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Procaccini v. Procaccini

Appellate Court of Connecticut

June 16, 2015

CATHERINE A. PROCACCINI
v.
MATTHEW PROCACCINI

Argued, March 5, 2015

Action for the dissolution of a marriage, and for other relief, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Danbury, where the court, Winslow, J., rendered judgment dissolving the marriage and granting certain other relief in accordance with the parties' separation agreement; thereafter, the court entered certain orders in accordance with the parties' stipulation; subsequently, the court granted the plaintiff's motion for modification, and the defendant appealed to this court; thereafter, the court denied the defendant's motion for modification, and the defendant filed an amended appeal.

SYLLABUS

The defendant, whose marriage to the plaintiff previously had been dissolved, appealed to this court from the judgment of the trial court granting the plaintiff's motion for modification to increase the alimony order. The trial court previously had granted the defendant's motion for modification to decrease the alimony order as a result of his unemployment. The trial court then granted the plaintiff's motion to modify that was filed after the defendant began new employment as a consultant. The defendant claimed that the trial court improperly based its modified alimony order on his gross income rather than on his net income. While the appeal was pending, the defendant filed a motion for modification to decrease the alimony order, which the trial court denied because he had not demonstrated that a substantial change in circumstances had occurred since the prior modification. Thereafter, the defendant filed an amended appeal, claiming that the trial court again improperly had relied on his gross income in denying his motion to modify the alimony order. Held that the trial court incorrectly applied the law in both of its modification decisions by basing its financial orders solely on the defendant's gross income, rather than properly basing its orders on his net income.

Matthew Procaccini, self-represented, the appellant (defendant).

Catherine Procaccini, self-represented, the appellee (plaintiff), filed a brief.

Alvord, Sheldon and Keller, Js.

OPINION

Page 113

ALVORD, J.

[157 Conn.App. 805] The defendant, Matthew Procaccini, appeals from the trial court's decision modifying the parties' financial orders, postjudgment. On appeal, the defendant claims that the court abused its discretion when it (1) relied on his gross income rather than his net income in its December 16, 2013 decision modifying the previously agreed upon alimony order, (2) relied on his gross income rather than his net income in its May 13, 2014 denial of his motion to modify the previously modified alimony order, and (3) " placed [the majority of gross income] in control of the plaintiff while the defendant is required to pay his self-employment taxes and other expenses from his remaining gross income" [157 Conn.App. 806] and " made future modification hearings almost impossible . . . leav[ing] a future

Page 114

court lacking the ability to compare changes in available net income." We agree with the defendant's first and second claims and reverse the judgments of the trial court.[1]

The following facts and procedural history are relevant to the defendant's appeal. The marriage of the parties was dissolved by judgment of the court on December 18, 2009. A stipulated agreement relative to financial issues was incorporated into the dissolution judgment. The agreement provided that the amount of alimony paid by the defendant to the plaintiff, Catherine A. Procaccini, would be $1826.92 weekly for the first 130 weeks following the dissolution. After the first 130 weeks, the amount of alimony paid by the defendant to the plaintiff would be $1538.46 weekly. Alimony would terminate entirely in 2020. In February, 2012, the defendant filed the parties' first motion for modification to reduce the agreed upon alimony order, alleging that a substantial change in circumstances had occurred, because he had been terminated from his employment and his noncompete payments were to expire that month. The parties again entered into a stipulation, which provided for the reduction of alimony from $1538.46 to $500 weekly during his period of unemployment. Among other provisions, the stipulation provided that the defendant would inform the plaintiff within 72 hours of any employment offers. The defendant subsequently notified the plaintiff of entering into a consulting agreement, which would result in his earning $10,000 monthly.

Consequently, on October 22, 2013, the plaintiff filed the parties' second motion for modification to increase the order of alimony established during the defendant's [157 Conn.App. 807] unemployment. After the December 16, 2013 evidentiary hearing during which the parties supplied financial affidavits, the court issued an order finding that the defendant " now has $10,000.00 a month in gross income." The court granted the plaintiff's motion, increasing the alimony payable to the plaintiff from $500 to $910 weekly, effective October 11, 2013. The defendant filed a motion to reargue, claiming, inter alia, that the court improperly used the defendant's gross business income without considering the business expenses he incurred while working as a self-employed consultant. The defendant argued in his motion to reargue that his income after business expenses ...


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