chalumeaulawgroupchalumeaulawgroup Signs Divorce Mediation Is Not For You]]>Alicia Chalumeau, 02 Feb 2017 04:44:08 +0000
The process of mediating a divorce can be a great alternative to traditional divorce litigation. For many, a private process that allows them to work through complex financial and child custody issues can be appealing. For others, the financial benefit of mediation which eliminates costly motion practice and costly attorney’s fees are enough to convince them to give mediation a try. Unfortunately, all the benefits aside, mediation is simply not a one size fits all solution to every divorce action. More and more litigants are approaching mediation not as a true alternative to litigation, but a prerequisite to traditional litigation. As a result, they are surprised when the process doesn’t produce the desired result. Mediation is a process that works best when both parties are prepared to communicate, are open and honest about their finances, and are open to negotiating for the sake of compromise. If you are considering mediation, here are three signs that divorce mediation may not be the best method to resolve the issues in your divorce. 1. Failure to provide full financial disclosure
The mediation process is designed to assist parties who desire a fair and reasonable division of their assets. The expedited aspect of the process eliminates discovery litigation and relies on the parties to be open and honest about their income, expenses, assets and liabilities. If you suspect your spouse may not be willing to be open and honest about their finances, perhaps divorce mediation is not the best route for resolution of your divorce.
2. Abuse or intimidation in your relationship
The ability to communicate one’s desires and concerns is the cornerstone of the mediation process. In relationships where there is abuse or one party is intimidated by the other, the abused spouse may not have ability to effectively advocate for themselves. While the mediator may be aware of the one sided nature of the process, he/she must remain neutral and cannot advocate for either party’s best interest. The mediator’s sole purpose is to obtain an agreement. If you feel as though you cannot effectively advocate on your own behalf, then mediation is not for you.
3. The other party simply does not want a divorce
If your spouse is completely adverse to obtaining a divorce, mediation may not be best for you. Mediation is successful when the parties can at least agree that the marriage must end, and genuinely desire a divorce. If your spouse is hesitant to end the marriage, he/she may treat the mediation process as an attempt to resolve the issues of the marriage versus an attempt to resolve the issues of the divorce.
If you are currently involved in the mediation process and you are unsure if the process is working, or you would like advice as to your rights on the substantive issues in your divorce, please contact our office for an initial consultation to review your options.
Discovery & Admissibility of Facebook & Other Social Media Data]]>Alicia Chalumeau, 01 Feb 2017 02:46:00 +0000
As individuals are posting more and more of their personal day-to-day thoughts, whereabouts, and photographs on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, it should come as no surprise that lawyers are turning to the internet to mine this data to assist them in preparation for litigation. However, both obtaining and admitting this information into evidence is proving a challenging task. Attorneys wishing to obtain information in the form of photographs, status updates, wall posts and messages are faced with the challenge of privacy concerns, and authenticating the information once received. Similarly, judges who aren’t familiar with the functionality of social media are faced with the challenge of applying archaic evidentiary rules to this modern fast moving technology.
When it comes to obtaining an individual’s social media history through discovery, New York courts have found that the information obtained from social networking sites are at a minimum discoverable. In an August 2011 decision, Romano v. Steelcase, Inc., Judge Spinner of the New York Supreme Court, Suffolk County, ordered a plaintiff to turn over the contents of her Facebook and Myspace pages to the defendant after the court found that the information contained in the pages were both material and necessary to the defendant’s defense of the action. The court weighed the plaintiff’s privacy concerns versus the defendant’s need for the information and found that the plaintiff’s privacy concerns were outweighed by the fact that her social networking information contained certain information inconsistent with her claims regarding the nature of her injuries, and loss of enjoyment of her life.
On the other hand, Connecticut attorneys are facing an uphill evidentiary battle when faced with the admissibility of social media content. The Connecticut Appellate Court in State v. Eleck 23 A.3d 818, 130 Conn.App. 632 (Conn.App. 2011) imposed a high bar for a party seeking to admit this type of evidence. In Eleck, the defendant who was charged with assault attempted to impeach a witness who testified against him. According to the witness, she had not communicated with the defendant since the assault; however, to impeach her testimony the defense offered facebook messages to show she had indeed communicated with the defendant. The witness then claimed that she did not author the messages as her facebook page had been hacked and she was not able to gain access. Based on the witnesses’ denial the court found that the defense had not adequately authenticated the messages pursuant to the Connecticut Code of Evidence §9-1, thus they were inadmissible.
As it stands, the current standard imposed by the Eleck court requires a showing that both: (1) the evidence originated from a particular social media account, as well as (2) providing additional authenticating facts to prove the authorship of the information. The standard will no doubt prove difficult for attorneys seeking to admit evidence from social networking sites as they may not be privy to additional facts to authenticate the authorship. One solution would be the implementation of a new evidentiary rule which shifts the burden to the party denying authorship to refute the data’s authenticity.
Divorce in Connecticut: The Case Management Date]]>, 30 Jan 2017 04:52:00 +0000
If you are in the process of filing, or have just been served with a divorce complaint in Connecticut, you may find yourself inundated with documents which contain language that might as well be written in a foreign language. However, it is important that all litigants are aware of certain key dates in the divorce process. One of the those dates is the case management date (this date can generally be found at the top of the summons, as well as in the body of the Notice of Automatic Court Orders), and what you do between the filing/service of the complaint and case management date may very well dictate how quickly your divorce will be completed.
Connecticut imposes a 90 day “cooling off period” from the filing of an action for divorce before the court may grant the parties a divorce. This 90-day period can be very useful for negotiating the terms of the divorce or narrowing the issues for trial. At the end of this 90-day period the parties will have to appear before the court at a mandatory conference. This conference occurs on what is called the case management date. If the parties reached an agreement during the 90-day waiting period, they can obtain a divorce as early as that day, or schedule a date in the future. However, if the parties are unable to reach an agreement, the court will require them to appear in court on the case management date to file several documents including: (1) a signed case management agreement (an agreement between the parties that sets agreed deadlines for the completion of discovery, taking of depositions, and sets a date for a pretrial conference), (2) both parties’ financial affidavits, and if children are in involved in the case, (3) a signed parenting agreement.
If you are unable to attend court on your case management date, you should alert both the other party and the court immediately. However, generally the court will not grant a continuance of the case management date, so at least one party will have to appear before the court to deliver the documents outlined above, or deliver them to the court far enough in advance of the actual case management date. Failure to file all the required documents by the case management date may result in a dismissal of the case.
All litigants are encouraged to consult with an attorney before entering into any agreements; however, if your divorce fits into either of the following categories: (1) involves children, (2) involves the division of property (especially real estate, or retirement assets), (3) or has special circumstances such as a prenuptial agreement or your marriage occurred in a foreign jurisdiction, it is highly recommended that you consult with a divorce attorney as soon as possible to protect your interests and to complete your divorce in the most efficient manner possible.
Connecticut Uncontested Divorce Documents Checklist]]>Alicia Chalumeau, 28 Jan 2017 04:48:00 +0000
In Connecticut, once you and your spouse have reached an agreement that provides for the allocation of your assets, distribution of your debts, and for the custody and support of your child(ren), you may request that the court schedule an uncontested divorce trial. If you are represented by an attorney, he/she will gather all the appropriate paperwork and help you prepare for the uncontested trial. If, however, you are self-represented, it is important that you prepare all the documents the court will require in advance of the uncontested date in order to proceed as quickly as possible. Below is a list of the standard uncontested documents required by the Connecticut Superior Court in order to grant your divorce. Additional documents may be necessary, so be sure to check with your local clerk’s office in advance of your uncontested dissolution date.
Divorce Agreement (Form: JD-FM-172): The court requires a written agreement signed by the parties which reflects all aspects of the parties’ agreement regarding allocation of assets, distribution of debts and liabilities, etc.
Financial Affidavits (Form: JD-FM-6): Both parties are required to file financial affidavits on the date of the uncontested dissolution trial. The financial affidavits must be signed and sworn to, and must be dated within the last thirty (30) days.Dissolution of Marriage Report (Form: JD-FM-181): The Dissolution of Marriage Report (sometimes referred to as the “health form”) is required in every divorce. The form requests certain statistical information from the parties, and is forwarded to the Connecticut Bureau of Vital Statistics.Affidavit Concerning Military Service (Form JD-FM-178): If you are the plaintiff in the divorce action and your spouse has not filed an appearance with the court, you must complete the Military Service Affidavit attesting that your spouse is not on active duty. In order to verify active duty military status or please visit the Department of Defense Website.Wage Withholding For Support (Form-JD-FM-1): If your agreement calls for support payments (alimony, child support, etc.), and you wish to have the support payments deducted directly from your spouse’s paycheck, you must complete the Wage Withholding Form.
For Connecticut divorces where minor children are involved, these additional forms are necessary:
Affidavit Concerning Children (Form JD-FM-164): If there are minor children of the marriage, the court will require you to complete this form providing the necessary information regarding each child.
Child Support Guidelines Worksheet (Form JD-FM-220): Even if your agreement calls for the waiver of child support orders this form must be completed so long as there are minor children of the marriage.Certificate of Completion of Parenting Education Program: Connecticut law mandates that both parents involved in a divorce where there are minor children participate in the state Parenting Education Program. The court will require a certificate of completion for each parent proving they have completed the course.Advisement of Rights Re: Income Withholding (Form JD-FM-71): Whether you are enforcing or waiving your right to an immediate income withholding order, this form must be completed if your agreement calls for the payment of child support.