Thursday, October 30, 2014

Does Connecticut have Permanent Alimony?

In a word “No.”  There is nothing in Connecticut law which uses the term “permanent alimony.” Alimony, regardless of the form it takes, is simply referred to as “alimony.”  Almost all alimony orders terminate on the death of either party or the remarriage of the recipient.  This is commonly referred to as open-ended alimony because it has no specific end date.  Almost all alimony orders issued a court are subject to modification in the event of a substantial change in circumstances or if the payor proves that the recipient is living with another person under circumstances which reduce his or her needs (sometimes called “cohabitation”).  It is common for alimony orders to end on a specified date if alimony has not terminated earlier, but there is no specific term for this in Connecticut law.

Connecticut General Statute Section 46b-82 provides the courts with authority to award alimony. In deciding whether to award alimony, the statute requires a court to consider the following factors in determining the duration and amount of the alimony award: the length of the marriage, the causes for the annulment, dissolution of the marriage or legal separation, the age, health, station, occupation, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate and needs of each of the parties, property distribution award, and if the parties have minor children, the desirability of such parent’s securing employment. The statute makes no explicit reference to the term permanent alimony. 

In Connecticut, open-ended alimony awards are fairly uncommon. The statute was recently amended to require a court awarding open-ended alimony to state with specificity its reasons for making this award. Once the court issues an alimony award, the parties may request modification or termination of that award upon a showing of a substantial change in circumstances pursuant to Connecticut General Statute Section 46b-86

Nationwide, many states have recently considered whether to eliminate “permanent alimony.” In Connecticut, legislation introduced in the 2014 session purported to make it easier to modify or terminate alimony when the paying spouse wants to retire or when the recipient spouse cohabitates with another person.  The bill failed to pass at the end of the session.

With questions on how alimony factors into your divorce, please contact the experienced family law attorneys of Brown, Paindiris & Scott, LLP.

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Connecticut Benefit Corporations Act Brings B-Corps to Connecticut

The Connecticut Benefit Corporations Act became effective on October 1, 2014. This law allows for the creation of a new business structure known as the benefit corporation or what is more commonly referred to as the “b-corp.” A benefit corporation has two functions: to maximize profits and to help society and the environment or to create specific public benefits. Connecticut is now the 26th state to enact laws establishing b-corps.  More than twenty companies registered as b-corps with the Connecticut Secretary of State on the first day the law took effect. 

The non-profit company B Lab was formed in 2006 for the purpose of promoting the b-corp structure. B Lab’s goals in creating the b-corp were twofold: to create a business that could focus on issues beyond shareholder profit and to implement standards to aid consumers in distinguishing between a “good company” and a company that simply advertises as such. An example of a well-known b-corp is Ben & Jerry’s, which became a b-corp in 2012.

Directors and officers in a traditional corporation have a fiduciary duty to make decisions that will maximize shareholder profit. As compared to a traditional corporation, the directors and officers of a b-corp may consider other interests of the corporation, in addition to the maximization of the corporation’s profits. The Benefit Corporations Act provides that directors and officers may consider the following interests when making decisions for the company: the impact on the corporation’s shareholders, the impact on the corporation’s employees and others associated with the corporation, the interests of the customers and related public benefits, community and societal factors, the environment, and short and long-term interests of the corporation. 

The Connecticut b-corp law is unique in one respect. The law contains a legacy provision, which the b-corp can adopt after two years of existence. The legacy provision provides that if the b-corp is dissolved, its assets must go to a charitable organization or other b-corps with a legacy provision. Connecticut is the first state to include the legacy provision within its b-corp laws.

For more information about benefit corporations or for assistance with the formation of a benefit corporation, please contact the experienced business lawyers of Brown, Paindiris & Scott, LLP.