What is a Lis Pendens and Why Do I Need One?

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What is a Lis Pendens and Why Do I Need One? By Regina WexlerClients often ask, “What the heck is a lis pendens and why do we have to do it?”

Lis pendens is a Latin term meaning “litigation pending.” It’s a notice filed on land records in a town where a party has an interest in real estate, after any type of lawsuit, including a divorce action, is served. The purpose of a lis pendens is to put the world on notice that an interest in a property may be subject to distribution by the court. It’s a form of attachment of real property.  Continue reading

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Limited Scope Representation: “Unbundling” of Legal Services

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Regina Wexler - Limited Scope Representation: "Unbundling" of Legal ServicesAs of October 1, 2013, the State of Connecticut has launched a pilot program in the family courts to determine whether hiring an attorney on a limited basis is feasible (e.g., for custody or alimony hearings, depositions and/or settlement conferences).

Limited scope representation is defined by the state as a situation where an attorney represents or assists a party with part, but not all, of his or her legal matter. The party and the attorney are required to execute an engagement letter pinpointing which aspects of the case the attorney will and will not handle.

I believe the goal of limited scope representation to be three-fold: Continue reading

Come to Court with Clean Hands

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Regina Wexler - Come to Court with Clean HandsIn law, there is a concept called the “clean hands” doctrine. It requires that, when seeking equitable relief from the court, one party cannot request help from the court if their own behavior in the matter has been negative.


Equitable relief is when a party asks the court to order another party to either do something, or prevent a party from doing something.

When people see that their spouse may or may not be following the judge’s rulings to the letter, it can be very frustrating, yet my advice is always the same: “Take the high road. No matter what, take the high road.” Whether the action complained of is worth bringing to the court’s attention via a Motion for Contempt or not, ultimately, having clean hands preserves your credibility in court.

Case Study: Continue reading

File the Complaint, or Wait?

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When divorcing, one of the first hurdles a client must overcome is deciding whether to immediately file the complaint for divorce, or to wait until his or her spouse can be made aware of the intent to divorce. While this choice can only be made by the client, there are pros and cons with both options.

Wexler - File the Complaint or Wait?Case Study:

A husband decides to file for divorce. Not wanting the divorce process to become a battle with his wife, he informs her of his intent. The following morning as he heads to work, where he plans to contact his attorney upon arrival, the wife is already packing up the kids to head to her mother’s home three states away – outside the jurisdiction of the Connecticut courts – but not before emptying the personal safety deposit box and bank account on her way out of town.

In Connecticut, automatic orders are attached to every complaint for divorce, effective upon being signed by the Plaintiff and being served to the Defendant. Instituted by the Court, these orders aim to maintain the status quo – legally and financially – while the divorce case is pending. Continue reading

Divorce in Connecticut: Initiating the Dissolution Action

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Regina Wexler - Divorce in Connecticut: Initiating the Dissolution Action When divorcing in Connecticut, the ‘how’ and ‘when’ of filing a divorce complaint are dependent upon the method for obtaining the divorce. Whether through mediation, collaborative divorce or litigation, each process requires that a divorce complaint be filed with the court.

The type of divorce process and desired filing date which best suit a client’s situation is determined in the initial meeting. In mediation, the process may be delayed until the client’s spouse can join and contribute to the conversation. Some clients choose to start negotiations first and decide at a subsequent meeting when to file the complaint. Some wish to begin the process immediately.

In Connecticut, all divorce filings experience a “statutory stay” – a 90-day waiting period until a divorce can become finalized. The statutory stay begins not from the date the complaint is signed, but from the “return date.” Continue reading

Preparing for Your Initial Divorce Consultation

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Regina Wexler - Preparing for Your Initial Divorce ConsultationWhen preparing for divorce – whether you’re thinking of mediation, a collaborative process, or you feel that litigation is your only option – the first step is the same. Get ready and take the first step by consulting with an attorney- but come to your meeting prepared.

Check the Mediation Checklist.

Regardless of the type of divorce process you eventually choose, the Checklist will spur ideas about issues that will need to be resolved, and what kind of information you will need to provide to me as your attorney in order to get the best advice and outcome.

Presenting these documents at your initial consultation (or sending them to me in advance) will help us get started and assess your situation: Continue reading

Divorce in Connecticut: Everyone Loses the Blame Game

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Regina Wexler - Divorce in Connecticut: Everyone loses the Blame GameIn Connecticut, fault matters, but not as much as clients think it should!  Connecticut is a no-fault divorce state. This means that a married person doesn’t have to prove fault in order to get a divorce. In Connecticut, a married person only has to allege that his or her marriage has irretrievably broken down with no hope of reconciliation and that person can get divorced. Sometimes a spouse doesn’t want to be divorced, for religious or other reasons. Divorce will still be granted as a matter of right, as the separation of church and state in Connecticut is very clear. Continue reading

Electronically Stored Information – The New “Smoking Gun”

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Electronically Stored Information - The New “Smoking Gun”The new ways in which we communicate in the 21st century have presented our society with a brand new set of challenges that affect all areas of our lives – especially our legal affairs. Where a private investigator may have once spent nights out in the street taking pictures, now the incriminating evidence is voluntarily shared across social networks.

Electronically Stored Information has become the new “smoking gun” of many divorces. 

Case Study: A married couple decides on a divorce. Part of the wife’s argument for why she should have full custody of the children is her husband’s chronic drinking. He claims he has quit drinking. On Facebook, she comes across a picture one of his friends took showing him guzzling beer, dated recently. Additionally, Geo-tracking on the husband’s friend’s phone tagged the picture with his exact location, and it was somewhere he wasn’t supposed to be.

This picture may become evidence to be used in the divorce proceedings.

Continue reading

What Not To Wear In Court

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Bad at heart knife and banner tattoo illustrationRecent unfortunate observations in our local courthouses mandate that I devote a few blogs to court etiquette.  In the “old days” (I’ve been an attorney for 26 years, so I’ve earned the right to reminisce), I would advise clients to dress for court appearances like they would dress for church. Well, evidently many of my clients belonged to some pretty darned wild churches!  Now, I try to be more specific, and every week, some new surprising outfit makes me add to this list. This unisex list applies to litigants, witnesses, and attorneys (you know who you are!):

  1. No cleavage

  2. No yoga pants

  3. No visible tattoos Continue reading

Spousal Support Reform in Connecticut

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Spousal Support Reform in Connecticut A lawsuit has recently been filed in federal court challenging Connecticut’s spousal support laws. Governor Malloy has been named as Defendant against a group of four anonymous plaintiffs – one each from Middlesex, Hartford, Fairfield and Middletown counties – who claim the state’s spousal support scheme is unconstitutional.

Representing the “John Doe” plaintiffs is Martin Karlinsky, a constitutional law expert, who argues that Connecticut’s spousal support awards – traditionally known as “alimony” – are arbitrary, varying wildly from county to county and judge to judge.

In Connecticut:

  • A judge can award anywhere from zero spousal support to spousal support for life.
  • A judge may award anywhere from 0 to 100% of the marital assets to either party. Continue reading