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Family Law

Family Law Appellate Court Opinions

   by Roy, Christopher

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=2999

AC39452, AC39814 - Thomasi v. Thomasi ("These appeals arise from the dissolution of marriage between the plaintiff, Tracy M. Thomasi, and the defendant, Edward J. Thomasi, Sr. In AC 39452, the plaintiff appeals from the postdissolution order of the trial court regarding the division of the defendant’s defined benefit pension plan. In her appeal, the plaintiff argues that the court erred in determining that the term ‘marital portion,’ as used in the parties’ marital dissolution agreement regarding a division of the defendant’s defined benefit pension plan, clearly and unambiguously provided for the coverture method to be utilized in calculating the marital portion. We conclude that the term, under the limited circumstances of this case, contains a latent ambiguity, and, accordingly, reverse the judgment of the trial court.")

AC39208 - Asia M. v. Geoffrey M. ("The state of Connecticut appeals from the judgments of the trial court rendered in favor of the plaintiff, Geoffrey M., Jr., affirming in part the decision of the family support magistrate (magistrate) that opened an acknowledgment of paternity. On appeal, the state claims that the court erred in concluding that (1) Ragin v. Lee, 78 Conn. App. 848, 829 A.2d 93 (2003), provided a nonstatutory ground for opening an acknowledgment of paternity, apart from the statutory grounds set forth in General Statutes (Rev. to 2011) § 46b-172 (a) (2); and (2) the magistrate had the inherent authority to grant the plaintiff’s motion to open the judgment on the basis of the best interests of the child. We agree with the department and, accordingly, reverse the judgments of the trial court.")

AC39643 - Battistotti v. Suzanne A. ("In this protracted and bitterly contested family matter, the plaintiff father, Marco Battistotti, appeals from the judgment rendered by the court following a ten day trial on his custody action filed against the defendant mother, Suzanne A. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the court: (1) improperly found that his earning capacity was $174,000 per year, (2) erred in failing to consider how its orders impacted his expenses, particularly the rental of an apartment in Greenwich used solely for parenting time, and (3) abused its discretion in requiring that the plaintiff’s parenting time take place only within the town of Greenwich. We agree with the plaintiff’s second claim and conclude that the trial court abused its discretion. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment with respect to the child support orders and remand the matter for further proceedings on the issue of calculation of child support. We affirm the judgment in all other respects.")


Family Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Mazur, Catherine

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=2992

AC39025 - Murphy v. Murphy ("The plaintiff, Robert R. Murphy, appeals from the judgment of the trial court denying his postjudgment motion, as amended, to modify the judgment rendered in the parties' dissolution action. In that motion he sought, pursuant to paragraph 12 (d) of the parties' separation agreement, which was incorporated into the judgment, to terminate his alimony obligation to the defendant, Jamie R. Murphy, because of her alleged cohabitation with her boyfriend. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the court applied an improper legal standard as a prerequisite for the termination of alimony under General Statutes § 46b-86 (b).We agree and, accordingly, reverse the judgment of the court and remand the case for further proceedings.")


Family Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Roy, Christopher

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=2982

AC39014 - Steller v. Steller ("The plaintiff, Linda Steller, appeals from the judgment of the trial court modifying the alimony, life insurance, and disability insurance obligations of the defendant, Rodney Steller. The plaintiff claims that the trial court: (1) improperly determined that the defendant’s earning capacity was less than his actual income and then based its alimony order on that determination; (2) made clearly erroneous findings, which were unsupported by the evidence, regarding the defendant’s gross and net earning capacities, her earning capacity, and the amount she would receive from the purported sale of the defendant’s dental practice later that year; (3) failed to apply the proper legal principles, in accordance with General Statutes § 46b-82 and relevant case law, for resolving a motion for modification of alimony; and (4) abused its discretion by lowering the defendant’s disability and life insurance obligations. We agree with the plaintiff on the second claim and reverse the judgment of the trial court.")


Family Law Appellate Court Opinions

   by Booth, George

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=2966

AC39772 - Hirschfeld v. Machinist (Dissolution of marriage; "The plaintiff, Caroline Hirschfeld, appeals from the judgment of the trial court rendered on three postjudgment motions filed by the plaintiff in this dissolution action. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the court erred by: (1) failing to find the defendant, Robert B. Machinist, in contempt for not complying with the property division terms of the separation agreement; (2) failing to find the defendant in contempt for underpaying alimony in the same year that their marriage had been dissolved; (3) determining that the parties' separation agreement was ambiguous and improperly considering extrinsic evidence in violation of the parol evidence rule; and (4) failing to award the plaintiff attorney’s fees on her motions. We disagree and affirm the judgment of the trial court.")

AC40445 - Packard v. Packard (Marital dissolution; "The defendant, Rebecca M. Packard, appeals from the judgment dissolving her marriage with the plaintiff, Jay B. Packard. This appeal has been amended three times, challenging orders entered after judgment. Specifically, the defendant (1) claims that as to the April 7, 2017 judgment, the findings, conclusions and orders are erroneous; (2) challenges the July 28, 2017 order regarding renovations to the marital home; (3) challenges the August 18, 2017 order requiring her to sign a release of medical information to the guardian ad litem; and (4) challenges the October 6, 2017 orders regarding facilitating the sale of the marital home. Additionally, she asserts state and federal constitutional violations. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.")

AC39175 - Schimenti v. Schimenti (Dissolution of marriage; postjudgment orders; plain error doctrine; "In this postjudgment marital dissolution matter, the defendant, Matthew Schimenti, appeals from the trial court's orders requiring him to pay for one half of the initiation fee for a full membership into a country club for the plaintiff, Heather Schimenti, and certain of her counsel fees. On appeal, the defendant claims that the court's orders were improperly based on the trial judge's admitted bias and prejudice arising from her personal experience as a female golfer. He additionally claims that the court's order requiring him to pay the plaintiff's counsel fees constituted an abuse of discretion where the court made no finding of contempt on the basis of his challenged conduct and the plaintiff had ample financial means to pay her own counsel fees. We reverse the judgment of the trial court.")


Family Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Roy, Christopher

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=2927

AC38615 - Nassra v Nassra ("This appeal arises from an action in which a nonparty, N.J. Sarno and Company, LLC (N.J. Sarno), filed a motion for order of payment of court-ordered visitation supervisor fees in connection with the underlying dissolution action between the plaintiff and the defendant, George A. Nassra. After the court held a hearing on the motion, it rendered judgment for N.J. Sarno, finding the parties jointly and severally liable in the amount of $8785. On appeal, the defendant claims that the trial court: (1) lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the action because N.J. Sarno lacked standing; (2) improperly determined that an oral contract existed between N.J. Sarno and the defendant;2 (3) improperly determined that N.J. Sarno’s contract claim was not time barred by the three year statute of limitations provided by General Statutes § 52-581 (a); and (4) improperly rendered judgment in favor of N.J. Sarno after the parties had complied with the terms of the separation agreement. We disagree and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Family Law Supreme and Appellate Court Opinions

   by Roy, Christopher

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=1914

SC19687 - Reinke v. Sing ("Under General Statutes § 46b-86 (a), unless a dissolution decree provides otherwise, the trial court may at any time modify any final order for the periodic payment of alimony upon a showing of a substantial change in the circumstances of either party, but may not modify any assignment of the estate or a portion thereof of one party to the other party. In this certified appeal, the plaintiff, Gail Reinke, appeals from the judgment of the Appellate Court, which reversed the trial court’s decision to modify the property distribution orders in a prior judgment dissolving her marriage to the defendant, Walter Sing. The plaintiff claims that the Appellate Court incorrectly concluded that, under § 46b-86 (a), in the absence of a finding of fraud, the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to modify the prior judgment. We agree and, accordingly, reverse the judgment of the Appellate Court.")

AC39714 - Zilkha v. Zilkha ("In this highly protracted and bitterly contested family matter, the defendant, David Zilkha, whose marriage to the plaintiff, Karen Kaiser, was dissolved in 2005, appeals following the denial of postdissolution motions that sought to modify existing orders governing custody and visitation rights of the defendant with respect to the parties’ children, who are now teenagers. The defendant claims on appeal that the court improperly (1) delegated its judicial function and failed to consider both the best interests of the children and public policy by granting the children considerable control over the defendant’s level of access to them; (2) relied on events that occurred between 2004 and 2007, despite having informed the parties that such evidence was too remote and insufficiently weighty for consideration; (3) adopted the recommendation of the children’s guardian ad litem, despite the guardian ad litem’s alleged abandonment of that role; and (4) relied on an erroneous factual finding that reconciliation therapy had concluded, purportedly in direct contradiction to testimony provided by the parties’ reconciliation therapist. Additionally, the defendant requests by way of relief that, if this court agrees with all or parts of his claims, we should exercise our inherent equitable authority and order, without a remand, that the children participate in one of the reunification programs identified in his proposed orders to the trial court. For the reasons that follow, we reject the defendant’s claims and affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Family Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Roy, Christopher

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=1905

AC39008 - Dinunzio v. Dinunzio ("The defendant, Catherine Dinunzio, appeals from the judgment of the trial court dissolving her marriage to the plaintiff, Joseph Dinunzio, on the ground that the court erred in treating the plaintiff’s pension, from which he began to receive payments shortly after he commenced this action, only as a source of income and not as property subject to equitable distribution. We agree with the defendant and, accordingly, reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand this case for a new trial.")


Family Law Appellate Court Opinions

   by Roy, Christopher

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=1899

AC39241 - Toland v. Toland ("The plaintiff, Lita Wickser Toland, appeals from the judgment of the trial court dissolving her marriage to the defendant, John Gerard Toland, rendered after the court denied her motion to vacate and granted the defendant’s motion to confirm an arbitrator’s award. On appeal, the plaintiff claims (1) that the arbitration proceeding involved a restricted submission, warranting expanded judicial review of the arbitrator’s award of alimony and property division. Alternatively, she argues that the trial court improperly confirmed the award because: (2) the award violates the public policy underlying General Statutes §§ 46b-81 and 46b-82 and case law construing those statutes; (3) the award contravenes General Statutes § 52-418 given the arbitrator’s evident partiality and manifest disregard of the law; (4) the trial court committed plain error by confirming the arbitrator’s decision; and (5) the arbitrator improperly awarded attorney’s fees. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.")

AC38991 - Kimberly C. v. Anthony C. ("The plaintiff, Kimberly C., appeals from the judgment of the trial court dissolving her marriage to the defendant, Anthony C. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the court improperly (1) awarded the parties joint legal custody of their minor child by relitigating the issue of the occurrence of domestic violence between the parties when that issue had been determined in a prior proceeding and the court was bound by the finding on domestic violence in that proceeding by virtue of the doctrine of collateral estoppel, and (2) denied the plaintiff’s motions for sexual behavior evaluation and substance abuse evaluation of the defendant. We disagree and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of the trial court.")




Family Law Supreme Court Opinion

   by Roy, Christopher

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=833

SC19640 - Cohen v. Cohen ("The marriage of the plaintiff, Ruth Cohen, and the defendant, Franklin Cohen, was dissolved in 2002. At that time, the trial court, Hon.Dennis Harrigan, judge trial referee, incorporated their separation agreement, which contained a provision requiring the defendant to pay alimony to the plaintiff, into the divorce decree. In 2010, the defendant filed a motion to modify the alimony provision of the divorce decree on the ground that his income had declined significantly. The trial court, Shay, J., granted that motion by way of a corrected memorandum of decision in 2012. In 2013, the plaintiff filed a motion to modify the 2012 modification order on the ground that the defendant’s income had substantially increased. The trial court, Colin, J., granted that motion. The defendant then filed this appeal claiming, among other things, that Judge Colin improperly (1) based his conclusion that there had been a significant change in the parties’ financial circumstances warranting a modification of the 2012 modification order on a comparison of their current circumstances to their circumstances at the time of the divorce decree, instead of their circumstances at the time of the previous 2012 modification order, (2) considered the plaintiff’s motion for modification when it was ‘legally insufficient’ on its face, (3) considered certain evidence in support of his conclusion that the 2012 modification order should be modified, and (4) rendered an illegal ‘lifetime profit sharing order.’ We reject these claims and affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Family Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Roy, Christopher

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=802

AC38940 - Baronio v. Stubbs ("The defendant, Donna Stubbs, appeals from the judgment of the trial court awarding her and the plaintiff, Pascal Baronio, joint legal custody of their minor child. On appeal, the defendant claims that the court: (1) ‘erred in presuming that shared physical custody was in the child’s best interest where there was not an agreement by the defendant to an award of joint legal custody within the meaning of General Statutes § 46b-56a (b)’; and (2) ‘committed plain error by stating during pendente lite proceedings that it wanted to see an increase in the plaintiff’s parenting time, and by indicating before it heard all the evidence at trial that it was inclined to award joint legal custody to the plaintiff.’ We affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Family Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Roy, Christopher

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=777

AC38347 - Kent v. DiPaola ("The plaintiff, Richard Kent, appeals from the judgment of the trial court setting forth financial orders incident to the dissolution of his marriage to the defendant, Florence DiPaola. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the court erred with respect to its orders regarding the defendant’s pensions, the marital home and the percentage of the marital estate that was awarded to him. We disagree and, accordingly, affirm the judgment.")


Family Law Appellate Court Opinions

   by Roy, Christopher

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=723

AC38050 - Spencer v. Spencer ("The plaintiff, Brenna M. Spencer, appeals from the judgment of the trial court denying her motions for contempt and granting the motion for modification and termination of alimony filed by the defendant, Robert B. Spencer. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the trial court erred in (1) terminating alimony on the basis of her cohabitation, (2) modifying alimony on the basis of a substantial change in the defendant’s financial circumstances, and (3) denying her motion for contempt. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.")

AC38865 - Ray v. Ray ("The plaintiff, Deepali Ray, appeals from the judgment of the trial court granting the postjudgment motion brought by the defendant, Surajit D. Ray, for an order establishing his child support obligation to the plaintiff in accordance with the state’s child support and arrearage guidelines (guidelines), Regs. Conn. State Agencies § 46b-215a-1 et seq. The plaintiff also appeals from the judgment of the trial court, rendered after argument, denying the relief requested in her postjudgment motion for reargument and reconsideration. The defendant sought an order establishing his child support obligation when, pursuant to the judgment of dissolution rendered on August 11, 2008, his unallocated alimony and child support obligation had terminated. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the court erred by (1) establishing the defendant’s child support obligation without making a finding as to his net income, (2) making findings as to the parties’ gross and net incomes based upon an unsworn child support guidelines worksheet (guidelines worksheet) prepared by a family relations officer where the information on the guidelines worksheet was contrary to the evidence, and (3) failing to take into account the defendant’s income in excess of his base salary when it determined his child support obligation. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.")

AC38407 - Garvey v. Valencis ("The plaintiff, Denise A. Garvey, appeals from the judgment of the trial court sustaining the emergency ex parte custody order entered pursuant to General Statutes § 46b-56f denying the plaintiff visitation with the parties’ child. The order was entered pursuant to the application of the defendant, Stanley M. Valencis. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that: (1) the court improperly entered and extended the emergency ex parte custody order in violation of § 46b-56f, Practice Book § 4-5, and the plaintiff’s constitutional right to due process, and (2) there was insufficient evidence to conclude, as the court did, that the incident giving rise to the emergency ex parte order constituted an immediate and present risk of psychological harm to the child. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.")

AC37473 - Bruno v. Bruno ("This appeal arises out of several postjudgment orders following the judgment of the trial court dissolving the parties’ marriage. On appeal, the defendant, Lisa Bruno, claims that the court erred in (1) vacating prior awards of postjudgment interest on remand from this court, (2) employing an incorrect time frame and improper rate in calculating subsequent awards of postjudgment interest, and (3) finding her in contempt for failure to follow a court order. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.")