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Family Law

Family Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Roy, Christopher

 http://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=629

AC38685 - Commissioner of Social Services v. Zarnetski ("The plaintiff, the Commissioner of Social Services, appeals from the judgment rendered by the trial court affirming the order of the Family Support Magistrate (magistrate) dismissing the plaintiff’s support petition for failure to provide a copy of the acknowledgment of paternity. The plaintiff claims that the trial court erred in affirming the order of the magistrate because the plaintiff was not required to provide a copy of the acknowledgment of paternity for the magistrate to proceed on the support petition. We agree with the plaintiff and, accordingly, reverse the judgment of the trial court.")


Declaratory Judgment Law Supreme Court Opinion

   by Roy, Christopher

 http://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=604

SC19432, SC19433 - Ferri v. Powell-Ferri ("These appeals arise from a declaratory judgment action filed by the plaintiffs, Michael J. Ferri and Anthony J. Medaglia, who are the trustees of a trust created by Paul John Ferri, Sr., in 1983 (1983 trust) solely for the benefit of his son, the defendant, Paul John Ferri, Jr. (Ferri). Specifically, the plaintiffs sought a judgment declaring that they were authorized to decant certain assets from the 1983 trust and that the named defendant, Nancy Powell-Ferri, had no right, title, or interest in those assets. On appeal, the plaintiffs and Ferri assert, inter alia, that the trial court incorrectly concluded that the plaintiffs did not have authority to decant the 1983 trust because Ferri had a vested and irrevocable interest in its assets. We disagree. In light of the opinion issued by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in response to this court’s certified questions; see Ferri v. Powell-Ferri, 476 Mass. 651, 72 N.E.3d 541 (2017); we conclude that, under Massachusetts law, it was proper for the plaintiffs to have decanted assets from the 1983 trust, and, therefore, we reverse the judgment of the trial court on that issue. We also reverse the trial court’s award of attorney’s fees to Powell-Ferri in this matter. We affirm the judgment of the trial court in all other aspects.")


Family Law Supreme and Appellate Court Opinions

   by Roy, Christopher

 http://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=603

SC19434 - Powell-Ferri v. Ferri ("This appeal arises from an action dissolving the marriage of the plaintiff, Nancy Powell-Ferri, and the defendant, Paul John Ferri, Jr. (Ferri). On appeal, Powell-Ferri challenges numerous financial orders entered by the trial court. Specifically, Powell-Ferri asserts that the trial court incorrectly (1) determined that she did not contribute to a trust created by Ferri’s father, Paul John Ferri, Sr., in 1983 (1983 trust), (2) denied her motion for contempt, (3) determined that a trust created in 2011 (2011 trust) was not marital asset, and (4) structured the award of attorney’s fees. We disagree with Powell-Ferri and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of the trial court.")

AC38740 - Buehler v. Buehler ("The defendant, Lilach Buehler, appeals from the postjudgment order of the trial court denying in part her motion for contempt against the plaintiff, Richard Buehler, after concluding that she had failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the plaintiff had wilfully and intentionally violated a clear and unambiguous order regarding payment for their children’s extracurricular activities. On appeal, the defendant claims that the court improperly determined that the extracurricular expenses were unreasonable because there had been no meaningful discussion between the parties prior to the incurrence of those costs. We conclude that the record is inadequate for our review, and, accordingly, we decline to review this claim and affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Motion Practice in Family Matters - 2017 edition

   by Townsend, Karen

 http://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=594

The 2017 edition of Motion Practice in Family Matters has been posted to our research guides page.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Section 1: Motions and Requests..........................................................................3

Section 2: Transfer of Action in Family Matters.....................................................6

Table 1: Motion for Exclusive Possession of Home...............................................9

Section 3: Request for Conciliation.......................................................................11

Section 4: Motion to Open Judgment in a Family Matter......................................14




Family Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Roy, Christopher

 http://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=589

AC38070 - Medeiros v. Medeiros ("In this postdissolution proceeding, the defendant, David D. Medeiros, appeals from the judgment of the trial court finding him in contempt for violating an order providing the plaintiff, Christine Medeiros, with access to their minor child. The defendant claims that the court committed error in (1) failing to allow him a fair opportunity to present a defense to the plaintiff’s motion for contempt; (2) failing to require that the evidence establishing its finding of contempt met the required clear and convincing standard of proof; (3) preventing the defendant from testifying as to statements made to him by the minor child about events occurring during a visit with the plaintiff; and (4) imposing certain sanctions, including monetary fines. We agree with the defendant that the monetary fines imposed on him by the court were improper, accordingly, we reverse that part of the judgment of the trial court. The judgment is affirmed in all other respects.")


Family Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Zigadto, Janet

 http://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=569

AC38679 - DiGiuseppe v. DiGiuseppe ("The defendant . . . appeals from the judgment of the trial court rendered when it denied a postdissolution motion for contempt filed by the plaintiff . . . and ordered him to pay what he owed for his children's college expenses. The issue on appeal concerns the extent of the defendant's obligation to pay for the college expenses of the parties' two children beyond what is covered by Connecticut Higher Education Trust (CHET) accounts that the parties had established for each of them. The defendant claims that the court erred in (1) not finding a latent ambiguity in the provision of the parties' separation agreement (agreement) regarding college expenses when examining it in conjunction with another document signed by the parties entitled 'Education Support Orders [General Statutes § 46b-56c]' (form), which would render the agreement unenforceable, and (2) its determination that the defendant is responsible for 100 percent of college expenses of the two children without limitation. We conclude that the defendant failed to preserve either of his claims before the trial court, and, therefore, we decline to review them.")


Family Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Roy, Christopher

 http://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=558

AC37755 - Lederle v. Spivey ("The defendant, Stevan Spivey, appeals from the judgment of the trial court awarding $30,000 in attorney’s fees to the plaintiff, Catherine Lederle. On appeal, the defendant claims that the court abused its discretion in (1) awarding attorney’s fees based on its conclusion that his claims in a prior appeal were entirely without color and that he acted in bad faith, and (2) finding that an award of $30,000 in attorney’s fees was reasonable under the circumstances of this case. We agree with the defendant’s first claim that the court abused its discretion in awarding attorney’s fees. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment awarding the plaintiff $30,000 in attorney’s fees and remand the matter for a determination of whether the defendant’s claims in his previous appeal were entirely without color.")


Judicial Branch Now Publishing Headnotes for its Supreme & Appellate Court Opinions

   by Booth, George

 http://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=534

The Judicial Branch has announced that it is now publishing a syllabus (headnote) at the top of each Supreme and Appellate Court opinion:

The Judicial Branch is now posting online headnotes for both Supreme and Appellate Court opinions. These headnotes, which accompany individual Supreme and Appellate Court decisions, include a short summary of the ruling and the procedural history of a case. The Reporter of Judicial Decisions prepares the headnotes, which are not part of the opinion. As such, the opinion alone should be relied upon for the reasoning behind the decision [Emphasis added].

Subscribe to a case law category (or categories) of your choice through our Email Digest or RSS delivery services to receive the latest cases from the Supreme or Appellate Courts delivered directly to your inbox.


Family Law Supreme Court Opinion

   by Zigadto, Janet

 http://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=520

SC19635 - O'Brien v. O'Brien ("In this certified appeal arising from a marital dissolution action, we must determine whether a trial court properly may consider a party's violation of a court order when distributing marital property, even if the trial court finds that the violation is not contemptuous. The plaintiff, Michael J. O'Brien, filed this action to dissolve his marriage to the defendant, Kathleen E. O'Brien. During the pendency of the action, the plaintiff sold shares of stock and exercised certain stock options without first receiving permission from either the defendant or the trial court, as required by Practice Book § 25-5, which also provides that a party who fails to obey the orders automatically entered thereunder may be held in contempt of court. The trial court found that the plaintiff's transactions violated those orders but did not hold the plaintiff in contempt because the court concluded the violations were not wilful. Nevertheless, because the transactions had caused a significant loss to the marital estate, the court considered that loss when it distributed the marital property between the parties, awarding a greater than even distribution to the defendant. On appeal, the Appellate Court concluded that, in the absence of a finding of contempt, the trial court lacked the authority to afford the defendant a remedy for the plaintiff's violation of the automatic orders. See O'Brien v. O'Brien, 161 Conn. App. 575, 591, 128 A.3d 595 (2015). We thereafter granted the defendant's petition for certification to appeal, limited to the following issue: 'Did the Appellate Court correctly determine that the trial court abused its discretion when it considered the plaintiff's purported violations of the automatic orders in its decision dividing marital assets [even though the court did not hold the plaintiff in contempt of court for those violations]?' O'Brien v. O'Brien, 320 Conn. 916, 131 A.3d 751 (2016). We agree with the defendant that the trial court properly exercised its discretion in considering the plaintiff's violations of the automatic orders in its division of the marital assets, and, therefore, we reverse the judgment of the Appellate Court.")


Family Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Roy, Christopher

 http://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=496

AC38705 - Cimino v. Cimino ("The plaintiff, Gina Cimino, appeals from the judgment of the trial court denying her motion to open and vacate the judgment dissolving her marriage to the defendant, Joseph Cimino. On appeal, she argues that (1) the dissolution court committed plain error in its valuation of the defendant’s pension and (2) the trial court abused its discretion in denying her motion to open the judgment. We decline to address the claim that the dissolution court committed plain error and affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Family Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Roy, Christopher

 http://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=482

AC36604 - Sousa v. Sousa ("A party seeking to open a judgment beyond the passage of the four month limitation period from its rendering provided by General Statutes § 52-212a under an exception for judgments procured by fraud, bears the burden of proving fraud in all of its elements by clear and convincing evidence. At the heart of this appeal is whether the defendant, Donna M. Sousa, proved by clear and convincing evidence that the plaintiff, Eric P. Sousa, knew that the $32,698.82 he valued his pension at when the parties were divorced in 2001 was incorrect. The trial court found that the defendant failed to carry this burden. We affirm that judgment.")


Family Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Roy, Christopher

 http://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=479

AC38165 - Bauer v. Bauer ("The plaintiff, Mary L. Bauer, appeals from the postjudgment rulings of the trial court denying her motion for contempt and granting the motion of the defendant, Jeffrey W. Bauer, for modification of his alimony obligation. The plaintiff claims that the court improperly (1) determined that the defendant’s failure to pay court-ordered alimony was not wilful, (2) failed to conclude that the defendant’s conduct was culpable when considering his motion for modification, and (3) failed to admit certain evidence that she offered relative to the criteria set forth in General Statutes § 46b-82. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Family Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Mazur, Catherine

 http://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=463

AC38753 - Rinfret v. Porter ("The dispositive issue in this appeal is whether the trial court improperly awarded the defendant, Melissa Jayne Porter, her attorney's fees under the bad faith exception to the 'American rule' by broadly concluding that the underlying custody action brought by the plaintiff, Peter Alan Rinfret, was both (1) 'entirely without color' and (2) taken in bad faith. We conclude that the court did not find with adequate specificity that the plaintiff's actions were entirely without color. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment awarding the defendant $87,548.11 in attorney's fees and remand the matter for further proceedings in accordance with this opinion.")


Family Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Roy, Christopher

 http://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=453

AC38821 - Pressley v. Johnson ("This appeal stems from postdissolution proceedings in which the plaintiff, Jessica Lynn Pressley, moved that the defendant, Thomas H. Johnson III, be found in contempt of an order in the parties’ marital dissolution judgment requiring him to pay one half of work related child care expenses for the parties’ minor children. The plaintiff claims that the trial court erred in denying her motion for contempt and finding that the defendant did not owe her an arrearage for the work related child care expenses she had incurred. We agree with the plaintiff and thus reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand the matter for further proceedings.")


Family Law Research Guides Updated in April 2017

   by Roy, Christopher

 http://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=433

The following family law research guides were updated in April and have been posted to our research guides page.

04/28/2017 - Enforcement of Family and Foreign Matrimonial Judgments
04/27/2017 - Marriage in Connecticut
04/13/2017 - Paternity Actions in Connecticut
04/13/2017 - Child Visitation in Connecticut


Family Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Roy, Christopher

 http://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=431

AC38300 - LeSueur v. LeSueur ("In this postdissolution marital matter, the defendant, Andrew LeSueur, appeals from the judgment of the trial court modifying custody and child support orders that had been entered at the time of the dissolution. The defendant contends that the court erred in failing to (1) grant a child support overpayment credit retroactive to any period prior to December 9, 2014, and (2) award child support to the defendant for the time period between June, 2014, and the end of the 2016 school year. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Family Law Appellate Court Opinions

   by Roy, Christopher

 http://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=413

AC38402 - Watkins v. Demos ("The plaintiff, Beverly Watkins, appeals from the postjudgment orders of the court entered after the dissolution of her marriage to the defendant, John Nicholas Demos. The plaintiff challenges the trial court’s denial of her postjudgment motion for contempt and her motion to open the judgment. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.")

AC38379 - Horey v. Horey ("The defendant, Joyce A. Horey, appeals from the financial orders relating to the judgment of the trial court dissolving her marriage to the plaintiff, Alan L. Horey. On appeal, the defendant claims that the trial court abused its discretion by entering an alimony order that terminates upon the sale of the plaintiff’s business. She argues that such a time limited alimony order is inconsistent with the facts found by the court, and that the court, therefore, reasonably could not have concluded as it did. For the reasons that follow, we disagree and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Family Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Booth, George

 http://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=410

AC38584 - Richman v. Wallman (Dissolution of marriage; "The self-represented plaintiff, Terri L. Richman, appeals from the judgment of the trial court ordering her to sign the revised qualified domestic relations orders (QDROs) that were prepared to divide the retirement assets of her former husband, the defendant, Scott A. Wallman, between the two parties. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the court (1) improperly held her in contempt, and (2) improperly modified the distribution of the parties' property without the requisite subject matter jurisdiction to do so. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


New Divorce Navigator tool from the Judicial Branch

   by Mazur, Catherine

 http://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=407

The Judicial Branch has created a new online resource designed to help make the divorce process clearer and easier to navigate.

From the Press Release:

A newly developed “Divorce Navigator” is available to the public through the Judicial Branch’s website to assist in simplifying the divorce process....

The Divorce Navigator is designed to help parties decide which divorce process is best for them through a series of questions. Based on answers the parties provide, this online resource will direct them toward a divorce process that may best suit their situation.

For links to the law and other legal resources on divorce in Connecticut, see our Law about Divorce webpage.


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