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Showing posts with label REFORM PROPOSALS. Show all posts
Showing posts with label REFORM PROPOSALS. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 17, 2018


April 9, 2018

Judge Patrick L. Carroll III,
Chief Court Administrator
Supreme Court Building
231 Capitol Avenue
Hartford, CT 06106

Petition:  Add a Mandatory Parental Responsibility Plan to the Automatic Orders

Dear Judge Carroll:

On behalf of the “Divorce in Connecticut” website, and for the benefit of the people of Connecticut, I am writing to you about the website’s petition on the above referenced matter related to Parental Responsibility Plans in Family Court Matters.  The content of the petition is attached to this letter.

As was noted on the petition, while there are very specific orders in regard to financial behavior during the pendente lite period in a Family Court Matter, there are very few guidelines in regard to the care of children.  I am hoping that the CT Judicial Branch could refine the language of the automatic orders to include a provision that requires that, within 30 days of the return day, the parties submit to the Court a Parental Responsibility Plan, i.e. Form JD-FM-199.  Sometimes parents in Family Court continue on for months without any agreement which results in constant struggles for those parents and children.  These struggles inevitably require continual interventions by family relations and legal professionals which bogs down an already overburdened Court system. 

The advantage of putting a Parental Agreement in place right away is that it would establish proper boundaries between the parties in a divorce and thereby reduce confrontations, arguments, exposure to DV, unnecessary lapses in parental contact, and extra legal expenses.  In particular, each party would know what their responsibilities are in regard to their children, and they would have in place specific parenting time with their children right from the beginning.  This will reduce the unfortunate tug of war situations with children that come up during divorce proceedings due to a lack of clarity. 

It could be that parties will be unable to come to an agreement within the allotted time period, which would simply mean submitting a statement to that effect to the Court, which can then direct the case towards special services for high conflict couples.  In my opinion, you might as well know where you stand right away in a case and get started addressing the obstacles immediately rather than allowing them to fester for months before addressing them..

I have also enclosed signatures from 100 supporters who believe that this kind of provision would significantly reduce conflict between divorcing couples.  I will concede that some of them live in such far flung places as Belgium and Australia, but I believe their wisdom counts as well.  In future, I will restrict petitions to the State of Connecticut since primarily the views of our own citizens are what counts.  However, I believe that common sense and the many CT citizens who did sign this petition indicate that such a provision requiring Parental Responsibility Plans right from the start of a divorce should be put into place.
I would be interested in hearing your perspective on this issue.  It would be valuable to know if others whose opinions you respect have expressed this concern or if the CT Judicial Branch shares some of these concerns as well. Does my solution make sense to you?  I have been unsure whether i should approach the CT Judicial Branch, or my representatives, but just in case I thought I’d approach you first and get your feedback. If you have any suggestions for how I could proceed further, or insights that could assist me in crafting this idea more effectively, I would highly appreciate hearing your thoughts.  Thank you very much for your time.


Elizabeth A. Richter, Manager
Divorce in Connecticut Website
P.O. Box 5 * Canton, CT  06019 * 860-751-4668


Chief Justice Chase T. Rogers
Rep. Minnie Gonzalez
Rep. William Tong
Sen. Paul Doyle
Sen. Ed Gomes
Sen. John A. Kissel
Rep. Prasad Srinivasan
Sen. Mae Flexor
Karen Jarmoc, CCADV
Catharine Bailey, CWEALF

Thursday, February 22, 2018


See link below to petition:


There are two areas in divorce which particularly cause problems for divorcing couples. One is the issue of custody, while the other is the division of the marital assets.  These issues are addressed in the automatic orders which are given to both parties when the divorce is filed. See link:  
When it comes to financial issues, the automatic orders does well in Section 3, Item #1 by requiring parties to file financial affidavits within 30 days of the return day.
In contrast, custody matters are handled in a very sloppy manner.  Section 1, Item #3 of the automatic orders tells the parents to, "assist their children in having contact with both parties, which is consistent with the habits of the family, personally, by telephone, and in writing."  The problem with this provision is that it is vague and unclear, which makes it particularly difficult to enforce.  As a result, parents can spend thousands and thousands of dollars hammering out the details of each and every visit as it arises.  When there are problems related to domestic violence or difficulties with parents obtaining access to their kids, this turns obtaining parenting time safely and equitably into a nightmare.
As a result, this petition asks that the Chief Administrator of the CT Judicial Branch recommend that the Branch add a provision to the third section of the Automatic orders in The CT Practice Book to require that parents fill out and submit to the Court a Parental Responsibility Plan JD-FM-199 with 30 days of the return day.  See a copy of this form at the link below:
This requirement will go a long way towards reducing the friction between the parties, cutting back on unnecessary financial expenditures, building bridges, and establishing clearcut and sensible guidelines in regard to how parents will co-parent during the divorce proceedings.

Sunday, April 30, 2017


Recently, we all watched the fiasco of SB #1049 go down where rogue leaders of the CT Coalition for Family Court Reform tried to slip a bill through the Finance Committee rather than the Judiciary Committee.  They did this after members of the Judiciary Committee quite sensibly refused to hear proposed bills from The Coalition that were destructive and damaging to women.  

The only thing I can say about the Finance Committee at this point is: "What were they thinking?"  

Sunday, July 24, 2016


The 7 suggested reforms in Swift's article are as follows:

"1. Limit the power of legislative leaders. 

Connecticut’s speaker of the House and president of the Senate have close to absolute power in deciding what pieces of legislation make it to the floor for a vote in the General Assembly. For a variety of reasons, they can and do kill bills that would pass, sometimes by wide margins, if a vote was actually allowed. Comptroller Kevin Lembo’s bill to bring more transparency to state tax breaks (see No. 4) died in the Senate this year because it was never called for a vote despite widespread support. Last year, former Speaker of the House Chris Donovan blocked a bipartisan jobs bill from making it to the floor in retaliation for the Senate’s opposition to a minimum wage bill he was championing. When “roll-your-own” tobacco shop owners funneled illegal campaign cash into Donovan’s bid for U.S. Congress, they did so based on assurances from his staff that the speaker’s office could block legislation that would have increased taxes on their product..."


Sunday, February 1, 2015


According to Bill Sarno,
"The changes enacted last year as to how the state’s family courts operate appear to be just the first steps in reforming a  system which some critics have described as incestuous, secretive and having greatly distressed some families, both financially and emotionally.
While much of the impetus for the changes initially came from the legislature, with Reps. Minnie Gonzalez and Edwin Vargas of Hartford leading the fight for  passage of the reform bill, the state judicial branch now also indicates its increased willingness to improve and streamline  how it treats family matters and is introducing several bills this session.
Rep. Minnie Gonzalez (D) Hartford has fought for changes in the family court system or five years.  Photo credit:
Rep. Minnie Gonzalez (D) Hartford has fought for changes in the family court system for five years. Photo credit:
Gonzalez, who has campaigned for the system’s reform for five years, is also not done.  She also is sponsoring new bills this year that call for additional continued changes in the system with Vargas as her co-sponsor. “I have submitted nine bills this session,” she said, which demonstrates her commitment to overhauling the current system.
According to Rhonda Stearley-Hebert, program manager of communications for the judiciary, the reforms called for in  Public Act 14-3, the bill passed during last year’s legislative session, have already been implemented by the family court system as it pertains to them.  The bill required, among other things, that the judiciary establish a code of conduct and a sliding fee schedule for attorneys for minor children (AMC) and guardians ad litem (GAL). The latter are individuals, often attorneys, who the courts appoint to protect the interests of minor children in custody cases, while the former focus on legal issues."
For more information on this article, please click on the link below:

Friday, May 9, 2014


By Jane Addams

I am writing to you to share with you my ideas about how to improve the Connecticut Family court system and to make the divorce/custody experience a healthier one for everyone involved, and also make it more effective and efficient overall.  I would appreciate any feedback on my ideas or assistance in growing these ideas into a bill. 

1.  We need effective Parenting Education Classes, and we need to encourage parents to attend them.

The current Parenting Education Classes that are required for divorce should be improved and extended.  The classes need more in-depth explanations of the impact that parental conflict has on children and the parents.  I also feel that all parents who are engaged in a contested divorce with children or who are involved in the custody process need to be required to engage in co-parenting therapy.  Such co-parenting therapy should extend into the whole time the parties are engaged in the court proceedings. 

I also feel that the loop holes that allow a parent to opt out of the requirement to take a Parenting Education Class needs to be tightened and monitored closely.  The court should make it a priority to ensure every parent is reminded/educated on the potential impact their legal proceedings can have on them and their children.  This will help motivate and those encourage parents who are able to develop insight through the Classes about the effect of their behavior on their children to do better.  For those who need assistance, it will keep these parents focused on doing what is best for their children and themselves which will minimize the negative impact that conflictual parental court proceeding have on children and parents. 

In the end, good attendance at the Parenting Education Classes will make both children and parents healthier.  This will help the court system operate more effectively and efficiently, saving time and money, because it will be less bogged down by motions and cases where parents are not focusing on what is best for their children and themselves.  

It will help prevent, what is unfortunately too common, situations where parents are tying up the  court by using it for revenge.  I base this recommendation on the simple premise that the natural "normal" and healthy human state allows for cooperation and compromise, particularly in regards to making decisions about children. 

Along the same lines, anytime parents can not communicate and develop an agreement, this is an indication that there are underlying "problems" that need to addressed.  And as long as these root issues are not addressed than the conflict will continue, despite any well meaning court order or GAL intervention, etc.

2.  Children should receive counseling if their parents are engaged in high conflict divorce proceedings. 

Children also be required to receive therapeutic support the whole time their parents are engaged in contested court proceedings.  Whenever there is conflict between parents, a child will be caught in the middle and this will absolutely cause painful feelings that need to be addressed immediately or these feelings will have a residual effect on the child. 

Psychological research has shown that the quicker the support a person with emotional/mental issues receives, the more effective the help.  The therapist who is assigned to support the children is not only a person who helps the children process and manage their feelings, this person can also be an advocate for the child, once again, helping everyone involved keep the child's best interest as a priority. 

I base this suggestion on the simple premise that when a child is experiencing additional negativity in her life, then she needs additional positive support to heal from it and prevent it from becoming a residual issue.

3.  Family Relations Counselors should be required to attend CEU training.

I recommend that anyone involved, working for, or contracted by the Family Court system be required to attend CEU training, particularly in regard to sensitivity/psychology/child development/human service classes, with built-in incentive programs that reward healthy and timely handling of cases to help them also stay focused and motivated to keep children's and parent's best interest as top priority. 

I also recommend some sort of moral boosting stress reduction initiative be implemented in the Family Court system  This will help combat the apathy and corruption that is an epidemic in the Family court system.  It is hard for Family Court workers to do their jobs properly if they are stressed out and disconnected from the consequences of their actions.  

And once again, whatever training they receive during the education is not effective to prevent apathy and corruption from seeping into the system.  They need constant reminders as we all do.  I base this suggestion on the fact that the only way to truly improve interactions between people is to ensure that both parties are getting their needs fulfilled.  Parents need help and support to focus on what is best and so do the workers.  I think this idea will help make the Family Court reforms more palatable to all involved. 

I welcome additional thoughts and responses to this proposal.  Please leave your ideas in the comments section below.