Melissa J. Needle

Needle | Cuda
34 years of experience Practice Areas: Child Custody, Child Support, Divorce, Family

Work Experience

Attorney Melissa Needle is a lifetime Connecticut resident. She was born in New Haven, raised in Fairfield, and now resides in Westport with her family. Attorney Needle is a third generation attorney with deep family roots in Connecticut. Her father, Attorney Charles Needle, was a founder of the Connecticut firm Zeldes, Needle & Cooper in 1971. Since her admission to the Connecticut Bar in 1990, Melissa has exclusively practiced divorce and family law. Melissa started Needle | Cuda: Divorce and Family Law in 2010. The American Institute of Family Law Attorneys named Needle | Cuda a Connecticut Top 10 Best Firm in Client Satisfaction in 2019, 2020, and 2021.

Attorney Needle is an active litigator with an impressive track record. Many of the cases in which Melissa appears involve high net worth divorce property division, complex business valuations, highly contested custody, and petitions for child relocation. She is well-known in Connecticut courts as a forceful, but fair fighter; an attorney with great integrity; and as a worthy adversary who does not shy away from litigation if that path is the best opportunity for her client to reach an equitable solution. Melissa understands that divorce is not just about the dissolution of marriage or stop-gap solutions but helping clients develop and negotiate a comprehensive plan for the rest of their lives.
Needle | Cuda's mission to provide "Guidance that moves lives Forward."

Needle | Cuda: Divorce and Family Law proudly serve the following Connecticut Towns and surrounding communitites: Greenwich, Cos Cob, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Glenville, Greenfield Hill, New Canaan, Old Greenwich, Ridgefield, Redding, Riverside,Southport, Weston, Westport, and Wilton.

Melissa Needle has represented me for over 15 years through a long and frustrating process. I often say, the court system's wheels are rectangular and turn oh so slowly. Melissa has been much more than an attorney, as she counseled me through many emotional roller coaster rides.

My legal team needed to present our case this past spring to the Appellate Court (for a second time) after (a second) judge's ruling. Melissa's partner Alex Cuda did the court document prep & submission work with Melissa's input, and he appeared on my behalf before the Appellate judges in May. The Appellate court just recently issued their decision; 100% in my favor on the multiple issues before them. Hopefully this closes a very painful chapter in my life.

Alex had offered me ample time to read and comment on documents before they were submitted to the court, and because the Appellate hearings were recorded, I got to hear Alex make our case before the 3 Appellate judges.

Given a very limited amount of time to speak, Alex was well prepared and concise in his presentation and with his answers. Alex remained calm, to the point, and non-argumentative under some difficult questioning by the three judges. Alex knew my case and Alex knows the law.

A well built home starts with a good foundation, and Melissa certainly helped make Alex's job easier with the legal groundwork she had laid. But even with all their God given talents, some very talented names are on the all time Major League batter strike out list. (Reggie Jackson is # 1). Alex was terrific when game time arrived.

Alex did a terrific job with Melissa's input on my (hopefully last) court case, and I could not be happier with the legal team of Needle/Cuda.

William Marshall

I would strongly suggest securing Melissa Needle as your attorney before your spouse does. Melissa and her team guided me through each phase of this daunting process with thoughtful care and compassion. Their attention to every detail was extraordinary. Family Law is all Attorney Needle does; and, it showed as Melissa was always two steps ahead of the other side. Melissa manages expectations superbly, was genuinely concerned for my family and aggressively secured a favorable outcome for me. The best decision I made was to hire Melissa Needle.

George Saulnier

I came to Melissa after my divorce and settlement were finalized with the intention to relocate out of state. One meeting with her and her paralegal, and I knew I found a like-minded advocate. Like many in similar circumstances, the situation was emotionally draining and easily one of the most difficult periods of my life. Melissa was sympathetic to the emotional toll a relocation can cause, yet expertly led me through the legal process and CT family court system. Throughout the nearly year long procedure, she kept her eye on the ball and focused on a positive result. She took every step to avoid a trial and worked hard towards a settlement. When it became clear that we were going to trial, she was thorough, prepared, and navigated the Family Court system with certainty and years of experience under her belt. Her expertise in this realm gave me the confidence to endure 2 days of cross examination and 6 days of trial with grace and composure. Thankfully Melissa won my case for me and I was permitted to relocate with my child to another state. Your choice of counsel during these highly emotionally-charged times is the single most important decision you can make. At this vulnerable time in your life, you need an advocate that will consider your short and long-term interests. If Melissa had been the lawyer to handle my divorce, I firmly believe she would have thought through a potential relocation with a solid divorce agreement and I would have avoided the emotional heartache and financial toll of litigation.

I highly recommend Melissa to anyone in a difficult family situation. She and her firm have my highest respect and I will be forever grateful for their guidance.

Anonymous - Westport

When I realized my marriage of 27 years was broken beyond repair, I approached Melissa Needle to represent me. Melissa’s goal was to avoid a trial. “That’s not the way I like to do business,” Melissa said. Some attorneys exploit emotions in order to increase billable hours regardless of the financial and emotional toll on the client. Melissa does not work this way. Unfortunately, my spouse and his attorney chose a path of divisiveness, and we were forced to go to trial. As the trial date approached, Melissa and I worked together to create a plan. She gave me the confidence to testify under oath, even while under cross examination by a very tough attorney. Most important, Melissa never allowed the emotional back story to blur her understanding of the relevant facts–the information Melissa knew would matter to a judge when rendering a decision. Her grasp of the financial details, in my case involving years of deferred compensation earned by my spouse, was superb. Had it not been for the thoroughness of Melissa’s presentation, and her paralegal’s attention to details, the outcome for me would surely have been less favorable.

Melissa knows the Family Courts and the judges who preside over them. She understands how the system works, which is not always the way the client would like it to. But her representation is grounded in realities based on years of experience. Melissa is smart and supportive. She empowers her clients instead of patronizing them. Melissa is experienced and plugged-in. She is tough when she needs to be, but she’s never a bully. Melissa will always choose a fair and amicable path, but will fight for her client’s best interests should a trial become necessary. Melissa Needle is an excellent lawyer. She’s also a highly ethical and empathetic human being. And she has my highest praise.

D.S. - Westport


JD Whittier College School of Law (Los Angeles, CA)

Whittier Law School was founded in 1966 as Beverly Law School to provide an intensive legal education program, especially for women and older students. In 1975, Beverly Law School joined Whittier College, a nationally recognized liberal arts college, forming Whittier College School of Law. The American Bar Association awarded accreditation in 1978, followed by admittance to the Association of American Law Schools in 1987.

In 1997, Whittier Law School moved to Costa Mesa and on April 24, 1998, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy formally dedicated the campus.




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