Alimony Reform in Connecticut

Like in New York, Massachusetts, Florida and New Jersey, an alimony reform grassroots organization is active in Connecticut who believe that “it’s time for the state to update its antiquated alimony laws for the 21st century.” Connecticut Alimony Reform (CTAR) adapted provisions and concepts from Massachusetts’ and New York’s new reform laws, supporting legislation that will “bring consistency, predictably and fairness to both parties and their children in this highly contentious area of family law.”

The group held a rally June 6 in Westport, Connecticut to highlight their proposals for alimony laws reform. A prominent Westport divorce lawyer, Arnold Rutkin, an opponent of a CTAR-backed bill introduced in the state Judiciary Committee in March appeared at the event, and despite their differences, were able to find a little common ground about problems in Connecticut’s family court system. “It’s a nightmare and it’s getting worse,” Rutkin remarked in a question and answer session with group members. He suggested a two year symposium to study alimony laws reform, which CTAR rejected, citing the “urgent need for alimony reform.”

“Our concerns [about reform] were heard loudly and clearly, and we have started vital conversations among legislators, lawyers, and ordinary citizens who get divorced every day in Connecticut,” a CTAR representative stated on the group’s website, “These conversations will continue, and, with your help, our membership and our public presence will keep growing in the weeks and months to come. We are hard at work developing the next stages of our strategy, in the meantime, thank you for joining us, and please continue to stay in touch with us as we all know how vital (necessary) reform is in our great state.”

“There are so many problems with Connecticut’s alimony laws, it’s hard to isolate one or two,” said CTAR board member Charles Crenshaw, 68, of Bloomfield, who divorced in 2003 and has attempted unsuccessfully to modify his permanent payments twice, being ready to retire and having a full-time working ex-wife. “The return trips to court are toxic for the entire family. It’s especially hard for children of divorce when parents return to court and do battle. The wounds never heal. This prolongs the pain of divorce.”

Following the precedent of Mass Alimony Reform (MAR), a grassroots organization that spearheaded the effort to revise Massachusetts’ antiquated alimony laws, CTAR has taken the lead in advancing the need for structure, predictability, and consistency in alimony awards and in modifications, when parties return to court long after divorce in order to plead for lower or higher payments when circumstances change. We wrote about the Massachusetts movement on Divorce Attorney in this post.

CTAR’s core principles of alimony reform in their state were included in the defeated bill, but remain their rallying cry:

  • Establish guidelines for alimony duration and amount with flexibility for unusual cases;
  • Establish new criteria to define and determine cohabitation;
  • Provide that alimony payers have a meaningful right to retire and see payments lowered or ended.
  • Remove the income and assets of a payer’s new spouse from the amount available for alimony adjustments in a modification.

The drives to update alimony laws in Connecticut, New Jersey, Florida and Massachusetts signal an emerging national movement and will be most interesting to watch. You can be assured that we’ll keep on top of this issue in this blog, and bring you the latest news we can find.

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