Judiciary Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

HB-6688

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING REVISIONS TO STATUTES RELATING TO THE AWARD OF ALIMONY.

Vote Date:

4/12/2013

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

4/5/2013

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Judiciary Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

The bill is the result of recommendations by an alimony working group consisting of representatives from the Connecticut Bar Association Family Law Section, the Connecticut Chapter of the Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, the Connecticut Women's Educational and Legal Fund (CWEALF) and other groups. The legislation seeks to update current Connecticut alimony statutes so that they become fairer and address updates in State legislation, such as the existence of same-sex marriage in Connecticut.

SUBSTITUTE LANGUAGE:

The substitute language makes articulation a requirement for all lifetime alimony orders.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

State of Connecticut Judicial Branch External Affairs Commission, The Honorable Elliot N. Solomon: Supports this bill. Judge Solomon explained many of the updates made in the bill (such as having the statutes reflect that same-sex marriage exists in Connecticut). He believes that the bill will help make current statutes fairer and would address many of their flaws. The Judge also highlighted the recommendation of the working group that the bill should include a requirement for articulation for all lifetime alimony orders. This recommendation was addressed in the substitute language.

Permanent Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW), Teresa C. Younger, Executive Director: Supports this bill. The bill calls for a study into the fairness and adequacy of current Connecticut alimony statutes. Ms. Younger believes that such a study is an essential step in guaranteeing that appropriate changes are made to the alimony structure, and therefore encourages passage of the bill.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Connecticut Bar Association, Family Law Section, Arnold H. Rutkin: Supports this bill. Mr. Rutkin believes that the legislation makes justifiable changes to current statute, and that there is little controversy regarding the changes. He is also in strong support of the committee to study awards of alimony proposed by the bill as such an in-depth study has not been done in over 30 years.

American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), Sarah Stark Oldham: Supports this bill. Attorney Stark Oldham states that the legislation is straightforward, and makes appropriate updates to current statutes. She strongly supports the provision for a Legislative Program Review and Investigations Committee that would conduct a study regarding alimony in Connecticut. Attorney Stark Oldham opines that such a study is the best way for state legislators to determine what is the best course for alimony statutes and procedures.

Connecticut Women's Educational and Legal Fund (CWEALF), Amy Miller: Supports this bill. She supports the fact that the legislation seeks to make educated statute changes by executing a study about alimony in the State. Ms. Miller recommends that tax consequences should be added to the list of factors for consideration when determining an alimony award, and addition of language that would improve transparency within the court.

The Shared Parenting Council of Connecticut (SPC), John M Clapp: Supports this bill as it corrects some of the sexist language in the statutes.

Legal Assistance Resource Center of Connecticut, Inc., Raphael L. Podolsky: Supports this bill. He opines that the bill would modernize Connecticut alimony statutes and mandates and a beneficial alimony study. Mr. Podolsky does have concerns with Section 6 of the bill, which repeals a current statute that allows for a motion to modify and a motion for contempt to be heard at the same time. He thinks that this statute helps to avoid unnecessary jail time and economizes judicial time. Mr. Podolsky recommends the deletion of Section 6 unless there is another statute that imposes the same rule.

Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Liza Andrews: Supports section 5 of this bill. Ms. Andrews believes that the section, which calls for a Legislative Program Review and Investigations Committee to study alimony in the state, would help lawmakers make better educated decisions regarding alimony law and would result in better legislation.

David W. Griffin, Attorney: Supports this bill. He believes that the bill's most important aspect is the study of alimony that the bill mandates and agrees with the proposed statute updates.

Frank Maturo: Supports this bill. He concurs with the updates proposed by the bill, but would have liked to see further changes. Mr. Maturo also recommends the addition of language that would move Connecticut towards the elimination of lifetime alimony.

Lane L. Marmon, Attorney: Supports this bill and testifies as a female member of the CT Bar Association and Family Law Section. Attorney Marmon thinks that the legislation includes beneficial changes to existing family law statutes, and believes that the research proposed by the bill is necessary before executing further changes. She also believes that the articulation offered by the bill would help individuals better understand the basis for an award.

Shirley M. Pripstein, Attorney: Supports this bill and testifies on behalf of Greater Hartford Legal Aid. Attorney Pripstein believes that Legislative Program Review and Investigations Committee study put forth by the bill is a sensible approach to changing Connecticut Statutes regarding alimony.

Charles Crenshaw: Supports this bill as a Bloomfield constituent. Despite this, Mr. Crenshaw does not believe that the bill adequately addresses the issue of lifetime alimony. He thinks that legislators should be aware that this issue needs to be studied in the Legislative Program Review and Investigative Committee should the bill pass.

Jennifer Verraneault, Guardian Ad Litem: Supports this bill and is an East Haven constituent. Ms. Verraneault highlights her experience as a Guardian Ad Litem in addressing problems in the family law system.

C. Ian McLachlan: Supports this bill and testifies that prior to his judicial career, he spent 26 years practicing primarily in the area of matrimonial law. Citing this experience, Judge McLachlan agreed with the changes that this legislation makes to current statutes and also added his support for the alimony study proposed by the bill.

Jerry Mastrangelo: Supports this bill and is an East Haven constituent. Mr. Mastrangelo thinks that the family law system is broken and that this bill would a positive step in fixing the system.

Susan Kammler: Supports this bill and is a New Canaan constituent. Ms. Kammler opines that the bill will greatly benefit CT alimony statutes as a result of its inclusion of a study regarding alimony.

Edith F. McClure: Supports this bill and testified as a retired attorney in private practice in the area of family law. She remains active in the CBA and continues to serve on the Executive Committee of the Family Law Section. Ms. McClure believes that the bill makes positive changes to current statutes and strongly supports the alimony study set forth in the legislation.

Colleen S. Bushby: Supports this bill and testifies as a Small Business and Life Coach who works primarily with divorced women. Ms. Busby feels that this bill addresses issues related to alimony far better than any other proposed bill. This is due in large part to the Legislative Program Review and Investigative Committee put forth in the bill that would study alimony in the state. She also agrees with the proposed statute changes. She does suggest that language be included in the bill that would create greater understanding of alimony awards by asking the court to specify a basis for all such awards.

Michael E. Cassello: Supports this bill and a Wallingford constituent. Mr. Cassello states that this bill will modernize current statutes. He also hopes that it will begin to help fix a broken family law system.

Daniel M. Lynch: Supports this bill and is a constituent in Trumbull. Mr. Lynch thinks that the bill positively updates out-of-date statutes.

T. Van Ess: Supports this bill and is a New Canaan constituent. Van Ess is especially supportive of the alimony study proposed by the legislation.

L. Rutkowski: Supports this bill due to the study regarding alimony stipulated by the legislation.

Peter T. Szymonik: Supports this bill and is a constituent in Berlin. Mr. Szymonik described his experience with the CT family court system. He explained how the dysfunction of the system devastated him financially and did not work in the best interest of his children. He believes that this bill, in addition to other proposed bills would begin to help improve Connecticut's family law system.

Lorri Cavaliere: Supports this bill. Ms. Cavaliere witnessed the many issues with the state's family court system as she supported her friend, Jerry Mastrangelo, through his highly publicized custody battle. Along with others testifying, she claimed that the court did not have the children's best interests in mind, and was more concerned about certain bills being paid on-time. Ms. Cavaliere thinks that the family court legislation being proposed is “the right thing to do for all of our children.”

Timothy Gelling: Supports this bill and is a Fairfield constituent. Mr. Gelling went through the family court system through his divorce and custody cases. He soon became disillusioned with the system and explains how his situation is not unique. He believes that the lives of children impacted by divorce and custody disputes would be bettered by family court reform.

Gian Simko: Supports this bill. Ms. Simko explains that as a family member of Jerry Mastangelo, she has seen the dysfunction of the family court system first hand. From Guardian Ad Litems who are paid exorbitant fees but do not look out for the best interest of children to cases that are long and arduous, she has seen the worst and insists that reform be made that would make the family court system look out for children's best interests.

Howard S. Cooper: Commented on the Bill. Relating to his own experience with lifetime alimony awards, Mr. Cooper asks why H.B. 6688 cannot be more proscriptive and less prescriptive. He believes that if the bill was more proscriptive in terms of lifetime alimony awards, it would address deficiencies in such circumstances.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

None Submitted

Reported by: Kaitlin Faticoni

Date: 4/12/2013