Top Ten Family Law Cases – C05

Family Law Track
Family Law Section

Session C: 2:15 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.

This fast-paced program addresses the ten “most important” family law decisions (as voted by practitioners), ten evidentiary hearing tips, ten legal citations practitioners should memorize, and ten common misperceptions about psychology that impact family cases. 

Peter M. Bryniczka
, Schoonmaker George & Blomberg PC, Old Greenwich

Attorney Bryniczka became a Partner of the firm in January 2013. He joined the firm as an Associate in 2004. Attorney Bryniczka received his B.A. from Wesleyan University in 2001 and received his J.D. from The University of Connecticut School of Law in 2004. While in law school, Attorney Bryniczka was an Associate Editor of the Connecticut Journal of International Law and co-founder of the UCONN Law Ice Hockey Team.

Attorney Bryniczka was admitted to practice in Connecticut in November 2004. He is a member of the Fairfield County Bar Association, the Connecticut Bar Association, and the American Bar Association and the Family Law sections of these Bar Associations.

Attorney Bryniczka is a past Co-Chair of the Family Law Section of the Fairfield County Bar Association where he organized monthly CLE presentations attended by family lawyers and serves currently as a Board Member of the Greenwich Bar Association.

Attorney Bryniczka regularly handles complex family law matters and has served since 2011 as a Special Master in the Stamford/Norwalk judicial district, assisting other attorneys and parties in resolving their family cases. He also serves as a Discovery Special Master and as an attorney for Minor Children/GAL representing children in family law cases

Amy C. MacNamara, Schoonmaker George & Blomberg PC, Old Greenwich

Attorney MacNamara received her B.A., magna cum laude, from Fordham University in 2006. She received her J.D., cum laude, from Quinnipiac University School of Law in 2009, where she earned an Academic Concentration, with honors, in Family and Juvenile Law.

Attorney MacNamara handles complex matrimonial and family law matters including matters involving significant assets and complex child custody issues and cases that involve substance abuse and mental health issues.  Attorney MacNamara is certified to act as a Guardian ad Litem and Attorney for the Minor Child in Connecticut and was the founding research assistant for the Committee for the Training of Professionals Serving as Guardians ad Litem and Attorneys for Minor Children, commonly known as the “GAL Training Academy.”  This training is now required for all professionals wishing to serve as Guardians ad Litem or Attorneys for Minor Children in Connecticut.

In 2015, Attorney MacNamara was nominated and confirmed as the Treasurer of the Connecticut Bar Association’s Family Law Section. Attorney MacNamara also organizes and hosts seminars on the field of family law on a monthly basis for the Fairfield County Bar Association’s Family Law Section.  She has served as a co-chair of the section since 2012. She is the co-editor of Connecticut Family Law Citations: A Reference Guide to Connecticut Family Law Decisions by Cynthia C. George and recently co-authored and co-edited Library of Connecticut Family Law Forms, which was published by the Connecticut Law Tribune.

Attorney MacNamara was recently selected as a 2015 Super Lawyers Connecticut Rising Star.*  She was also named a 2013 “New Leader in the Law” by the Connecticut Law Tribune.

Hon. Thomas D. Colin
, State of Connecticut Superior Court, Stamford-Norwalk District

Hon. Colin has been a Connecticut Superior Court Judge since March of 2013 when he was appointed by Governor Dannel Malloy.   He has served in criminal court in the Waterbury and Stamford/Norwalk Judicial Districts.  From September of 2013 until June of 2016, Judge Colin presided over the criminal domestic violence docket in Stamford and handled criminal jury and bench trials. 

Since June of 2014, he has also served as the Presiding Judge for family matters in Stamford and is currently the Assistant Administrative Judge for the Stamford/Norwalk Judicial District.  He has lectured on the subject of evidence and other matters at the Connecticut Judges Institute and is a member of the Evidence Oversight Committee of the Connecticut Supreme Court.  Prior to his appointment to the bench, he was in private practice, primarily in Greenwich with the firm of Schoonmaker, George & Colin, P.C., with a focus on family law litigation.  Judge Colin is also an adjunct faculty member at the Quinnipiac School of Law in North Haven, Connecticut.  


Eric Broder, Broder & Orland LLC, Westport

Attorney Broder is a founding member and partner at BRODER & ORLAND LLC. He is an AV Preeminent ™ rated attorney by Martindale-Hubbell®, the highest possible rating in both legal ability and ethical standards, earned through a strenuous peer and judicial review procedure. He has also been designated a “Top Lawyer” in three categories: Arbitration and Mediation, Family Law, and Matrimonial Law in Westport, Greenwich, New Canaan/Darien and Fairfield Magazines. Eric has been selected to the 2010, 2013-2016 Connecticut Super Lawyers® List in the area of Family Law. Each year, no more than 5% of the lawyers in the state are selected to receive this honor; Super Lawyers Selection Process.

Eric has extensive experience with all divorce-related issues, including child custody, alimony and child support, property distribution, business valuation, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements and post-judgment issues. He has tried many complex and difficult cases in the Connecticut courts. Drawing upon his trial and litigation experience enables him to serve as an effective mediator as well.

Eric has appeared as a legal commentator on NBC’s Today Show, News 12 Connecticut and regularly speaks to attorneys, accountants, financial professionals, therapists and the general public on family and matrimonial issues. He recently delivered a presentation to the Fairfield County Family Bar based on the results of the state-wide survey he developed, entitled “You Be the Judge.”This program won high acclaim and resulted in Eric being featured in the “On the Record” section of the February 11, 2013, issue of the Connecticut Law Tribune.


Kate W. Haakonsen, Brown Paindiris & Scott LLC, Glastonbury

Attorney Haakonsen has practiced law since 1978, mediation since 1995 and collaborative divorce since 2006.  Her principal areas of practice are family law, mediation and collaborative law.  She is a senior partner at Brown, Paindiris & Scott LLP, working primarily in the firm’s Glastonbury office.  Kate also has experience in civil litigation, real estate and defense of lawyer grievances and unauthorized practice of law complaints.  She mediated EEO disputes for the USPS as an outside contractor.  She has spoken at law and mediation conferences around New England.

Kate is a member of the Connecticut Bar Association, where she serves on the Family Section Executive and Legislative Committees and was Chair of the Section for 2012-2013; the Hartford County Bar Association where she served as co-chair of the Family Law Committee; the Academy of Professional Family Mediators; ABA; and the Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association.  She is a charter member and past president of the Connecticut Council for Non-Adversarial Divorce and co-author of the Standards of Practice for Mediators adopted by that group.  Kate is a founding member of Connecticut Collaborative Divorce Group, a collaborative practice group in the Hartford area, and the International Association of Collaborative Professionals.  Since the beginning of the Special Masters program, Kate has served as a master in the Hartford, New Britain, Middlesex and Tolland Judicial District Family Divisions and the Regional Custody Docket and also served as an Attorney Trial Referee for civil matters in the Hartford Judicial District.  She has served in the Early Intervention Program for contested custody matters in Hartford. Kate earned a B.A. cum laude from Ursinus College and a J.D. from the University of Connecticut School of Law.  She is admitted to practice in Connecticut and in the U.S. District Court for Connecticut, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Sam Schoonmaker, Schoonmaker Legal Group LLC, Stamford

Attorney Schoonmaker is the founding member of The Schoonmaker Legal Group, LLC, a law firm that is dedicated to the practice of appellate and family law. From 1996 until starting The Schoonmaker Legal Group, LLC in 2007, he was a partner with Schoonmaker, George & Colin in Greenwich. There he handled complex financial, custody and appellate matters in the family law field. Prior to joining Schoonmaker, George & Colin he was an associate in the litigation department at Day, Berry & Howard.

Mr. Shoonmaker graduated from Yale College (B.A. 1990, magna cum laude), Cambridge University (M.Phil.191) and Columbia University School of Law (J.D.1994) 

Mr. Schoonmaker served in numerous leadership positions in bar associations, including three separate one-year appointments as Financial Officer of the American Bar Association’s Family Law Section, and five years on the Section’s Council. He served as co-chair of the Section’s Congressional Relations Committee, helped establish the ABA Child Custody Pro Bono Project, and in 2002 received the Chair’s Award for the highest level of meritorious service.

In 2004 he co-chaired the ABA Family Law Section’s Continuing Legal Education Committee, a position in which he was responsible for planning, producing and implementing legal education programs nationally. He was inducted into the American Counsel Association in 2002 and the American Bar Foundation in 2007. He is a member of the Connecticut bar and the bar of the United States Supreme Court.


Linda S. Smith, Ph.D., Child Custody Analytics, Fairfield

Dr. Smith is the co-founder of Child Custody Analytics, a company that specializes in providing child custody expert information, documents and forms, and research to family lawyers. She is a forensic psychologist with more than two decades of expertise in child custody matters. Through past education and training at Columbia University and academic appointments at Harvard Medical School and Tufts University Medical Center, she understands the important contributions psychological research brings to family law practices. Dr. Smith has been invited as a national and local speaker for her child custody expertise. Audiences have included family lawyers, AAML fellows, ABA Family Law Section, the Connecticut Bar Association, family court judges, and divorcing parents.

As a consulting and testimonial expert, she has been retained to assist with international and U.S. based contested custody cases on matters involving relocation, Hague Convention, parental alienation, addiction, and many more child custody issues. Dr. Smith has a private practice in Fairfield, CT where she provides a range of forensic psychological services, including custody evaluations, forensic-based therapeutic services, Parenting Coordination, and testimonial and non-testimonial expert services.  






CLE Credit: 1.5 Hours (AOP)