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Johnson v. Johnson

Superior Court of Connecticut, Judicial District of Hartford, Hartford

August 14, 2015

Jennifer Johnson
v.
Clifton Johnson

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION

Stewart Johnson, J.

By complaint filed June 5, 2014, Jennifer C. Johnson (hereinafter " plaintiff, mother, wife") initiated an action, seeking among other things, a dissolution of her marriage to Clifton T. Johnson (hereinafter, " defendant, husband, father") on the grounds of irretrievable breakdown. The defendant filed a cross complaint on August 25, 2014.

On April 30, 2015, the court heard testimony from the self-represented parties. Although both parties had legal representation during the discovery phase of the action, counsel withdrew their appearances before trial. The court has reviewed the child support guidelines, the financial affidavits and proposed orders of the parties, a report concerning the children, and the Attorney General's request for orders.

The court has considered carefully the statutory criteria set forth in Connecticut General Statutes, including but not limited to Sections 46b-81, 46b-82, 46b-56, 46b-62 as well as applicable case law in reaching the orders set forth in this memorandum of decision.

BACKGROUND

The parties were married on March 21, 2009 in Hartford, Connecticut. At the time of marriage, the plaintiff's name was Jennifer Jones. She was a college student who resided alone. The defendant was employed and lived with his family. The parties have two children of the marriage: Madison, who was born on 9/2/08; and Macy, who was born on 7/26/13.

The family has lived in several rental units throughout the Hartford County area. The plaintiff successfully completed her education in the field of health science and respiratory therapy while attending school and making a home for her family. The defendant completed his nursing education in 2012. He worked part-time and provided care to the minor children while plaintiff completed her education: This arrangement allowed the family to provide a stable home for the children with little to no childcare expense.

Although the parties had some difficulty in the early stages of their marriage, they sought counseling and continued to make plans for their future. In April 2014, after five years of marriage, the parties separated and officially divided their household after the lease on their apartment expired in July 2014.

The plaintiff claims the parties entered into an agreement on May 28, 2014 which divided the household expenses. She asserts that the defendant has not complied with the agreement and she is seeking reimbursement for utilities, cable, cell phones and a fitness membership, as well as arrearage on child support. The plaintiff also seeks court orders relating to motor vehicle tickets incurred by the defendant while in possession of the marital motor vehicle.

The plaintiff asserts that because the defendant is willfully unemployed, having rejected employment opportunities in his chosen field of nursing, the court should impute to him an earned income. As a witness in this matter, the plaintiff called Mairi Harvey of Pediatric Service of America.

The plaintiff voiced her concern about the children's education and tardiness resulting from the defendant residing in Hartford without transportation. She claims that teachers have addressed this matter with her on numerous occasions. The plaintiff seeks a parental access plan which gives her access on school days and the defendant access on consecutive weekends.

Child support orders in accordance with the child support guidelines were entered on September 17, 2014 in the amount of $185 per week. An order on arrearage, without any modification of child support, was entered by Bozzuto, J. in the amount of $2, 390 as of March 3, 2015. The father was ordered to pay $100 per week, leaving a weekly shortfall of $85.

The defendant acknowledges that both parties signed the agreement on May 28, 2014, but submits that this was in lieu of child support and should not have provided the plaintiff with a monetary windfall. He admits using the fitness center but claims that his cell phone lacked the proper mechanisms to be operational.

Father is seeking a shared parenting plan, and as he is currently without a motor vehicle, requests that the plaintiff be responsible for transportation. He stated he was not consulted prior to the plaintiff and children moving to Rocky Hill. The distance makes it difficult at rush hour when he has mid-week overnights with the children. He seeks a split access and suggested a 5-2-2 schedule for both children.

The plaintiff has waived her right to alimony. The defendant seeks a division of marital debt but waives his right to alimony. He verbally requests an earned capacity income be applied to the plaintiff as she is currently unemployed. He asserts her recent job status is the result of deliberate acts which resulted in her termination. No witnesses from the plaintiff's employer were called to testify.

FINDINGS OF FACT

The court is charged with ruling on the earnings of the parties, division of debt and the best access plan for the minor children. The parties have stipulated to the breakdown of the marriage. Neither is seeking any assets in the possession of the other party. All personal property has been divided to the satisfaction of the parties. They possess no jointly owned real estate or motor vehicles.

Having had an opportunity to observe the parties during testimony, the court is impressed by their ability to improve their educational opportunities while maintaining a family and household during the early stages of their marriage. They are both young and in good health. It is the court's conclusion that they both are experiencing a period of unemployment which will affect the financial future of the children. The court anticipates that both parties will have to make adjustment in the current job market to obtain gainful employment. Currently the plaintiff has the assistance of state benefits and the defendant is seeking unemployment benefits. The court finds that for the purpose of child support, the minimum wage is the appropriate income level for both parties--mother's income is $366 net and father's is $391 net--which results in the father paying the mother presumptive support in the amount of $112 per week. Arrearage on child support was found at time of trial to be in the amount of $3, 470.

The children are currently receiving Husky medical coverage. Father should be responsible for 32% of unreimbursed childcare and medical expenses and mother responsible for 68% of unreimbursed childcare and medical expenses for two children.

The parties agree that had they remained an intact family they would have financially supported their children in their post-secondary educational efforts.

The court finds that the contract signed by both parties in May 2014 is valid and entered into without duress, fraud or misunderstanding.

Having considered the evidence presented, the findings of the court and governing law, as well as the testimony of the witnesses and the best interest ...


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