Gerald H. Kahn, LLC • 138 Garnet Park Road, Madison, CT 06443 • (203) 777-0506 Phone • (203) 777-9971 Fax
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NameGerald H. Kahn Esquire
SpecialtyFamily & Divorce Law
FirmAttorney Gerald H. Kahn, LLC
ResidenceNew Haven, CT.
My specialty is Family & Divorce LawI'm a Special Master in trial courts throughout Connecticut, a Member of the Connecticut and American Bar Association; Connecticut Bar Association Task Force on Civility in the Practice of Law. I'm the former Chair, Family Law Section, Connecticut Bar Association. I have lectured and taught throughout Connecticut and nationally.
Education B.A. in American studies, Yale University in 1966
J.D., University of Michigan Law School, cum laude, 1969.
BornBuffalo, N.Y.; August 11, 1944
My first jobI was as a VISTA (Volunteer in Service to America) lawyer in Kansas City, Mo., what was then called the 'domestic Peace Corps.' I was 25 years old. It was 1969. I was draft-eligible until I was 26 years old. I didn't believe in the war. VISTA was no pay - not quite volunteer work but the next thing to it. I did poverty law work or legal aid. It was a wonderful year that broadened my horizons geographically and in every other way.
Why did I choose my specialty?When I first went into private practice in 1973, the lawyer with whom I worked was, and is, one of the preeminent divorce lawyers in the state, Jim Greenfield. I got the cases he was too busy to handle. I found that I liked what I did, that I did it well, and I began to build a following.
My most memorable case The first case I had that was a major trial - lasted four days - was when I was ten or 15 years into my practice. I wasn't a rookie anymore but I was still a little green. I represented a doctor, who was the wife of a doctor. Both were eccentric, difficult people. I started the testimony with the opposing client, thinking both of these people were unlikable. And I thought if I put on the opposing client first, the judge would dislike him first and that might immunize me against any reaction to my client.

When I finished my direct examination and the judge took a recess, the court reporter and the marshal in the courtroom patted me on the back and congratulated me. Not only did I get a good result in the case, it was a great confidence-builder. I had reached a level of professional skill that was kind of a self-recognition for me. The kicker afterwards was that I had to fight with my client to get paid. That was also a learning experience for me.
Who am I personally? I have three children: his step-daughter, Carly Berwick, a free-lance journalist, who is married and lives in Jersey City, New Jersey; my son, David Kahn, a community organizer, who is married and lives in Vermont; and my other son Sam Kahn, who is single and is temporarily living in Ecuador, conducting research in the forests of the Andes.

While raising my children I served on numerous boards of schools, daycare centers, sports leagues, and the like. I have also served on various other community boards and organizations.
A little about me I Love to read American history, my favorite cuisine is Italian and enjoy traveling to Arowhon Pines Rustic Lodge, Algonquin Park, in the heart of the forests north of Toronto in Ontario where I can pursue all three of my favorite activities in the summer.
What would I do if no longer practiced law? If I had to make a living, I'd be damned if I know what I'd do. If I could be turned loose to my own aptitude and preference, I'd run a bookstore, preferably travel and attend Major and Minor League baseball games.
Personal mottoAspire to honor and integrity in whatever you do.

Practice Areas

The following is a list of the practice areas that I specialize in:

  • Family Law
  • Divorce - Dissolution of Marriage, Collaborative Law, Mediation Law
  • Alimony
  • Child Support
  • Child Custody
  • Domestic Violence
  • Adoption
  • Property Division
  • Visitation Rights

Understanding the practice areas:
(Definitions provided by Wikipedia)

Family law

Is the area of the law that deals with family-related to maintain the matters of any family to retain harmony and peace issues and domestic relations including:

  • the nature of marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships

  • issues arising throughout marriage, including spousal abuse, legitimacy, adoption, surrogacy, child abuse, and child abduction

  • the termination of the relationship and ancillary matters including divorce, annulment, property settlements, alimony, and parental responsibility orders (in the United States, child custody and visitation, child support and alimony awards).

  • Paternity fraud and testing

  • Juvenile adjudication


Dissolution of Marriage, Collaborative Law, Mediation Law

Divorce (or the dissolution of marriage) is the final termination of a marital union, canceling the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage and dissolving the bonds of matrimony between the parties (unlike annulment, which declares the marriage null and void). Divorce laws vary considerably around the world, but in most countries it requires the sanction of a court or other authority in a legal process. The legal process of divorce may also involve issues of alimony (spousal support), child custody, child support, distribution of property, and division of debt.

Divorce (legally referred to as 'dissolution of marriage') does not require a party to assert fault on the part of their partner leading to the breakdown of their marriage. Prior to the onset of 'no-fault' statutes, a party would have to prove a ground, typically 'desertion,' 'abandonment,' 'cruelty,' or 'adultery.' The requirement of proving a ground was revised (and withdrawn) by the terms of 'no-fault' statutes, which became popular in the United States during the late 1960s and early 1970s. In 'no-fault' jurisdictions, a simple, general allegation of 'irreconcilable differences,' or 'irretrievable break-down' with respect to the marriage relationship, sufficed to establish the end of the marriage.

In jurisdictions adopting the 'no-fault' principle in divorce proceedings, some courts may still take into account the behavior of the parties when dividing property, debts, evaluating custody, and support-facts that almost always have considerable weight in fault proceedings. This is particularly true in custody cases, where the courts might consider many factors that mirror 'fault' grounds, such as drug abuse, alcoholism, violence, cruelty, instability, neglect, and possibly the preference of an intelligent, mature child.

Despite this, in some states, the courts will seldom apply principles of fault, but might willingly hold a party liable for a breach of a fiduciary duty to his or her spouse.

In most jurisdictions, a divorce must be certified (or ordered by a Judge) by a court of law to come into effect. The terms of the divorce are usually determined by the courts, though they may take into account prenuptial agreements or post-nuptial agreements, or simply ratify terms that the spouses may have agreed to privately and have been rendered in writing. In absence of an agreement, a contested divorce may be stressful to the spouses. Contested divorces mean that one of several issues are required to be heard by a judge at trial level-this is more expensive, and the parties will have to pay for a lawyer's time and preparation. Less adversarial approaches to divorce settlements have recently emerged, such as mediation and collaborative divorce settlement, which negotiate mutually acceptable resolution to conflicts. This principle in the United States is called 'Alternative Dispute Resolution' and continues to gain popularity.

It is estimated that upwards of 95% of divorces in the U.S. are "uncontested", because the two parties are able to come to an agreement (either with or without lawyers/mediators/collaborative counsel) about the property, children, and support issues. When the parties can agree and present the court with a fair and equitable agreement, approval of the divorce is almost guaranteed. If the two parties cannot come to an agreement, they may ask the court to decide how to split property and deal with the custody of their children. Though this may be necessary, the courts would prefer parties come to an agreement prior to entering court.

Where the issues are not complex and the parties are cooperative, a settlement often can be directly negotiated between them. Collaborative divorce and mediated divorce are considered uncontested divorces.

Collaborative divorce is a method for divorcing couples to come to agreement on divorce issues. In a collaborative divorce, the parties negotiate an agreed resolution with the assistance of attorneys who are trained in the collaborative divorce process and in mediation, and often with the assistance of a neutral financial specialist and/or divorce coach. The parties are empowered to make their own decisions based on their own needs and interests, but with complete information and full professional support.

Once the collaborative divorce starts, the lawyers are disqualified from representing the parties in a contested legal proceeding, should the collaborative law process end prematurely. Most attorneys who practice collaborative divorce claim that it can be more cost-effective than other divorce methods, e.g., going to court. Expense, they say, has to be looked at under the headings of financial and emotional. Also, the experience of working collaboratively tends to improve communication between the parties, particularly when collaborative coaches are involved, and the possibility of going back to court post-separation or divorce is minimized. In the course of the collaboration, should the parties not reach any agreements, any documents or information exchanged during the collaborative process cannot be used in court except by agreement between the parties.

Neither can any of the professional team retained in the course of the collaboration be brought to court. Essentially, they have the same protections as in mediation. There are two exceptions: 1) Any affidavit sworn in the course of the collaboration and vouching documentation attaching to same and 2) any interim agreement made and signed off in the course of the collaboration or correspondence relating thereto. The parties are in control of the time they are prepared to give their collaboration. Some people need a lot of time to complete, whereas others will reach solutions in a few meetings. Collaborative practitioners offer a tightly orchestrated model with meetings scheduled in advance every two weeks, and the range of items to be discussed apportioned in advance of signing up as well as the more open ended process.

Mediated divorce is an alternative to traditional divorce litigation. In a divorce mediation session, a mediator facilitates the discussion between the two parties by assisting with communication and providing information and suggestions to help resolve differences. At the end of the mediation process, the separating parties have typically developed a tailored divorce agreement that can be submitted to the court. Mediation sessions can include either party's attorneys, a neutral attorney, or an attorney-mediator who can inform both parties of their legal rights, but does not provide advice to either, or can be conducted with the assistance of a facilitative or transformative mediator without attorneys present at all. Divorce mediation can be significantly less costly, both financially and emotionally, than litigation. The adherence rate to mediated agreements is much higher than that of adherence to court orders.

Same-sex divorce in a state that does not recognize same-sex marriage. Since same-sex marriages are not recognized in a multitude of states, couples who are married in states that do recognize same-sex marriages will find themselves in a position of being precluded from dissolving their marriages in the states in which they live. When this happens, legal questions will remain unanswered as to which state laws will be applicable to determine the rights of each divorcing partner. In addition, special problems will present themselves when same-sex couples cannot be divorced in states that do recognize same sex marriage because they are not residents of such states.


Alimony or spousal support is a legal obligation to provide financial support to one's spouse from the other spouse after marital separation or from the ex-spouse upon divorce. It is established by divorce law or family law and is based on the premise that both spouses in theory have a legal obligation to support each other during their marriage (or civil union) or upon separation or/and divorce.

Child Support

Alimony is not child support, where, after divorce, one parent is required to contribute to the support of their children by paying money to the child's other parent or guardian. Considered a payment that a parent is making for the support of their offspring, the parent who pays child support pays the taxes however; alimony is treated as taxable income to the receiving spouse, and, in certain cases, deducted from the gross income of the paying spouse.

In family law and public policy, child support (or child maintenance) is an ongoing, periodic payment made by a parent for the financial benefit of a child following the end of a marriage or other relationship. Child maintenance is paid directly or indirectly by an obligor to an obligee for the care and support of children of a relationship that has been terminated, or in some cases never existed. Often the obligor is a non-custodial parent. The obligee is typically a custodial parent, a caregiver, a guardian, or the state.

A custodial parent may pay child support to a non-custodial parent. Typically one has the same duty to pay child support irrespective of sex, so a mother is required to pay support to a father just as a father must pay a mother. Where there is joint custody, the child is considered to have two custodial parents and no non-custodial parents, and a custodial parent with a higher income (obligor) may be required to pay the other custodial parent (obligee).

In family law, child support is often arranged as part of a divorce, marital separation, dissolution of marriage, annulment, determination of parentage or dissolution of a civil union and may supplement alimony (spousal support) arrangements.

Child support is based on the policy that both parents are obliged to financially support their children, even when the children are not living with both parents. Child support refers to the financial support of children and not other forms of support, such as emotional support, physical care, or spiritual support.

When children live with both parents, courts rarely, if ever direct the parents how to provide financial support for their children. However, when the parents are not together, courts often order one parent to pay the other an amount set as financial support of the child. In such situations, one parent (the obligee) receives child support, and the other parent (the obligor) is ordered to pay child support. The amount of child support may be set on a case-by-case basis or by a formula estimating the amount thought that parents should pay to financially support their children.

Child support may be ordered to be paid by one parent to another when one is a non-custodial parent and the other is a custodial parent. Similarly, child support may also be ordered to be paid by one parent to another when both parents are custodial parents (joint or shared custody) and they share the child-raising responsibilities. In some cases, a parent with sole custody of his or her children may even be ordered to pay child support to the non-custodial parent to support the children while they are in the care of that parent.

Child support paid by a non-custodial parent or obligor, does not absolve the obligor of the responsibility for costs associated with their child staying with the obligor in their home during visitation. For example, if an obligor pays child support to an obligee, this does not mean that the obligee is responsible for food, shelter, furniture, toiletries, clothes, toys or games, or any of the other child expenses directly associated with the child staying with the non-custodial parent or obligor.

There is no need for the parents to be married, and only paternity and/or maternity (filiation) need to be demonstrated for a child support obligation to be found by a competent court. Child support may also operate through the principle of estoppel where a de facto parent that is in loco parentis for a sufficient time to establish a permanent parental relationship with the child or children.

Support monies collected are expected to be used for the child's expenses, including food, shelter, clothing and educational needs. They are not meant to function as "spending money" for the child. Courts have held that it is acceptable for child support payments to be used to indirectly benefit the custodial parent. For example, child support monies may be used to heat the child's residence, even if this means that other people also benefit from living in a heated home.

Child support orders may earmark funds for specific items for the child, such as school fees, day care or medical expenses. In some cases, obligors parents may pay for these items directly. For example, they may pay tuition fees directly to their child's school, rather than remitting money for the tuition to the obligee. Orders may also require each parent to assume a percentage of expenses for various needs. For instance, custodial parents are required to pay for the first $100 of annual uninsured medical costs incurred by each child. Only then will the courts consider authorizing child-support money from a non-custodial parent to be used for said costs.

Many universities and means tested schools also consider non-custodial parents to be partially responsible for paying college costs, and will consider their income in their financial aid determinations. Non-custodial parents may be ordered by the court to assist with these expenses.

Obligors may receive a medical order that requires them to add their children to their health insurance plans. Both parents are responsible for providing medical insurance for the child/children. If both parents possess health coverage, the child may be added to the more beneficial plan, or use one to supplement the other. Children of active or retired members of the U.S. armed forces are also eligible for health coverage as military dependents, and may be enrolled in the DEERS program at no cost to the obligor.

Child Custody

Child custody and guardianship are legal terms which are used to describe the legal and practical relationship between a parent and his or her child, such as the right of the parent to make decisions for the child, and the parent's duty to care for the child.

Terms such as "residence" and "contact" (known as "visitation") have superseded the concepts of "custody" and "access". Instead of a parent having "custody" of or "access" to a child, a child is now said to "reside" or have "contact" with a parent. The issue of which parent the child will reside with is determined in accordance with the best interests of the child standard.

Family law proceedings which involve issues of residence and contact often generate the most acrimonious disputes. While most parents cooperate when it comes to sharing their children and resort to mediation to settle a dispute, not all do. For those that engage in litigation, there seem to be few limits. Court filings quickly fill with mutual accusations by one parent against the other, including sexual, physical, and emotional abuse, brain-washing, parental alienation syndrome, sabotage, and manipulation. It is these infrequent yet difficult custody battles that become public via the media and sometimes distort the public's perceptions so that the issues appear more prevalent than they are and the court's response appear inadequate.

Courts and legal professionals use the term parenting schedule instead of custody and visitation. This terminology eliminates the distinction between custodial and noncustodial parents, and also attempts to build upon the best interests of the children by crafting schedules that meet the developmental needs of the children. For example, younger children need shorter, more frequent time with parents, whereas older children and teenagers may demand less frequent shifts yet longer blocks of time with each parent.

Forms of custody

Alternating custody is an arrangement whereby the child/children live for an extended period of time with one parent, and then for a similar amount of time with the other parent. While the child/children are with the parent, that parent retains sole authority over the child/children.

Shared custody is an arrangement whereby the child/children live for an extended period of time with one parent, and then for a similar amount of time with the other parent. Opposite to the Alternating custody both parents retains authority over the child/children.

Bird's nest custody is an arrangement whereby the parents go back and forth from a residence in which the child/children reside, placing the burden of upheaval and movement on the parents rather than the child/children.

Joint custody is an arrangement whereby both parents have legal custody and/or both parents have physical custody.

Sole custody is an arrangement whereby only one parent has physical and legal custody of a child.

Split custody is an arrangement whereby one parent has full time custody over some children, and the other parent has full custody over the other children.

Third-party custody is an arrangement in whereby the children do not remain with either biological parent, and are placed under the custody of a third person.

Physical custody involves the day-to-day care of a child and establishes where a child will live. A parent with physical custody has the right to have his/her child live with him/her.

If a child lives with both parents, each parent shares "joint physical custody" and each parent is said to be a "custodial parent". Thus, in joint physical custody, neither parent is said to be a "non-custodial parent." In joint physical custody, actual lodging and care of the child is shared according to a court-ordered custody schedule (also known as a "parenting plan" or "parenting schedule"). In many cases, the term "visitation" is no longer used in this context, but rather is reserved to sole custody orders.

If a child lives with one parent, that parent has "sole physical custody" and is said to be the "custodial parent" whereas the other parent is said to be the "non-custodial parent", but may have visitation rights or "visitation" with his/her child.

Joint physical custody is a court order whereby custody of a child is awarded to both parties. In joint custody, both parents are custodial parents and neither parent is a non-custodial parents; in other words, the child has two custodial parents.

There are two forms of joint custody: joint physical custody, and joint legal custody. In joint legal custody, both parents share the ability to have access to educational, health, and other records, and have equal decision-making status where the welfare of the child is concerned. It is important to note that joint physical custody and joint legal custody are different aspects of custody, and determination is often made separately. It is possible to have joint legal custody, but for one parent to have sole physical custody this is referred to as Custodial Parent and Non-Custodial Parent.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence, also known as domestic abuse, spousal abuse, battering, family violence, and intimate partner violence (IPV), is defined as a pattern of abusive behaviors by one partner against another in an intimate relationship such as marriage, dating, family, or cohabitation. Domestic violence, so defined, has many forms, including physical aggression or assault (hitting, kicking, biting, shoving, restraining, slapping, throwing objects), or threats thereof; sexual abuse; emotional abuse; controlling or domineering; intimidation; stalking; passive/covert abuse (e.g., neglect); and economic deprivation. Alcohol consumption and mental illness can be co-morbid with abuse, and present additional challenges in eliminating domestic violence. Awareness, perception, definition and documentation of domestic violence differ widely from country to country, and from era to era.

Domestic violence and abuse is not limited to obvious physical violence. Domestic violence can also mean endangerment, criminal coercion, kidnapping, unlawful imprisonment, trespassing, harassment, and stalking.


Adoption is a process whereby a person assumes the parenting for another and, in so doing, permanently transfers all rights and responsibilities from the original parent or parents. Unlike guardianship or other systems designed for the care of the young, adoption is intended to effect a permanent change in status and as such requires societal recognition, either through legal and or religious sanction.

Visitation Rights

In family law, contact or visitation is one of the general terms which denotes the level of contact a parent or other significant person in a child's life can have with that child. Contact forms part of the bundle of rights and privileges which a parent may have in relation to any child of the family.

Generally speaking, visitation is considered only a privilege granted to the non-custodial parent of any child of the family. The standard short-distance parenting plan by the family court consists of alternating weekends and some holidays, there are also medium and long-distance parental plans that allow combining these visits into a longer stretches of time to reduce traveling. Parents normally can make variations to the state standard parenting plan or develop a different custom plan if judge approve the changes. There is a law required that court-ordered parenting plans must set forth the minimum amount of parenting time and access a noncustodial parent is entitled to have.

However, the child, at or around the age of 13, depending on the state, may have a right to testify in court about custody and parenting plan arrangements that may have a big impact on court decision.

Parents (and in some jurisdictions grandparents) frequently believe that they have a right to visitation or access; however, courts have used the subjective doctrine of the best interests of the child to deny parental or grandparental access to the child(ren). This is commonly found in cases when custody of the child(ren) is disputed and there is a history of interference with visitation. In such high-conflict cases, there are often allegations of child abuse and/or domestic violence.

Most noncustodial parents have visitation orders that allow the child to visit with them without any supervision, away from the custodial residence. But sometimes when there are safety problems or child abuse history, the court can set up a supervised or "safety-focused" parenting plan. Also, court can order the visitation to be supervised by a social worker, parenting coordinator, guardian ad litem, or other third party while the noncustodial parent visits with the child. This is called supervised visitation.

Parents may also agree share custody and agree to allow visitation without going to court. In these situations, so it is seem like a court order may not be needed, it should be obtained to forestall later disputes about what the parents had previously agreed to, and to allow the courts to have some oversight over the children (which they normally have under statute and under the parens patriae power). If the parenting plan agreed by parties before the court hearing, it is called "stipulated". A Judge can approve the stipulated parenting plan without of any court hearing. Judges normally encourage parties to reach the agreement, rather than go to hearing. By statistic, most family law cases (90-95%) settle before the judge rules on them.

Gerald H. Kahn, LLC • 138 Garnet Park Road, Madison, CT 06443 • (203) 777-0506 Phone • (203) 777-9971 Fax
- Retired Attorney