Louden Katz & McGrath LLC

Louden Katz & McGrath LLC

Louden, Katz & McGrath, with 85 years of combined experience, practices family law throughout Connecticut.

Firm Overview

As advocates for our clients, our approach is firm and assertive. We balance strong advocacy with being reasonable and reaching constructive results. In the context of our divorce work, we deal with such related areas as business, real estate, retirement plans, child development, taxes, estates and trusts, and the emotional impact of divorce. Though much of our practice involves litigation, 95% of our cases are ultimately settled through negotiation rather than trial. We have tried many cases, however, when necessary to achieve a positive result. Through divorce mediation and collaborative divorce, we offer couples a respectful and non-adversarial approach to end their marriages with a minimum of acrimony and professional intervention. We limit the number of clients we accept and prefer clients who want to be constructive, rather than destructive, and who want to help themselves. Louden, Katz & McGrath serves the matrimonial law field through writing and teaching, and serves society by handling some cases on a no-fee basis.

Main Office

Main Office
638 Prospect Avenue

Hartford CT 06105

Phone

(860) 231-7150

Fax

(860) 231-7425

Fees

Office Information

Office Hours

8:30 am to 5:00 pm

Office Manager

Kathleen Semeraro

Emergency After Hours

No

Languages Spoken

English, Spanish, Portuguese

Office Hours

8:30 am to 5:00 pm

Office Manager

Kathleen Semeraro

Emergency After Hours

No

Languages Spoken

English, Spanish, Portuguese

Divorce

Louden, Katz & McGrath, with 85 years of combined experience, practices family law throughout Connecticut - from premarital agreements to divorce to post-divorce matters.

We serve a broad cross-section of clientele from all walks of life – from hourly employees to CEOs of major corporations, homemakers, doctors, lawyers and people unable to pay legal fees (pro bono). We handle highly complex cases involving finances and children, as well as relatively straightforward matters. We do so economically through having a wide range of family law experience, totaling 85 years for lawyers and 65 years for staff. The breadth of our legal team enables us to offer fee arrangements suitable to all socio-economic levels and to each client’s interests and needs. LITIGATION Litigation is the traditional process of a lawyer advocating for a client throughout the divorce process to final resolution, whether by settlement or trial. Although 95% of divorce cases are settled without a trial, we have taken many cases to trial and through appeal over the years. Although coming to an agreement is often the best way to achieve a positive result, in some cases the parties cannot agree on one or several issues. Even with the aid of an experienced lawyer, they then must take their issues to a court for a judge to decide. If the court contest is over finances, expert opinions from appraisers, accountants and other professionals may be needed. If the issue involves children, mental health professionals and lawyers for the children may also be involved. Divorce litigation is hard for everyone involved, from the parties to the lawyers to the judge. Having a skilled and experienced lawyer as an advocate is highly important to a positive outcome. MEDIATION Mediation of divorce cases became a major movement in the 1980's. Bruce Louden was a pioneer nationally in the mediation field, mediating cases since 1981 and speaking on such at national lawyer conferences in 1983 and 1989, and a Connecticut seminar in 1992. Divorce mediation is not therapy or marriage counseling, although we consider it a more therapeutic way to go through the divorce process. There also is a common misconception that mediation is designed to preserve or reconcile marriages. Most people who go through mediation in fact end up divorced. However, studies show that 90% of the parties who go through mediation remain satisfied with their settlements and abide by them. Divorce mediation requires three people who wish to go about consideration of terminating a marriage in a special manner: two reasonable spouses and a mediator acting as a guide/facilitator. The success of mediation depends upon the candor, desire, sensitivity and competence of the three participants. If spouses or partners are in good faith and wish to deal openly and reasonably with each other, and if they work with a competent and caring mediator, the result generally is positive. We view a mediator's job as helping couples see that their relationship, especially when children are involved, is not ending. Rather, the family relationships are being restructured. In the process everyone's needs will be examined and revised, as family arrangements are made in a cooperative manner. COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE Although a constructive and collaborative approach to divorce has always been the hallmark of the lawyers in Louden, Katz & McGrath, this process was formalized in the 1990's as "Collaborative Divorce." Having practiced this way before the advent of a formal process, we are thoroughly steeped in this approach to helping clients through a difficult process. In a collaborative case each party retains a lawyer to help him or her through all aspects of the divorce process. Outside resources, such as accountants, co-parenting counselors or appraisers can be hired as needed to provide information. The hallmarks of the collaborative process are that the parties and their lawyers agree not to take issues to court and pledge that everyone will work with integrity and openness — for themselves and the collaborative process itself. The divorce process is difficult enough without clients feeling that their spouse is their enemy. We promote dialogue and communication between divorcing spouses; this helps the case run more smoothly and has the added benefit to clients of keeping legal costs down. For clients with children, keeping the lines of communication open and flowing can serve clients during and after the divorce, when the lawyer is no longer the go-between, and dialogue must happen with the other parent. CHILD CUSTODY & PARENTING A parent with sole legal custody can make decisions without prior consultation with the other parent. When discussing child custody matters, joint custody is a term that creates confusion, and with good reason. The Connecticut statutes define joint custody as awarding legal custody of a minor child to both parents, providing for joint decision-making by the parents. Our statutes further state that there is a presumption that joint custody is in the best interests of a minor child. Joint custody refers to the parents’ ability and right to make important decisions jointly for a minor child, related to such basic areas as health, religion and education. If joint custody is agreed to by the parents or ordered by the court, the parents must work together to make decisions regarding issues that arise for a child. How much time each parent has with a child was formerly referred to as "visitation" or "access," and, in recent years, a "parenting plan." Parenting plans created by parents can reflect the unique situation of each family, taking into account the needs of all family members, employment hours, and special holiday or vacation plans. Parenting plans created by the court will contain what the court decides they should contain. Connecticut has many resources to help parents resolve parenting issues, including parenting counselors who can be brought in on a referral basis to help couples resolve parenting issues constructively, avoiding the high costs of a child custody battle. PREMARITAL & POSTMARITAL AGREEMENTS Our lawyers have assisted many clients through the years with premarital (prenuptial) agreements, in which the spouses-to-be agree prior to their marriage on financial and related arrangements upon divorce or the death of a spouse. Premarital agreements may make sense for those who are entering a second marriage, own a family business, have assets to protect, or are a beneficiary of trusts or large inheritances. The agreement must be signed by both parties voluntarily. Both spouses must have the opportunity to have an independent lawyer review the agreement, and the couple must provide each other fair and reasonable financial disclosure. We also increasingly are working on postmarital agreements, when spouses are uncertain about the future of their marriage and want specific legal understandings regarding their financial and parenting arrangements during the marriage and if they are divorced. SAME-SEX MARRIAGES Our Supreme Court decided in 2008 that Connecticut’s statutory prohibition against same-sex marriage violates the Constitution of Connecticut. The Court concluded that gays and lesbians were harmed by not being given the ability to marry. The Court based its opinion on the History of discrimination faced by gays and lesbians, and because the institution of marriage carries a special “status and significance.” The Connecticut Statutes now define marriage as the legal union of two persons. Same-sex divorce cases have the same issues as heterosexual marriages. APPEALS The purpose of an appeal is to handle misinterpretation or misapplication of the law by the trial court rather than to introduce new evidence. Our lawyers’ knowledge of the intricacies of family law enables us to focus on the specific issues in a family case that may give rise to an appeal and to carry those issues through to conclusion. With limited exceptions, a filing is required within 20 days of the trial court’s issuing an appealable decision, or the appeal will not be possible. Thus, moving quickly is critical when considering an appeal where the result at trial has failed to meet legal requirements. POST-DIVORCE MATTERS In an original divorce proceeding, a final decree ("judgment") is entered either after a trial or an agreement. The decree has many provisions, some of which can be modified, others which cannot be changed. Child support and child custody can always be changed. Alimony can be modified if the decree does not foreclose modification. Property settlements/asset divisions generally cannot be modified absent a showing of fraud. Child support can be modified upon (1) a showing of a substantial change in circumstances of either parent or (2) if the child support substantially deviates from the formulaic Child Support Guidelines. The first allows the court to modify a support order when the financial circumstances of the parents have changed, regardless of their prior contemplation of such changes. The second allows the court to modify child support orders that once were deemed appropriate, but no longer equitable in light of changed social or economic circumstances. Child custody or a parenting plan can be changed if it is in the best interests of a child. If the parties are in agreement about any changes, the process is simple. If, however, they are not in agreement, there are many ways to resolve the issues, ranging from mediation and collaborative solutions to a full-blown custody battle. If the judgment allows, alimony either can be non-modifiable or modifiable upon a showing of a substantial change in circumstances of either former spouse. If one party violates a court order, a motion for contempt may be used as a remedy. UNMARRIED COUPLES WITH CHILDREN Unmarried couples in Connecticut may encounter the same custody and parenting issues as divorcing couples. When there are children involved, the case is commenced with an Application for Custody. The custody and parenting issues, as well as child support, healthcare costs and college costs can be addressed through processes used by divorcing couples. Many couples choose to work out a mutually agreeable arrangement, either in mediation or through a collaborative process. A contract between the parties can be enforced if either one does not comply with the agreed-upon provisions. We have found that this method for resolving issues for unmarried couples has worked well. Unmarried couples do not have the benefit of certain favorable tax provisions for the transfer of income and assets, and thus any contract created must be done carefully. LEGAL SEPARATION People generally are confused by the term "legal separation." It in fact has a specific meaning in family law. Parties to a divorce generally are "separated" and a "legal" proceeding is pending. However, they are not "legally separated." Rather, under our statutes there is a specific proceeding for a legal separation, identical to that of divorce except the relief requested of the court is a separation and not a dissolution of the marriage. The parties to a legal separation remain married, although our experience has been that decrees of legal separation almost always become divorce decrees at some point. PRIVATE SPECIAL MASTER/ARBITRATOR Louden, Katz & McGrath is regularly retained by other lawyers to assist them and their clients in bringing unresolved cases to resolution. We are experienced and have been successful in assisting lawyers and parties in coming to a reasonable and acceptable settlement when their efforts to negotiate have come to a standstill. The process often is referred to as "mediation," but we view mediation as at the commencement of a divorce case and private special mastering taking place near the end of a case. While making our own case evaluation, we utilize the prior work of the lawyers for the parties, so as to make the process as efficient and economical as possible. Thus, we generally require Financial Affidavits, factual memoranda or other summaries of statutory criteria, proposed orders, stipulations and lists of unresolved issues. If desirable, we will prepare a written summary of the relevant facts from which to work. We can proceed in a variety of ways to negotiate an agreement: lawyers alone, parties alone, or two lawyers and two parties together. Our goal is to utilize the combination of people in the process that is most productive. We can draft a Settlement Agreement as a fundamental point of reference as we proceed and then a final product when all issues have been resolved. In addition to private special mastering, which is designed to be advisory and persuasive, we do arbitration under the recent statute authorizing such in divorce cases. Because arbitration awards are final and binding on the parties, we effectively are acting in the role of a judge. ANNULMENT A process to annul (cancel) a marriage has been available in Connecticut since 1877. An annulment is the dissolution of a marriage based on facts existing at the time of the marriage which render the marriage void or voidable. The current statute lists several grounds for annulment, including: ~ marriage not consummated; ~ marriage of certain kindred (family members); ~ marriage performed without a valid marriage license; or ~ marriage performed by someone unauthorized to do so. The process is much like that of a divorce. EXPERT WITNESS Lawyers from other firms periodically retain an experienced lawyer from Louden, Katz & McGrath to serve as an expert witness in cases involving malpractice claims, fee disputes and other disagreements arising from a divorce case. We study materials presented and, after making a preliminary assessment, render our opinion on issues, privately to our client, in a deposition or at a trial.

What are your firm's strengths and style?

We believe that every person should have the opportunity for a fulfilling life, and we implement that belief by doing all that we reasonably can to help our clients move toward this objective in the divorce process. Dissolution of a marriage is a major life event. Divorcing couples, individually or together, experience the sorrow and confusion that comes with the end of a once-treasured union. Often there is guilt, a profound sense of betrayal, and fear for the future. All too often we have seen the results of lawyering that aggravates, rather than calms, an already troublesome situation. In keeping with a spirit of empowerment, the firm's lawyers believe in working to see that our clients emerge positively, with our experience being that many of our clients end up as better friends with their former spouses than before the divorce process began. We have given careful consideration to our values, professionally and personally, and believe that lawyers in divorce cases can be a force for ameliorating the issues that led to a divorce proceeding. We do this through the manner in which we deal with (a) our clients, (b) sister or brother counsel, (c) the spouses of our clients, (d) other experts in the case and (e) other people significant in the lives of any children involved.

Carla N. Zahner

Louden Katz & McGrath LLC

With over a decade of legal experience, Carla has practiced exclusively in the area of matrimonial law in the greater Hartford region for over five years. A native of Hartford, Carla is fluent in Portuguese and Spanish and is a strong advocate for her clients, while maintaining civility and professionalism.

~ Member, Connecticut Collaborative Divorce Group
~ Admitted to Connecticut Bar, 2004
~ University of Connecticut School of Law (2004, With Honors)
~ Connecticut Insurance Law Journal
~ Latino Law Student Association
~ Trinity College (2001, With Honors)
~ Teaching assistant in Spanish
~ B.A. in Political Science and Spanish

Carla resides in West Hartford with her husband and two children.

David A. McGrath

Louden Katz & McGrath LLC

Since David's admission to the bar in 2010, he has quickly established a reputation as a skilled and successful divorce lawyer.

~ Chair, Connecticut Bar Young Lawyers Section (2018-2019)
~ Executive Committee, Connecticut Bar Young Lawyers Section (2010-
present)
~ Connecticut Bar Family Law Executive Committee (2011-present)
~ Received Hartford County Bar 2018 Judge Maxwell Heiman Award
~ Named "Rising Star" by Super Lawyers (2013-2018)
~ Named "Star of the Year" (2012), received "Chair Award" (2016) and
"Achievement Award" (2018) from Connecticut Bar Young Lawyers
Section
~ One of 37 lawyers in Connecticut named "New Leaders in the Law" by
Connecticut Law Tribune (2016)
~ Named "Rising Star" by Connecticut Bar Family Section (2011)
~ Court-appointed Special Master (Hartford Family Court, New Britain
Family Court, Middletown Family Court)
~ J.D., with Honors, University of Connecticut School of Law

David resides in West Hartford with his wife and two children.

Robert B. Katz

Louden Katz & McGrath LLC

Bob has been practicing family law exclusively throughout Connecticut for 33 years. He previously practiced in the firms of Louden, Forzani & Katz; Cummings & Lockwood; and Levy & Droney.

~ Listed in Super Lawyers (Family Law)
~ Founding member and past president, Connecticut Collaborative
Divorce Group
~ Instructor - Forensics to Psychiatric Fellows Program, Institute of
Living, Hartford (2010-present)
~ Court-appointed Special Master (financial matters)
~ Court-appointed Special Master (custody issues)
~ ABA Trial Advocacy Institute, University of Houston (2002, 2003)

Bob resides in Avon with his wife, a lawyer and elementary school principal, and they are the parents of two children, both lawyers.

Wm Bruce Louden

Louden Katz & McGrath LLC

Partner

Bruce has enjoyed a national reputation for 40 years as both an effective advocate and a pioneer in a constructive approach to divorce. Since 1977 he has had the highest rating a lawyer can have in the standard lawyers' directory, Martindale-Hubbell, and has been listed in national publications among the top divorce lawyers in the country.

~ Listed in each edition of Best Lawyers in America (Family Law) (1983-
present)
~ President, Connecticut chapter, American Academy of Matrimonial
Lawyers (1991-1992)
~ Listed in Town & Country Magazine among top 88 divorce lawyers
nationally (1985)
~ Adjunct faculty, University of Connecticut Law School (Family Law
Seminar and Legal Profession) (1978-1982)
~ Standing Committee on Professional Discipline, American Bar
Association (1973-1979)
~ Cases decided by Connecticut Supreme Court--Hunter, 177 Conn. 327
(1979); Blake, 207 Conn. 217 (1988); Seymour, 262 Conn. 107 (2002)
~ Speaker at numerous family law seminars in Connecticut and
nationally.
~ Bruce's paralegal/assistant, Kathy Semeraro, has worked with him
since 1998.

Bruce resides in West Hartford with his wife, a psychotherapist-Episcopal priest. They are the parents of three children and the grandparents of three lively grandsons.

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