Judicial District of Danbury


     Dissolution; Whether Trial Court Improperly Interpreted Stipulation Regarding Enrollment of Minor Child in Private School; Whether Stipulation Improperly Delegates to Child's Therapist and Guardian Ad Litem the Authority to Determine School Child Must Attend.  In January 2006, the parties, whose marriage had been dissolved some years earlier, entered into a stipulation concerning the care and custody of their youngest child, Babak Fotovat-Ahmadi.  The stipulation provided, in part, that Babak "shall continue in the Brookfield school system so long as he maintains a C or better average and does not need disciplinary intervention such as detentions, suspensions or exclusions. . . . In the event that [Babak] does not achieve or maintain his academic and behavioral goals, [Babak] will be enrolled in a private school recommended by Babak's therapist and his [guardian ad litem] and each parent shall pay one-half of all costs associated with said school." The stipulation was approved by the trial court.  On May 8, 2006, the plaintiff removed Babak from Brookfield High School (BHS).  At the time, Babak had a 1.81 grade point average.  The defendant did not disagree with the plaintiff's decision.  Thereafter, based on the recommendation of his therapist and his guardian ad litem, Babak was eventually enrolled in the Oakley School in Utah.  The plaintiff subsequently moved to hold the defendant in contempt for his failure to pay his share of the cost of Babak's private school education.  The defendant objected, arguing that in order for the private school enrollment provision to be triggered, it was first necessary to establish that Babak was failing to meet both his defined academic and behavioral goals.  The defendant maintained that because Babak had not been the subject of any disciplinary intervention, Babak should not have been removed from BHS and enrolled in a private school.  The trial court disagreed and interpreted the provision to mean that Babak could be removed from BHS and enrolled in a private school if he failed to achieve either his academic goals or his behavioral goals.  Thereafter, noting that Babak never achieved or maintained a C average at BHS, the court concluded that Babak could be - and was - properly enrolled in the private school.  The court then found the defendant in contempt and ordered him to pay his half share of Babak's private school expenses.  On appeal, the defendant claims, inter alia, that the language of the stipulation unambiguously requires that Babak may not be enrolled in a private school unless he fails to meet his defined academic and his defined behavioral goals.   He also claims that the trial court erred in enforcing the private school enrollment provision because it improperly delegates to a therapist and guardian ad litem the judicial authority to determine where Babak must attend school.