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Melissa  Needle

Melissa Needle

Needle | Cuda: Guidance and Direction to Move Forward
  • Divorce, Family Law
  • Connecticut, New York
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Attorney Melissa J. Needle focuses her practice exclusively on family law. Based in Westport, Connecticut, she provides astute advice and counsel to clients throughout Fairfield County--serving Westport, Greenwich, New Canaan, Wilton, Darien, and Fairfield. Ms. Needle has been admitted to practice before all Connecticut state courts since 1990, and she is also admitted to practice in New York.

Attorney Needle's approach strikes a hard-to-find balance between aggressive client representation and the preservation family. Before starting Needle|Cuda, Attorney Needle found that most firms in the market practiced at the extreme ends of the spectrum -- either being overly aggressive or collaborative to a fault.  Needle|Cuda strives to deliver a service that brings clients the best of both worlds to its clients because the long-term dynamic and health of your family is worth protecting.

Attorney Needle specializes is high net worth divorces and deals frequently with closely held family businesses, hedge fund investments/ownership interests, private equity ownership interests, complex family trusts, and other complex assets valuations. A forceful courtroom advocate and expert family law litigator, Attorney Needle has also worked on highly contested custody and relocation disputes, although she strives to help her clients come to an agreement in a less-adversarial manner such as mediation when that is possible.

Ms. Needle's experience has also encompassed the preparation of prenuptial and postnuptial agreements and various types of protective orders for domestic violence victims.  Attorney Needle also helps clients who have already divorced and who are seeking enforcement of or modifications to existing support and parenting orders.

Practice Areas
    Collaborative Law, Contested Divorce, Military Divorce, Property Division, Same Sex Divorce, Spousal Support & Alimony, Uncontested Divorce
    Family Law
    Adoption, Child Custody, Child Support, Father's Rights, Guardianship & Conservatorship, Paternity, Prenups & Marital Agreements, Restraining Orders, Same Sex Family Law
Video Conferencing
  • Google Meet
  • Zoom
  • Microsoft Teams
  • WebEx
  • Credit Cards Accepted
Jurisdictions Admitted to Practice
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New York
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  • English: Spoken, Written
Professional Experience
Needle | Cuda
Whittier Law School
J.D. (1990) | Law
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Tufts University
B.A. (1987) | English
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Clients’ Choice Award
Professional Associations
New York State Bar  # 2434157
- Current
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Connectuct Bar Association
- Current
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American Bar Association  # 01302717
- Current
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Speaking Engagements
Connecticut Bar Association, Annual Conference, Hartford, CT
Speaker at the Earning Capacity Session
Connecticut Bar Association, Annual Conference, Hartford, CT
Speaker at the Earning Capacity Session
Top 10 Family Law Attorney
Attorney and Practice Magazine
A+ Rating
Better Business Bureau - BBB
10 Best Attorney - Connecticut
American Institute of Family Lawyers
10 Best Law Firm - Connecticut
American Institute of Family Lawyers
Super Lawyers
Super Lawyers - Thomson Reuters
10 Best Attorney - Connecticut
American Institute of Family Lawyers
Websites & Blogs
Legal Answers
2 Questions Answered
Q. Can I hire a GAL for my grandchildren so that I know their best interests are being presented?
A: GAL's are either appointed by the Court in a Divorce or Family Law Action or determined by mutual agreement of the Parties and "approved" by the Court. WHAT IS A GUARDIAN AD LITEM (GAL)? A Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) is a court appointed individual, by either the successful motion of a party or when the family court determines a GAL is necessary to advocate for the best interests of the child. The court considers appointment of a GAL when parties (parents) are unable to resolve a parenting or child related dispute, and they are frequently appointed when the matter is a highly contested custody dispute. The GAL’s role is different from that of an Attorney for a Minor Child (AMC). GALs ONLY represents the best interests of the child, and may testify as a witness, providing the court with what they believe to the best interests of the child based, while an AMC represents both a child legal interests AND best interests, but does not testify before the court. DOES A GUARDIAN AD LITEM (GAL) NEED TO BE A LICENSED ATTORNEY? Only individuals who have completed the comprehensive training program outlined in the Connecticut Judicial Branch’s Practice Book are eligible to be a GAL. Unlike AMCs, GALs do not have to be attorneys. WHAT IS THE ROLE OF A GUARDIAN AD LITEM (GAL)? A GAL only represents the best interests of the child. The court may require the GAL to perform certain functions. Some of the functions could be: Investigate facts; Interview the parties, the child, and close relatives; Review files and records; Talk to teachers, coaches, and people involved in the lives of the children; Speak with medical professionals, including mental health providers; Participate in court hearings; Make recommendations to the court with respect to visitation and the mechanics of a proposed parenting plan; Encourage settlement of disputes between the parties; The court may also need the GAL to perform other functions to promote the best interests of the child. The court will delineate the role of the GAL in each case, which role will be made an order of the court. Who pays the GAL? The parties to the case (parents) pay the fees for the GAL. Each party is required to submit a financial affidavit to the court prior to and/or simultaneously with the appointment of a GAL. The court will consider each party’s financial situation and order how the payment is to be divided between them. In some cases, the parties may qualify for the appointment of a GAL that is paid for by the state, or the GAL fees may be on a sliding scale based on financial resources of the parties.
Q. What’s my rights as a grandparent
A: Do Grandparents Have Visitation Rights? (Connecticut) Yes, grandparents can petition the courts for visitation rights just as any third party. The courts will use the same standard of the child’s best interest to determine if the grandparents should have visitation rights. In order to be awarded visitation, the grandparents must also convey to the court that they have a parent like relationship with the child and that depriving them of visitation rights would significantly affect the child.
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Contact & Map
Needle | Cuda Divorce and Family Law
830 Post Road East Suite 301
Westport, CT 06880
Telephone: (203) 557-9500
Fax: (203) 557-9504
Monday: 8:30 AM - 5:30 PM
Tuesday: 8:30 AM - 5:30 PM (Today)
Wednesday: 8:30 AM - 5:30 PM
Thursday: 8:30 AM - 5:30 PM
Friday: 8:30 AM - 5:30 PM
Saturday: Closed
Sunday: Closed
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