affords you the ability to formally seek discovery — requesting documents and other information and deposing witnesses — from the other party and even nonparties.
Litigation often takes longer than alternative dispute resolution. A litigated divorce can take years. Sometimes, however, a mediation may grow out of a litigation — for example, after resolution of certain disputed discovery issues. So, it’s important to consider the benefits and risks before committing to litigation. Our attorneys will thoroughly evaluate your unique situation and advise you on whether litigation is the right forum in your case.
Hiring A Connecticut Divorce Litigation Lawyer
Contact Needle | Cuda Divorce and Family Law when you need skilled divorce representation. Our experienced divorce lawyers understand the law and process involved in divorces to help you choose the best method to meet your representation needs. To learn more about Divorce Litigation and alternative divorce resolution methods, contact Needle | Cuda Divorce and Family Law at 203-557-9500 or contact our Westport office online.