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Collaborative Divorce Hartford | Debra C. Ruel

Partner   |   Family Law

Debra C. Ruel

Expertise in Marriage Dissolution and Custody Matters

Debra C. Ruel practiced in the area of dissolution of marriage, custody, premarital agreements and post-judgment enforcement of court orders, including modifications of court orders regarding all aspects of child custody, reproductive rights, support and alimony, and the transfer of assets pursuant to a divorce decree. She analyzed the transfer of retirement assets, including pensions, 401K plans, and executive compensation packages such as stock options, deferred compensation, bonus compensation, restricted stock, and in-kind perquisites awarded by a corporate employer. Attorney Ruel coordinated the valuation of these assets, as well as closely held corporations, and family businesses. All of this with the goal of achieving the best results within our equitable distribution laws in Connecticut.

Advocacy for Collaborative Law Practice

In addition to traditional litigation, Attorney Ruel also practiced Collaborative Law in the milieu of Family Law. This is an alternative dispute resolution practice, which is handled outside of the court system. She co-founded the Collaborative Divorce Lawyers Association, which is a Hartford-based group.

Attorney Ruel’s abiding interest in the well-being of children and families inspired her work as a co-founder of the innovative non-profit Children’s Law Center of CT, whose mission is the delivery of high-quality legal services to indigent children in the middle of high-conflict custody battles.

Areas of Practice

Divorce Litigation

Collaborative Divorce Alternative to Litigation

Consulting Counsel to Divorce Mediation

Custody and Parental Access Litigation

Property and Asset Distribution

Alimony and Child Support

College and Post-Majority Educational Support

Post Judgment Custody, Child Support and Alimony Modifications

Post Judgment Enforcement of Property Distributions and Support Orders

Bar Admissions


U.S. District Court District of Connecticut


University of Connecticut School of Law – Hartford, CT

  • J.D.

College of New Rochelle – New Rochelle, NY

  • Honors: Dean’s List
  • Major: Latin American Studies

Honors and Awards

New England Super Lawyers® – Connecticut: 2017 – Present

June, 2015, Recipient of the Charles J. Parker Legal Services Award, given by the Connecticut Bar Association.
Attorney Ruel’s involvement in the Children’s Law Center led to her being selected for this prestigious award, which is given to a CBA member who has a deep and abiding interest and dedication to delivery of legal services to the disadvantaged in Connecticut, and who has given selflessly of himself or herself in advancing goal of providing legal services to Connecticut residents. This service should cover a period of years and not be a single or isolated activity.

Professional Associations

The Connecticut Bar Foundation, Sustaining Life Fellow, 2018 – Present

  • Life Fellow, 2012 – 2017, Fellow, 2003 – 2011
  • 2018-2019 Fellows Committee Member – 11th Annual John A. Speziale ADR Symposium “Reimagining Dispute Resolution of Family Matters in Connecticut”, held November 2019
  • 2016 – 2021 Fellows Committee Member –History of Connecticut Women in the Legal Profession

American Bar Association

Connecticut Bar Association

Hartford County Bar Association, Past President, 2012, Officer positions 2009 – 2011

  • Co-Chair, Family Law Committee, 1999-2000
  • Co-Chair, Diversity Committee, 2003-2009

Tri-State Delegation, Wingspread Conference on High Conflict Custody Cases, Member, 2003-2004

Governor’s Task Force on Children and Families, Ad Hoc Committee Member, 2002-2003

UCONN Law School Alumni Association, Board Member, Officer positions and Past President through 1999

Greater Hartford Legal Aid Foundation, Board Member, Secretary 2020-2021

  • Committee Member GHLAF “Celebrating Leaders for Justice Gala”, 2018 – 2021

Hartford County Bar Foundation, Board Member

Collaborative Divorce Lawyers Association (co-founder), 2000 – Present

Pro Bono

Children’s Law Center of Connecticut, Co-founder, Board Member, Officer positions and Past President through 2014

Connecticut Valley Girl Scout Council, Board Member 2004-2005

Special Master appointed by the courts of multiple CT counties, and the specialized Regional Family Trial Docket to help resolve cases awaiting trial

Planning committee member appointed by the court to establish the Hartford Early Intervention Program, designed to identify high-conflict custody cases and to devote a team of divorce attorneys and mental health professional to resolve issues.

Past Employment

Rome McGuigan, P. C., Principal

Adjunct Faculty at UCONN School of Law (Lawyering Process) 1996 -1999


“Informed Consent: Divorcing Couples Have Options?” Connecticut Law Tribune, August 2008


Adjunct Faculty, “Lawyering Process”, University of Connecticut School of Law

Adjunct Faculty “Family Law for Paralegals” Manchester Community College