Family Law: The Law Offices of Debra B. Marino, LLC, Attorney-at-Law
657 Orange Center Road Orange, CT 06477 phone: (203) 298-0611 fax: (203) 298-0613
Practice Limited Exclusively to Divorce, Custody and all areas of Family & Matrimonial Law
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Marino Family Law: FAQs


What is the difference between a legal separation and divorce?
A legal separation is not required in Connecticut in order to be considered separated (in contrast to New York). One can obtain, however, a legal separation and there are benefits to doing so. This involves the same process as a divorce, except that the marriage is not dissolved at the end, although a formal separation agreement is in place detailing payment of bills, division of assets, custody arrangements, etc. The benefit is that under certain circumstances, the parties can remain on the same health insurance plan without a change in cost. The downside is that if some point either party seeks to convert the separation to a divorce, the terms can be changed if the court finds them inequitable at the time of conversion. The belief is that one has the protection of court orders.

How much does a divorce or custody case cost?
The cost of your matter depends on the complexity of the issues involved. A custody case, for instance, will require a higher retainer than a case with no children. You will be quoted a retainer fee against which time will be billed. You will also receive a monthly billing statement itemizing the time spent on your file. There are certain costs, such as the court filing fee of $350 and the cost of serving papers (average cost about $70) for which you will be directly responsible. Other costs not covered by a retainer include transcript fees if depositions are taken. Our office accepts Visa and MasterCard, as well as other forms of payment.

What are the different types of custody?
Legal custody refers to the decision making process regarding the children. Joint legal custody means that the parents have to consult regarding major issues, such as emergency medical, educational, and religion. Sometimes one parent has final decision making rights. When a parent has sole custody, he or she makes all of the decisions for a child. Physical custody, sometimes called residential custody, refers to where the child lives. Shared custody is not necessarily a 50/50 split on time; rather it refers to a situation in which a non traditional visitation schedule (alternating weekends plus one or two weeknights for dinner exists).

Will I have to pay or will I receive alimony?
Alimony is not based on a formula, unlike child support. Alimony is within the discretion of the court and is based on numerous factors, including but not limited to the length of marriage, health of the parties, disparity in income and needs to the recipient. The longer the marriage and the more disparity in income, the more likely it could be an alimony case. Alimony is taxable to the recipient and deductible to the payor.

How is child support determined?
We use a formula called the child support guidelines. This number is based on a combination of the parties' net incomes. In cases where the income exceeds the parameters of the child support guidelines, the court will determine the amount of child support. There are three components of child support. One is the weekly amount of support; another is work related child care expense to which each party must contribute. Third is uninsured medical and dental expenses, which are apportioned between the parties based on percentages set forth by the guidelines.

Can I access money/assets while the case is pending?
Yes, but only for reasonable attorneys fees and ordinary household expenses. Large non standard or non routine expenditures are prohibited by the automatic orders of the court.

Is Connecticut a fault state?
Yes. Although one can file for divorce for no reason, based on what is called irretrievable breakdown, this is a fault state. This means that the court will look at the causes for the breakdown of the marriage when it renders its orders in the case.

Can my spouse get part of my inheritance?
This state is what is called an equitable distribution state. This does not mean a 50/50 asset division. Rather, it means what is fair. A court can divide some or all of an inheritance. However, the more recent in time the inheritance, the less likely it is to be divided; particularly, if the asset has not been commingled.

Can I move out of state with my children while the divorce is pending?
No. Absent a court order or written agreement between the parties, neither party may permanently remove the children from the State of Connecticut while the case is pending.

Must we live together while the case is pending?
Either party is free to vacate the marital home. However, if children are involved, neither party may deny the other party access to the children. Until a party gets into court, it is best to maintain the financial status quo relative to the payment of household bills.

Who has custody of the children before getting into court?
The presumption in the State, absent a court order to the contrary, is joint legal custody. Although one parent may have been the primary caregiver, until a court awards that party physical custody, neither party is deemed the physical custodial parent.

What to bring to your consultation.
1. Your most recent paystub.
2. Your most recent tax return.
3. Any financial information as to the other party.

Copyright © 2007 by The Law Offices of Debra B. Marino, LLC. All rights reserved.