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

DIVORCE: Money - What You Should Know

A major concern to parties involved in a divorce is money. How are marital assets such as property, savings and investment accounts divided and allocated? What costs are incurred in the course of gettting divorced? What about alimony and child support? How do these questions get answered?
If you are represented by Flaherty Legal Group in your divorce, you will be asked to provide a financial history of your marriage. This information will be needed by your attorney so that he or she knows the appropriate facts necessary to represent you.  The facts you provide will be used by the court to base its orders for the awarding of property and, if requested, alimony and support. The information requested will include:
- The present amount and sources of your income and that of your spouse.
- A complete chronological history of how you and your spouse contributed to the acquisition, preservation, or appreciation in value of the assets listed on your financial affidavit (see below). This history should include:
            - The sources of all cash used to purchase all assets, including stocks, bonds and all real estate owned during the marriage.
            - The amounts and signatories of all mortgage(s).
            - Whether loans were secured from family or friends; and
            - How investments and other types of assets were acquired. Include also a description of the assets, if any, that you or your spouse had on the date of your marriage. 
- You will be asked to describe:
            - The opportunity that you and your spouse each will have to acquire property or other assets in the future.
            - The lifestyle of you and your spouse during your marriage, concentrating in particular on the several years prior to the filing of the action for a dissolution of your marriage.  You will be asked to indicate the type of furnishings in your home, the frequency and type of vacations you took, meals out and other types of entertainment, country clubs joined, and so on.
            - The amount each spouse earned during the past five years.  This will include any and all benefits, including pension, bonuses, health and life insurance, stock options, automobile and/or travel provided by employers, credit union, and so on.
            - Who managed the finances and how any debt was incurred.
            - If you have any children, you will be asked to describe any special needs they have, including educational, medical, and so on.  You will describe your child-care if both spouses are working and your opinion of whether it is desirable for the custodial parent to be employed. 


At the time of the final hearing, and at any other time in which there is a court hearing regarding orders, the parties must submit to the court financial statements sworn to and signed under oath.
At the beginning of your case, we give you a financial affidavit form and ask you to complete it.  We will also ask you to supply us with any pay stubs, copies of income tax returns, and any other financial documentation you may have.  We will then go over your figures with you so that we may have an accurate financial affidavit in your file.  Whenever we are to go to court on financial matters, we will contact you to update your financial affidavit.
Your spouse's attorney will have the opportunity to cross‑examine you about your financial affidavit.  He may subpoena your employment, banking and other financial records and compare this information with what you have stated on the affidavit.
Note that the line immediately above your signature on the financial affidavit states:  "I hereby certify that the foregoing statement is accurate to the best of my knowledge and that I can, if requested submit documentation for all assets, liabilities, and expenses listed above."


The court has the power to order one spouse to make payments to the other.  Alimony is paid to maintain the other spouse and can be paid in one lump sum or periodically.  Child support is paid periodically to the spouse who has custody of the children to maintain the children. 
The court also has the authority to order Post Majority Support for children after they have reached the age of majority under Connecticut General Statutes 46b-56c.
There are important federal income tax considerations involved in regard to these payments.  The spouse making alimony or unallocated alimony and support payments may deduct these from taxable income, while the recipient of alimony or unallocated alimony and support must declare these payments as income. Child support is not deductible by the payor nor taxable to the recipient.


In representing you, Flaherty Legal Group offers you our skill and our time.  After entering into a representation agreement with our firm, much of what we do for you is not done in your presence and you have a right to know how our fees are determined. All legal services are charged at an hourly rate, including research, court appearances, phone conferences, office conferences, court appearances and the like.  Because it is impossible to know in advance how much time will be required for the resolution of your situation, we cannot charge a fixed fee.  To some degree you will be able to affect the legal fee charged because the complexities of the issues involved in your case together with your ability to resolve issues with your spouse will directly impact the ultimate total fee. You should note also that time spent on the telephone is billed at our hourly rate.
Our office requires that you pay a retainer, which is a fee paid in advance and credited toward legal services rendered. Should the final fee be less than the retainer, we return the difference to you. If the retainer does not cover the full fee, you will be billed for the difference. Bills are sent monthly and you are asked to keep current on these monthly bills. Separate costs expended by our office on your behalf, such as filing fees and service fees, will be billed to you. Sizeable fees will be discussed with you before being incurred and you should feel free to ask about your expenses at any time. This is further explained in the Representation Agreement you receive during the initial consultation. Monthly statements will be sent to you so that you are aware of the status of your account. 

Thank you for reading this installment of our informational blog series about divorce. In addition to this article about the financial aspects of divorce, other sections include: Basics, “Parenting, and The Process.

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 Flaherty

Attorney James T. Flaherty practices Divorce and Family Law with Attorney Pamela M. Magnano and 

DIVORCE: Parenting - What You Should Know

We continue our four-part blog series on Divorce with this post about Parenting.  Needless to say, there is much more that goes into the divorce process when the best interests of children are involved.  The following is but a small offering of information.  To acquire a better understanding of the laws, process and implications of divorce on your children and the role you play as a parent, you should consult with a Family Law Attorney.


Effective January 1, 1994, the court must order the parties in family cases in which a minor child is involved to attend a parenting Education Program.  Effective October 1, 1997, you are required to attend this program within (60) days of your return date.  Click to see a Brochure from the Court which explains the program and provides a list of locations where you may attend these classes.  An Order Certificate will need to be completed by the Service Provider.  You will need to be aware of your return date and plan your participation in this program accordingly.  


Cases that involve disputes over custody of children are the most difficult for the client to live through and for the attorney to try.  The court usually will assign a family relations officer and sometimes an attorney for the minor child to investigate the case and to offer recommendations.  There may also be reports submitted by psychiatrists, psychologists or social workers, either ordered by the court or hired by the parties.
The court, based on what it believes to be the best interest of the child, will usually enter orders of sole custody or joint custody with the children's principal residence with one of the parties. The non‑custodial parent is usually granted rights of visitation that, depending on the circumstances, may be either specific or general. 

Please read further into our four-part blog series on Divorce.  Other articles cover information pertaining to Divorce Basics, Money, and the Process.  

Attorney James Flaherty of Flaherty Legal Group in West Hartford, CT practices divorce and family law, including custody and child support.
Attorney James Flaherty
Attorney James T. Flaherty practices Divorce & Family Law at Flaherty Legal Group in West Hartford, Connecticut. For information about Guardian Ad Litem services, you can contact Attorney Sandi Girolamo and Attorney Pam Magnano.


DIVORCE: Basics - What You Should Know

A dissolution of marriage is almost always upsetting and delicate in nature.  Every case is different and requires individual attention.  The general information in this informational post is presented to help you understand the court process and answer some questions you may already have.  We have posted four blog articles devoted to this assistive tool we call “Divorce: What You Should Know”.  In this first article, we will provide information about the “Basics”.  Please refer to the other articles in the series: Money, Parenting, and Process.  For more information, please feel free to contact Flaherty Legal Group, LLC. 
* Connecticut statutes use the legal term "dissolution of marriage" to mean divorce.  While the two terms may be used interchangeably in informal discussions, legal documents will use "dissolution of marriage".
* The only practical effect of Connecticut's "no‑fault" dissolution of marriage law is that it is now only necessary to prove that a marriage has broken down irretrievably to obtain a divorce.  However, other causes for the breakdown of a marriage, such as intolerable cruelty, habitual intemperance, or adultery, may be brought to the court's attention and may be considered by the court in determining the award of property and alimony, if any.  (See our article titled “10 Grounds for Divorce in Connecticut” for more information about causes that may be considered by the court.)
* Commencement Of Suit:  A dissolution of marriage action is started by one party filing with the court legal papers called a "summons" and a "complaint".  The party filing is called the "plaintiff" and the other party the "defendant."  Before filing the summons and complaint with the court, the plaintiff has these papers served on (delivered to) the defendant by a sheriff.
The summons tells the defendant that he or she is being sued for dissolution of marriage.  The summons also states a "return date", or date by which the defendant must file with the court an "appearance", which is a legal paper stating the name of the defendant's attorney or whether the defendant will act as his or her own attorney ("pro se").  It is not necessary for anyone to appear in court on the return date. 
The complaint states the date and place of the marriage, the number of minor children the parties have, the reason for the dissolution, and whether either of the parties has received state support.  The complaint also states the relief sought by the plaintiff, such as alimony, child support, custody and counsel fees.
Length Of Time To Finalize:  Connecticut law provides that ninety days must pass after the return date before a dissolution action can proceed to a final hearing.  Because the courts must process a great number of dissolution cases, the earliest a case can be heard is usually about four months from the date of the sheriff's service.
There are many other factors that may delay a case, especially when the parties cannot reach a settlement and it is necessary to have the court decide the custody of minor children, the division of property, the amount of support or alimony, and other matters.  Disputed cases often can take a year or longer to finalize. 
* Temporary Orders: After the lawsuit is started, either party may ask the court for orders which, if entered, will be in effect until the dissolution hearing.  These temporary orders are often called by their Latin name, "pendente lite," which means "during the litigation".
A party must file a motion with the court stating what pendente lite orders are sought.  A hearing will then be scheduled at which the parties must appear.  The court will rule on the motion after hearing argument and perhaps testimony.
The most common pendente lite orders are for custody of the children, alimony and/or support, and exclusive possession of the home.  These orders may be modified before the final hearing.  Failure to follow these orders will make a party liable to be charged with contempt of court.
* Automatic Orders: Effective October 1, 1997, automatic orders are entered in all family cases during the pendency of the action.  These orders shall apply to both parties.  The service of these automatic orders shall be made with the service of process of a complaint for dissolution of marriage, legal separation, annulment, custody of visitation.  The automatic orders shall be effective with regard to the plaintiff upon the signing of the complaint and with regard to the defendant upon service and shall remain in place during the pendency of the action, unless terminated, modified or amended by further order of the court  upon motion of either of the parties. 

Please continue to the other sections of this four-part informational blog series titled “Divorce: What You Should Know”.  Other sections include: Money, “Parenting, and The Process

Attorney James Flaherty of Flaherty Legal Group in West Hartford, CT practices divorce and family law and can help guide you through divorce.
Attorney James Flaherty
Attorney James T. Flaherty practices Divorce and Family Law with Attorneys Pamela Magnano and Sandi Girolamo at Flaherty Legal Group in West Hartford, Connecticut.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Ten Grounds For Divorce In Connecticut

In Connecticut, you only need to prove an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage to obtain a divorce.  In the event you wish to allege another ground, there are ten (10) grounds for divorce listed in Connecticut General Statutes §46b-40.  These ten grounds are:
1. Irretrievable breakdown of marriage;
2. Living apart due to incompatibility for a continuous period of 18 months and there is no prospect of reconciliation;
3. Adultery;
4. Fraudulent contract;
5. Willful desertion for one year;
6. Seven years’ absence;
7. Habitual intemperance;
8. Intolerable cruelty;
9. Sentence to imprisonment for life or the commission of any infamous crime involving a violation of conjugal duty and punishable by imprisonment for a period in excess of one year;
10. Legal confinement in a hospital or institution because of mental illness.
The court may enter a dissolution of a marriage upon a finding that any of the above has occurred.

For a general overview about divorce, please refer to our four part series of articles on the Flaherty Legal Group Blog titled "DIVORCE: Basics - Money - Process - Parenting".  

Attorney James Flaherty of Flaherty Legal Group and Attorneys Pamela Magnano and Sandi Girolamo practice divorce and family law in West Hartford, CT
Attorney Pamela Magnano practices Divorce and Family Law with Attorney James Flaherty 
and Attorney Sandi Girolamo at Flaherty Legal Group in West Hartford, CT.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Same Sex Marriage and The US Supreme Court

The United States Supreme Court heard arguments this week on two cases involving same sex marriages.  These cases deal with the rights and benefits of same sex couples to wed and receive benefits.  It is anticipated that the Supreme Court will make a ruling on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) which legally defines a spouse as a person of the opposite sex.  (1 U.S.C.A. § 7).  Under DOMA, federal protections and provisions such as Social Security, bankruptcy benefits, and family medical leave protections do not apply to same sex couples.  This is true even if the state in which the couple resides allows for same sex marriage.  One of the cases being heard involves a lesbian woman challenging the fact that she had to pay more in estate taxes when her spouse died because the marriage was not recognized under DOMA even though their home state of New York recognized the marriage.  (See United States v. Edith SchlainWindsor, In Her Capacity as Executor of the Estate of Thea Clara Spyer, et al.SC Docket No. 12-307).  The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals determined that DOMA is unconstitutional and violates the equal protection clause.  
The second case before the Supreme Court deals with California’s Proposition 8 which bans same sex marriage.  (See Dennis Hollingsworth, et al., v. Kristin M. Perry, et al. SCDocket No. 12-144).  The issue before the Court is whether the Constitution's guarantee of equal protection prevents states from refusing marriage to a defined class of people.  The ruling of the high Court on this issue could impact laws all across the United States.  In the United States, nine states allow same sex marriage. See a breakdown of the numbers provided by CNN.  Connecticut is among the nine states that do allow same sex marriage.
Attorney Pamela Magnano practices divorce and family law with Attorney James T. Flaherty at Flaherty Legal Group in West Hartford, Connecticut
Attorney Pamela Magnano practices divorce and family law at Flaherty Legal Group in West Hartford, CT with Attorney James Flaherty and Attorney Sandi Girolamo

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Alternatives to Litigation: Mediation and Arbitration

The divorce process does not have to resemble the movie “War of the Roses”.  Today, there are alternatives to divorce that promote a more conciliatory process than traditional litigation.

Mediation is a process by which both parties meet with a mediator to try to resolve their differences amicably.  The mediator is a neutral, trained professional that will attempt to assist the parties in resolving all issues including but not limited to custody, support, and asset division.  During mediation, each party is entitled and encouraged to review agreements with his/her own independent legal counsel.  A benefit to mediation is that parties can reduce their legal fees by not spending tireless hours at the courthouse fighting over the issues that could be addressed through mediation.  Additionally, because mediation promotes problem-solving and not litigating, this process is beneficial for the entire family, including the children.  Finally, mediating a divorce allows the parties to retain control over what happens in their case rather than leaving these life changing decisions to a Judge.

Another alternative to traditional litigation is collaboration.  In collaboration, both parties agree not to go to Court and agree to disclose all information that is relevant to the divorce.  Both parties are represented by counsel and that representation will terminate if the collaborative process fails and either party begins court proceedings.  In addition to counsel, the parties may jointly engage mental health professionals, financial consultants or other experts as needed.  Similar to the role of the attorney, the engagement of these experts would terminate if collaboration failed.  The collaborative process allows the parties to receive the support of trained professionals without the adversity of litigation.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Did you know? Same Sex Marriage

Same sex marriages are treated differently than heterosexual marriages.  The State of Connecticut recognizes these marriages and affords same sex spouses the same privileges as heterosexual spouses when it comes to medical benefits, retirement benefits and taxes.  However, the Federal Government does not apply the same standards as the State of Connecticut.  This difference means that additional paperwork may need to be prepared in order for you to have protections while married.  Also, in the event of divorce, there are many traps and consequences that can occur if you are not careful.
See more of Attorney Magnano's coverage on same sex marriage by clicking here.
Attorney Pamela Magnano practices divorce and family law with Attorney James Flaherty at Flaherty Legal Group in West Hartford, Connecticut.  She blogs about topics including same sex marriage.
Attorney Pamela Magnano practices family law with Attorneys James Flaherty and Sandi Girolamo at Flaherty Legal Group in West Hartford, Connecticut. The firm provides legal counsel for most family law matters.  If you have questions or are seeking legal counsel pertaining to same sex marriage, please contact us at (860)-904-2034.


The practice of family law has changed significantly due to changes in technology.  The practitioner that once had to spend hours in the library researching issues can now have multiple information sources at the touch of a button.  Today, most law offices have a web-based legal research program.  Two common programs are provided by Westlaw and LexisNexis.  However, the practitioner can also access cases through the State of Connecticut Judicial Website and the Connecticut Bar Association WebsiteFlaherty Legal Group utilizes these search engines to provide its clients with the most up to date case law for every issue impacting family law.  Because of these tools, our attorneys can more quickly and efficiently find effective information.  Our clients benefit from quality research that is more cost effective.

Attorney Pamela Magnano and Flaherty Legal Group utilize the technological resources available to their practice which include Westlaw and Lexis Nexis.

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

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Attorney Pamela Magnano and the Children's Law Center

Attorney Pamela M. Magnano serves on the Board of Directors for the Children’s Law Center of Connecticut (“CLC”).  In addition to being a member of the Board of Directors, Attorney Magnano also serves as co-chair for the CLC’s annual Gala. 

Attorney Pamela Magnano sits on the board of directors of the Children's Law Center in Connecticut.  The Children’s Law Center is the only organization in the state that provides legal advocates to indigent children in contentious family court cases.  The staff attorneys for the CLC take on cases that are complex and high conflict.  The CLC strives to make family life as safe and stable as possible for the children they represent.  In addition to the staff attorneys, the CLC utilizes a mental health professional to appropriately address any mental health issues.  The services offered by the Children’s Law Center ensure that many children who might not have a voice, will be heard.

Attorney Pamela Magnano sits on the board of directors of the Children's Law Center.  Attorney James Flaherty and Flaherty Leagl Group support the Children's Law Center and it work in advocating for children.
Attorney Pamela Magnano
In addition to representation, the CLC also runs the Families In Transitions program.  This program is a mediation program that provides conflict resolution to parents with custody and parenting disputes.  This program is one of the only programs affordable to low income families in need of assistance.  The program utilizes a male/female team approach with an attorney and a mental health professional.  Both Attorney Magnano and Attorney Sandi Girolamo are volunteer mediators with this program.

The CLC also offers the Law Line, which is a legal resource for any person who needs assistance with legal issues relating to children regardless of income level.  The Law Line provides an invaluable resource to those who do not know how to maneuver the Court system and may need guidance.

Lastly, the CLC actively participates in ongoing advocacy efforts at the state level for issues involving children.

2013 marks the 20th Anniversary for the CLC and the CLC has many different events being planned to celebrate this momentous occasion.  Please check back with us to learn more about these events.

Attorney Pamela M. Magnano practices Divorce and Family Law at Flaherty Legal Group in West Hartford, CT with Attorneys Sandi B. Girolamo and James T. Flaherty.