Bakes Law, LLC specializes in the following domestic matters: 

Custody & Visitation

Relocation

Grandparent's Rights

Pre/Postnuptial Agreements

LGBT Rights

 

Alimony

Modifications

Father's Rights

Domestic Partnerships

Reproductive Law

 

Divorce

Child Support

Establishing Paternity

Legal Separation

Adoption

Divorce

A divorce, officially called "Dissolution of Marriage", is the process by which couples untangle their familial and financial ties. A divorce can take as little as three months or more than a year to complete. Each case is individualized based on your situation.

Elements may include:

 

  • grounds for divorce (fault/no-fault)

  • asset and debt division,

  • custody and parenting plans,

  • child support,

  • alimony,

  • college education,

  • insurance and

  • tax issues

 

We know your rights within your jurisdiction, and we'll make sure your future is secure.

Custody & Visitation

Custody orders in Connecticut are based upon the best interests of the child involved. Parents can reach their own agreements about custody and visitation as long as their agreement serves the child’s best interests. 

 

Physical vs. Legal Custody

 

Physical custody means that the parent has the right to “physically” live with the child. In other words, the parent that has physical custody determines where the child will live. When the child spends a significant amount of time living at each parent’s home, even if the amount is not equal, it is considered a “joint custody” plan. An example of a joint custody relationship is where the child spends four nights per week at one parent’s house and three nights per week at the other parent’s house.

 

Legal custody means that the parent has the power to make major decisions regarding the child’s welfare, including educational, medical and religious. Connecticut courts generally award joint legal custody, meaning both parents share this decision-making power. Even where one parent is awarded sole physical custody of the child, Connecticut courts prefer joint legal custody unless there are circumstances making it nearly impossible to share joint legal custody, such as abuse.

 

 

 

Modifications

When the circumstances of your life have undergone major changes in the months and years following your divorce, the terms of the divorce orders or child support may become impossible or overly burdensome. Fortunately, it is sometimes possible to obtain a formal modification to these orders in order to accommodate the changes and make your life easier.

 

On the same token, a substantial increase in the non-custodial parent's income (more than 10%) might trigger a child support or alimony modifiication. Also, a substantial increase in the child’s needs, including medical expenses, educational expenses, age-related expenses, or cost-of-living increases can modify the amount of support. 

 

Establishing Paternity

Paternity simply means "the state of being a father." Paternity establishment is the process of determining the legal father of a child. Every child has a biological father, but if the parents are not married, the child has no legal father, and the biological father has no rights or responsibilities to the child. In order for the biological father to be the legal father, the parents must establish paternity for the child. By establishing paternity for the child, the parents are ensuring that the child has the same rights and benefits as children born to married parents. 

 

The child receives both emotional and financial benefits from paternity establishment, such as:

 

  • Having the father's name on the birth certificate.

  • Medical or life insurance from either parent, if available.

  • Information about family medical history

  • Financial support from both parents, including

    • Social Security

    • Veterans benefits

    • Inheritance rights, and

    • Child support

Grandparent's Rights

When your relationship with your grandchild is severed by the child's parent, sometimes you, as a grandparent, can request rights of visitation. This provides the grandparent with the ability to spend time with the grandchild on a reasonable and agreed-upon schedule. The family law courts in Connecticut have ruled that when a third-party, such as a grandparent, seeks visitation, that party must show that the relationship between the third-party and the child is similar to a parent-child relationship and that the denial of visitation would cause real and significant harm to the child.

 

Domestic Partnerships

Connecticut's Domestic Partnership Ordinance allows persons in committed relationships who meet the criteria established by the Ordinance as constituting domestic partners to register for domestic partnership status. To be domestic partners, you and your partner must reside together, be in a relationship of mutual support, caring and commitment, be 18 or over, be competent to create a contract, and consider yourselves to be a family. Neither of you can be married to anyone, and neither of you can have a different domestic partner. You cannot be related to your partner as a parent, stepparent, child, stepchild, sister or brother, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, grandparent or grandchild, or any other relationship that would bar marriage. A domestic partnership is terminated two ways: by death of a domestic partner, or by voluntary termination by one or both domestic partners. 

Alimony

Alimony is money one spouse pays to the other for support during divorce proceedings and/or for some time following a final divorce. Alimony laws remain in place to ensure economic fairness; When a couple divorces after building a comfortable lifestyle together, a court may require the higher earner—whether the husband or the wife—to assist the lower earner in maintaining that lifestyle for at least some period of time.

 

In determining whether to make an award of alimony payments, the court will consider a number of different factors concerning the fairness of ordering either spouse to pay. Factors include:

 

  • the length of the marriage

  • each spouse’s age, health, and station in life

  • each spouse’s occupation, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, and employability

  • each spouse’s estate and needs

  • any award of child support benefitting either spouse

 

 

Child Support

Under state law, both parents have a responsibility to provide for the economic needs of their children. If you are a parent going through a divorce, or if you have never been married to your child’s other parent and have decided to end the relationship, you will need information about child support. In Connecticut, both parents, whether married or not, are obligated to support their children.

 

Connecticut follows the “Income Shares Model” which means that courts will estimate the amount parents would spend on children when both parents and children live together in one household (as if the family were still intact) and then divide this amount between the parents based on their incomes.

 

Judges in Connecticut refer to the current version of the Connecticut Child Support and Arrearage Guidelines to calculate child support payments. If either you or your child’s other parent have primary physical custody and the other has a fairly standard visitation schedule (alternating weekends and holidays, some vacation time, and possibly some additional short visits), you can estimate the noncustodial parent’s child support obligation by reviewing the guidelines.

Relocation

Court-ordered custody arrangements can work well for years, especially when both parents live in the same town. However, what happens when the custodial parent wants to move to another town, or out-of-state? What if the non-custodial parent opposes the move because he or she will lose precious visitation time with the child? Typically, a child can’t be removed from his state of residence without prior approval from the court that issued the original custody order. 

 

 If the custodial parent moves the minor child without court permission and against the non-custodial parent’s wishes, the court may sanction (punish) the custodial parent with orders of contempt, which can include fines and jail time.

 

Father's Rights

Historically, family law courts around the country placed a preference on the mother in terms of custody and visitation.

Most states no longer honor that presumption, however. (In fact, some states have passed laws stating that there is no custody preference for women over men.) Despite this change, mothers are still more likely to get custody when parents divorce. In Connecticut, the general standard used today is the custody award must be in the “best interests of the child." 

 

Fathers play just as important a role in child development, and Connecticut courts recognize this. If you are a divorcing dad, you should know some of the factors courts commonly consider in making this determination -- and what steps you can take to show your parenting skills. Whether you are trying to get joint physical custody, sole custody, or simply the most generous visitation with your child possible, you'll need to know what the judge will look at when deciding custody issues.  At Bakes Law LLC, we can explain the factors the court will consider in determining custody and help you try to prove that you would be the better (or an equally good) custodial parent.

 

 

Legal Separation

Couples who are unsure if they wish to remain married might consider a legal separation. An action for legal separation provides a means by which a husband and wife can divest themselves of the right and obligation of cohabitation.  A legal separation allows the parties to live apart, divide their debts and assets, and establish custody and support, while remaining married.   This is a perfect solution for couples that are not ready to be divorced,  as the possibility of reconciliation remains a viable alternative.  

 

 

Pre/Postnuptial Agreements 
 

As you and your future spouse prepare for upcoming nuptials, it is important to consider things in practical terms. It may be in your best interest, and the best interest of your future spouse, to prepare a pre-nuptial agreement setting out the terms of possession of assets, control of property, treatment of future earnings, and potential division of such if the marriage is dissolved.  We advocate that a prenuptial agreement be considered in the event that you or your spouse have substantial assets or debts, stake in a business, children from a prior marriage, potential inheritances, or if there is great disparity in income between the two of you.

 

On a related note, a postnuptial agreement is a written contract executed after a couple gets married to settle the couple’s affairs and assets in the event of a divorce. 

Adoption

Whether you are pregnant and considering adoption as a plan for your child or you are a prospective adoptive parent hoping to become a parent through adoption, there are many different decisions and options for you to consider. It is important that you understand how the adoption laws in Connecticut may affect your decisions. From open adoption, a closed adoption, an agency adoption or an international adoption, we are ready to help you navigate the legal process and avoid complications that could cause serious problems later on. 

 

Additionally, step-parent adoption is also an option for step-parents who want to legally adopt their spouse's child/children. The first and most difficult step in adopting a step child is terminating the parental rights of the biological mother or father.  In most cases, this requires their consent, unless the biological parent has died or is convicted of child abuse. In cases where the parent is involved in the child's life, such adoptions are nearly impossible.

 

When parental rights are terminated for the purpose of step-parent adoptions, the biological parent is no longer required to pay child support, and as the line of dissent is eliminated, the child has no claims on the estate of the biological parent. Moreover, the biological parent no longer has a legal right to visit the child and the adoptive parent takes on all of obligations, even if a divorce later occurs.

Reproductive Law

There are many reproductive rights and options afforded to a family who wishes to expand their family with a little outside help, including both anonymous and identified egg donor and donor insemination arrangements, gestational surrogacy and traditional forms of surrogacy, and embryo donation. Bakes Law LLC would advise clients considering these options about their legal rights and responsibilities, prepares and negotiates contracts for them, works with other responsible professionals providing services, and handles any administrative and court proceedings necessary to legally recognize these arrangements.

 

In addition to legal issues surrounding parentage, numerous other issues arise in any reproductive arrangement, such as liability, confidentiality, medical expenses and insurance, as well as long-term issues that may arise after a child is born.  

 

Legal advice from an attorney can help provide both intended parents and donors/surrogates with an understanding of potential legal risks involved in their reproductive arrangement as well as the safeguards that can be put in place to help minimize those risks.

 

LGBT Rights

Same-sex couples have the right to marry in Connecticut. Single gay people can adopt in Connecticut; same-sex couples can jointly become the legal parents of a child. For any of your legal domestic needs, we can help you navitage through a same-sex marriage, divorce, property division, and second-parent adoptions. 

 

Additionally, those who are gender nonconforming, transgender, or intersex have special concerns. Often, early in the process of transitioning, they need assistance and guidance in changing their name and government identification. Later, they will need help in changing their birth certificate once they undergo surgery.  We offer a welcoming and supportive environment for all your concerns and needs.