BARBARA BAUER v. STEVEN J. BAUER, SC 18846

Judicial District of Hartford

 

      Dissolution of Marriage; Whether Appellate Court Properly Concluded that Trial Court's Clarification Regarding the Division of the Defendant's Pension Accounts Amounted to an Impermissible Modification of the Dissolution Judgment.  In 2005, the trial court dissolved the parties' marriage and rendered various financial orders.  In 2008, the plaintiff filed a motion for contempt, alleging that the defendant had failed to split his pension and annuity plans with her in accordance with the dissolution judgment.  The plaintiff subsequently learned that the defendant disputed whether the judgment called for a division of his pension accounts, and, in 2009, she moved for a clarification of the judgment.  In granting her motion for clarification, the trial court found that there was an ambiguity or incompleteness in the dissolution judgment in that, while the trial court's memorandum of decision acknowledged that the parties had agreed to split equally the defendant's pension accounts, that agreement was not repeated in the court's enumerated orders.  In light of the ambiguity, the trial court clarified that, pursuant to the parties' agreement, the defendant was ordered to split the accounts with the plaintiff.  The defendant appealed to the Appellate Court (130 Conn. App. 185), which reversed the trial court's ruling.  The Appellate Court determined that, because the trial court had never issued an order dividing the defendant's pension accounts, there was no ambiguity in the judgment to be resolved by clarification.  It therefore held that the trial court's ruling on the motion for clarification constituted an improper modification of the dissolution judgment.  In this appeal, the Supreme Court will determine whether the Appellate Court's ruling was proper.