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Debra Ruel practices 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, support and alimony, and the transfer of assets pursuant to a divorce decree. She analyzes 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 coordinates 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 CT.

In addition to traditional litigation, Attorney Ruel also practices 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. She initially handled civil litigation, personal injury, criminal law, family law, real estate closings and workers' compensation hearings. Her practice quickly concentrated in family law, specifically matrimonial law.

Attorney Ruel’s abiding interest in the well-being of children and families inspired her work as a co-founder in 1993 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.

Honors and Awards

  • New England Super Lawyers® - Connecticut: 2017 - 2018

  • American Institute of Family Law Attorneys™ 10 Best Law Firms – Connecticut: 2017

  • 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.

  • American Jurisprudence Book Award, Conflict of Laws, 1983

Representative Clients

  • Divorcing Spouses
  • Parents with Custody Issues
  • Divorced Spouses seeking modification of custody or financial orders

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • The Connecticut Bar Foundation, Sustaining Life Fellow, 2018 - Present
  • The Connecticut Bar Foundation, Life Fellow, 2012 - 2017
  • The Connecticut Bar Foundation, Fellow, 2003 - 2011
  • American Bar Association 1997- Present
  • Connecticut Bar Association 1984 – Present
  • Hartford County Bar Association, Past President, 2012
  • Hartford County Bar Association, Secretary, 2010-2011
  • Hartford County Bar Association, Treasurer, 2009-2010
  • Hartford County Bar Association, Co-Chair, Family Law Committee, 1999-2000
  • Hartford County Bar Association, 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 and Past President, 1986-1999
  • Greater Hartford Legal Aid Foundation, Board Member
  • Hartford County Bar Foundation, Board Member
  • Hartford County Bar Association, Member, 1984 – Present

Pro Bono Activities

  • Connecticut Community Law Center, Mentor, 2018 – Present
  • Children’s Law Center of Connecticut, Co-founder, 1993
  • Children’s Law Center of Connecticut, Board Member, 1993-2014
  • Children’s Law Center of Connecticut, Past President
  • Board Member, Connecticut Valley Girl Scout Council, 2004-2005
  • Special Master appointed by the courts of multiple CT counties, and the specialized Regional Family Trail 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 Positions

  • Rome McGuigan, P. C., Principal, 1997-2015
  • Plepler Barlow & Ruel, Partner,  1984-1997


  • English

Attorney Ruel maintains offices in Hartford and represents her clients in every Judicial District in Connecticut.