Friday, March 28, 2014

A Practical Guide to Divorce in Connecticut

A Practical Guide to Divorce in ConnecticutOn January 6, 2014, MCLE New England published “A Practical Guide to Divorce in Connecticut”.  This book takes the reader through the divorce process from the client intake through post trial motions and appeals.  Written by many of the top Family Law attorneys in Connecticut, this book will become a valuable resource for family lawyers at all experience levels.  Flaherty Legal Group, LLC is proud to announce that Attorneys Sandi B. Girolamo and Pamela M. Magnano were contributing authors to this publication. 

Attorneys James T. Flaherty, Sandi B. Girolamo and Pamela M. Magnano practice Divorce and Family Law in West Hartford, Connecticut
Attorney Pamela Magnano and Attorney Sandi B. Girolamo practice divorce and and family law with Attorney James Flaherty at Flaherty Legal Group, LLC in West Hartford, Connecticut.  

Friday, February 7, 2014

Divorce and Taxes

There are many issues to consider when negotiating a divorce agreement, but most people do not consider all of the implications a divorce can have on your taxes.  When preparing to enter into a divorce agreement, you should consider whether certain exemptions/deductions should be addressed in your divorce agreement.  Parents should have an agreement on who claims the children for the dependency exemption.  Additionally, you should speak to your accountant about the IRS rules regarding claiming the child care credit and the child tax credit.   In addition, if you own a home, your agreement should be clear on who gets to claim the taxes and interest associated with this ownership. 
When analyzing whether or not an agreement is in your best interest, it is important to not only know your weekly disposable income but also what you can expect when tax season approaches.  We encourage our clients to work with their accountants and our attorneys to maximize the benefits that they may receive when filing their taxes.  At Flaherty Legal Group, LLC we believe it is important to consult professionals that can assist us and you in making the best decisions.
Attorney Pamela Magnano of Flaherty Legal Group. Divorce and Family Law Attorney West Hartford, Connecticut.
Attorney Pamela Magnano of Flaherty Legal Group, LLC
Attorney Pamela Magnano practices Divorce and Family Law with James Flaherty and Sandi Girolamo at Flaherty Legal Group, LLC in West Hartford, CT.

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Attorney Magnano Selected to New Leaders in the Law 2013

Attorney Pamela Magnano of Flaherty Legal Group in West Hartford, Connecticut.  Attorney Magnano practices divorce and family law with James Flaherty.
Attorney Pamela Magnano
We would like to congratulate Attorney Pam Magnano on her selection to the Connecticut Law Tribune's New Leaders in the Law for 2013. Out of nearly 300 of the best and brightest nominees, Pam was one of 60 attorneys to receive the honor.  Attorney Magnano will be recognized in the New Leaders in the Law 2013 yearbook published by the Law Tribune, and will receive an award at the New Leaders in the Law awards dinner on November 7th.  Of the many qualifications that led to Pam's selection, notable examples include her innovative and determined approach to family law, as well as a dedication to service best exemplified by her volunteer work on the board of directors of the Children's Law Center

Connecticut Law Tribune Logo in blog post announcing Attorney Pamela Magnano as on of the New Leaders in the Law for 2013.        

Attorney Pamela Magnano practices divorce and family law with 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Matthew Gauruder Memorial Scholarship Golf Tournament

Attorney Pam Magnano and Flaherty Legal Group sponsored a tee at the 9th Annual Golf Tournament in memory of Matthew Gauruder.
Through continued support over the past eight years, almost $100,000 has been donated to the Matthew Gauruder Memorial Scholarship Fund at Rockville High School in Rockville, CT. Scholarships have been awarded to 41 students since its inception in 2002. 
The tournament takes place on the 3rd Monday in August at Topstone Golf Course in South Windsor, CT.  

Flaherty Legal Group Tee Sponsor at Matthew Gauruder Memorial Scholoarship Golf Tournament

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Supreme Court Rules On Same Sex Marriage Cases

On June 26, 2013, the United States Supreme Court issued rulings on the two cases involving same sex marriages.  In a 5-4 decision on the case of United States v. Windsor,133 S.Ct. 2675 (2013), the Court overturned a law that denied federal benefits to couples in same sex marriages.  This means that couples in same sex marriages will be afforded the same rights to these benefits as couples in heterosexual marriages.  It is important to note that this case deals with extending federal benefits to couples in states where same sex marriages are allowed and does not extend the right to marry to states where it is not currently allowed.  In issuing this decision, Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority found that the Defense ofMarriage Act (“DOMA”; 1 U.S.C.A. § 7) is invalid because it denies same sex couples the rights that the states intended them to have by allowing them to marry and violates the due process and equal protection clauses of the Constitution.  The decision in this case will have an impact on same sex divorce cases throughout the country, including here in Connecticut.DOMA instructs all federal officials, and indeed all persons with whom same-sex couples interact, including their own children, that their marriage is less worthy than the marriages of others.

The Supreme Court also decided to act on the case of Hollingsworth v. Perry, 133 S.Ct.2652 (2013), claiming that the supporters who argued for the ban on same sex marriages imposed by California’s Proposition 8 had no legal standing to bring the case.  In refusing to decide this case, the California trial court’s decision striking down Proposition 8 still stands.

Attorney Pamela Magnano practices divorce and family law with Attorney James Flaherty at Flaherty Legal Group in West Hartford, CT
Attorney Pamela Magnano

Attorney Pam Magnano practices divorce and family law at Flaherty Legal Group in West Hartford, CT.  She first wrote about this topic in a March 2013 post titled "Same Sex Marriage and The US Supreme Court". 
Contact Attorney Magnano by calling 860-904-2034 ext. 3

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Prenuptial Agreements

Many people chose to enter into prenuptial agreements prior to getting married.  A question that is often asked by our clients is:  will this agreement be valid if I divorce?  Prenuptial agreements (sometimes referred to as antenuptial agreements) are reviewed on a case by case basis.  However, there are some items that can help you determine if your prenuptial agreement will be valid.
The date that the agreement was entered into is an important factor in determining how the Court will decide its validity.   On October 1, 1995, Connecticut General Statutes § 46b-36g went into effect.  This statute governs the enforcement of premarital agreements made on or after October 1, 1995.  The statute provides that a premarital agreement will not be enforced if the party against whom enforcement is sought proves:  (1) it was not executed voluntarily; (2) it was unconscionable at the time it was signed or the time it is sought to be enforced; (3) the party was not provided with fair and reasonable disclosure of the other parties’ assets and income; (4) the party was not afforded an opportunity to consult with counsel.  Agreements entered into prior to October 1, 1995 are governed by the three prong test (pp 15) established in the case of McHugh v.McHugh, 181 Conn. 482 (1980).  The three prong test established by the McHugh Court provided that prenuptial agreements would be enforceable if: (1) the contract was validly entered into; (2) its terms do not violate public policy; (3) the circumstances of the parties at the time the marriage is dissolved are not so beyond the contemplation of the parties at the time the contract was entered into as to cause its enforcement to work injustice.  Id. at 485-486.
The Court in Crews v. Crews,295 Conn. 153 (2010) elaborated on the third prong in the McHugh case.  The Crews Court found that “to render unenforceable an otherwise valid antenuptial agreement, a court must determine: (1) the parties’ intent and circumstances when they signed the antenuptial agreement; (2) the circumstances of the parties at the time of the dissolution of the marriage; (3) whether those circumstances are ‘so far beyond’ the contemplation of the parties at the time of execution; and (4) if the circumstances are beyond the parties’ initial contemplation, whether enforcement would cause an injustice.”  Id. at 168.  The burden of proving these elements is on the person seeking to enforce the agreement.  This clarification in Crews makes the issue of whether or not an otherwise valid agreement will be enforceable very case specific. 
For Prenuptial Agreements entered into on or after October 1, 1995, the Court will make its determination regarding validity by analyzing the four factors listed in C.G.S. § 46b-36g.  It is important to note that a party seeking to have the prenuptial agreement deemed unenforceable does not have to prove all four factors.  For example, the Agreement may have been entered into voluntarily but if the party can show that he/she was not provided with fair and reasonable disclosure of the other parties’ assets and income, the Agreement will deemed unenforceable.  Similar to the Agreements entered into prior to October 1, 1995, the analysis of whether or not to enforce a prenuptial agreement is very case specific. 
Regardless of whether your case will be examined under the three prong test outlined in McHugh or whether it will be governed by the statute, your attorney will need specific information concerning your circumstances both at the time of the execution of the agreement as well as at the time of divorce in order to help you determine if the agreement will be enforceable. You should make sure you provide your attorney with an accurate, signed copy of the prenuptial agreement and copies of any correspondence leading up to the execution of the same.  You should also bring copies of any financial disclosures that were made by either party prior to signing the agreement if they are not already attached to the prenuptial agreement.

Attorney Pamela Magnano practices with Attorney James T. Flaherty at Flaherty Legal Group, LLC in West Hartford, CT.  Magnano and Flaherty practice divorce and family law, including prenuptial agreements.
Attorney Pamela Magnano
Attorney Pamela Magnano practices Divorce and Family Law with Attorney James T. Flaherty and Attorney Sandi B. Girolamo at Flaherty Legal Group in West Hartford, CT.

Friday, April 12, 2013

DIVORCE: Process - What You Should Know

The divorce process can seem daunting.  It is recommended that a person who is considering divorce or a person faced with divorce be informed and, in most cases, represented and advised by an attorney.  In the following post from our four-part blog series about Divorce, Attorney James T. Flaherty provides information about the process of divorce.


In our representation of a client in a divorce matter, once we have determined what you want in regard to a settlement, and once we are reasonably certain that we have the financial and other information we need regarding your spouse, we will attempt to negotiate a settlement with your spouse's attorney.  We will, of course, not agree to anything that you do not approve.  We will also strongly advise you against any agreement that we do not feel to be in your best interests.


Dissolution of marriage cases can be set down for a final hearing on any one of three lists.  Cases where the parties have reached a settlement go on the uncontested list and the hearing consists of reporting the agreement to the court for approval.  Cases where the parties dispute custody of the children or grounds for the dissolution are set down on the contested list.  Cases where custody is not an issue but the parties dispute the division of their assets or the amount of alimony or support are heard on the limited contested list.
Contested and limited contested hearings will usually be preceded by a negotiating session.  A family relations officer may meet with the parties individually and jointly, with and/or without their attorneys, to attempt to reach a settlement.  If the parties settle, their agreement will be submitted to the court for approval.  If the parties cannot settle, the court will set a trial date, which may be several weeks or months later, depending on the estimated length of the trial and the availability of court time.
The court considers the following in determining the division of the parties' assets:  the length of the marriage, the causes for the annulment, dissolution of the marriage or legal separation, the age, health, station, occupation, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate, liabilities and needs of each of the parties, the opportunity of each for future acquisition of capital assets and income, the contribution of each of the parties in the acquisition, preservation or appreciation in value in their respective estates.


Under Connecticut law, a dissolution of marriage may invalidate certain portions of any will or trust you may have.  To protect yourself and the interests of your loved ones, it is important that you have a Will drawn up after the divorce.
The dissolution of your marriage, however, will not affect the beneficiary of any life insurance policies you may have.  If you wish to make any changes on your life insurance policies, I suggest that you contact your agent.  Please remember that the automatic orders of the court prohibit any change of beneficiary during the pendency of the action.


As attorneys, we make every effort to keep our client advised regarding his or her matter by sending copies of most correspondence and pleadings either received or sent out by our office.  A client need not appear in Court unless notified by email, telephone or letter from our office.  If a client should be served with a subpoena, he or she should immediately call our office and notify us.  A client should not hesitate to call our office if there is a question about his or her case.

When a spouse fails to follow a court order, whether it relates to alimony, support, or visitation, there is a mechanism called "contempt" to which we may turn.  By this process the court is directed to the need for enforcement and may enter such compelling orders as are needed, including monetary fines and, in some instances, incarceration.  Should a client’s spouse not follow a Court order, the client should bring this to the attention of his or her attorney immediately.


Either party may come back to court after the final judgment has been entered and request an increase or decrease in alimony so long as there has been no stipulation by the parties that such modification is not to be allowed.  The party seeking the change must prove that there has been a substantial change in circumstances since the time of the dissolution. The court maintains continuing jurisdiction over child support until the child’s eighteenth birthday or the child’s graduation from high school, but no later than the child’s nineteenth birthday. 
Custody of the children may be modified at any time after the Judgment if there is a substantial change of circumstances affecting the best interests of the children.  The final Judgment of the court regarding property awards are not, in the absence of fraud, modifiable.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article about the Divorce Process. Please continue to read our series of articles about Divorce, which includes "Basics", "Money", and "Parenting".  The purpose of the Flaherty Legal Group blog is to provide useful information about divorce and family law in Connecticut.  

Hartford, CT
There are 13 judicial districts courts for family matters in Connecticut.
The Superior Courthouse in Hartford is Located at 90 Washington Street.
Attorney James T. Flaherty practices Divorce and Family Law with Pamela Magnano and Sandi Girolamo at Flaherty Legal Group in West Hartford, CT.
Attorney James T. Flaherty
Attorney James T. Flaherty practices Divorce and Family Law with Attorney Pamela M. Magnano and 
Attorney Sandi B. Girolamo at Flaherty Legal Group in West Hartford, CT