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Rogers-Clarke v. Clarke

Superior Court of Connecticut, Judicial District of Stamford-Norwalk, Stamford

August 28, 2015

Odetta Rogers-Clarke
Kenton Clarke


Erika M. Tindill, J.

Plaintiff's motion for alimony and child support was filed on November 12, 2014. The motions were marked off by agreement on the February 17, 2015 short calendar; Plaintiff's counsel preferred not to go forward without tax returns from the Defendant or Plaintiff's prior counsel's file. The motions were marked ready for the April 6, 2015 short calendar but were not heard by the Court (J. Cohn) on that day as they were not reached as a result of the length of the hearing on the Defendant's motion for contempt. (#134.) The Defendant filed a motion for continuance (#153) on April 14, 2015 which was denied.[1] On April 27, the motion was again before the Court on short calendar and was not reached by the Court. The hearing on the motion was conducted on April 28 and April 29, 2015. Both parties were present and represented by counsel. Both parties testified and submitted financial affidavits.[2] The Court took judicial notice of 1) the Court's (J. Cohn) January 9, 2015 orders (#127) finding the Plaintiff in contempt, 2) the Court's (J. Cohn) April 7, 2015 reversal of its April 6, 2015 findings and orders (#145) regarding the Defendant's motion for contempt, pendente lite (#134), and 3) the Court's (J. Cohn) April 20, 2015 memorandum of decision (#144) regarding the Defendant's motion for contempt, pendente lite . (#134.)

The Court has carefully considered the testimony of the parties, the evidence presented, and reviewed and considered relevant statutory and case law to make its orders and findings.

115.01 Plaintiff's Motion for Alimony, Pendente Lite

The purpose of the alimony requested by the Plaintiff is to provide her with financial support during the pendency of the dissolution proceedings. See Evans v. Taylor, 67 Conn.App. 108, 786 A.2d 525 (2001). Though there is evidence of financial misconduct on the part of both parties in the instant case, the goal of pendente lite alimony is to maintain the financial status quo for the parties until the final judgment of dissolution; not to reward or punish a spouse. In determining whether and in what amount temporary alimony is awarded, the Court is required to consider the factors identified in C.G.S. § 46b-82 except the grounds for the complaint. In addition, the Court must consider the financial circumstances of both parties.

The Court finds that the parties have been married since 1993. The Defendant left the marital home in June 2012. He testified that he paid 100% of the cost of maintaining two households from June 2012 to September 2014, including giving the Plaintiff $400-$600 per week for food and gas, until he found out that the Plaintiff sold a piece of property and had " a million dollars." (Defendant's testimony--April 28, 2015).[3] Coinciding with the Defendant's departure from the marital home was the arrival of the Plaintiff's mother from Boston to live temporarily[4] with the Plaintiff, the parties' youngest child, and the Plaintiff's three poodles in the marital home at 16 Round Hill Road in Greenwich.

The Defendant is sixty-three years old, college-educated, and in fair health.[5] He holds a bachelor's degree in Management from the University of New Haven. The Defendant is the President of Computer Consulting Associates, a company that maintains websites and does consulting for businesses. He has owned the company for nearly 36 years; at one point there were 200 employees. As of the date of the hearing, there were two employees, including the Defendant. The Defendant's April 29, 2015 financial affidavit shows a net weekly income of $3, 729, weekly expenses of $5, 224 per week, a total cash value of assets of $3, 321, 800, $900, 000 in deferred assets, and total liabilities of $98, 342. He testified that he has not filed state or federal income tax returns[6] for tax years 2012, 2013, or 2014, [7] but he paid $20, 000 to $25, 000 in taxes for 2013 and approximately $25, 000 for his 2014 tax liability (the Defendant claims to have estimated taxes on a gross annual salary of $90, 000 for 2014). The Defendant's 2010 state and federal tax returns were entered into evidence; it shows a gross annual income of $153, 000.[8] Because the Defendant is " good at estimating" he was able to assemble his financial affidavit.[9] (Defendant's testimony--April 28, 2015). The Court does not find the Defendant's sworn testimony regarding his finances to be credible.

The Plaintiff is fifty-three years old, college-educated, and in good health.[10] She earned a bachelor's degree in Broadcast Journalism from Howard University's School of Communications and had a career as a news correspondent with NBC in New York City. The Plaintiff has also had a real estate license since 2004. The Plaintiff has not worked full-time outside of the home since September 11, 2001; much of her income in 2001 was from part-time employment. She was utilizing her real estate license in 2005 " doing mortgages when the market sunk." (Plaintiff's testimony--April 28, 2015). The Plaintiff testified that she has been actively looking for work as a journalist since 2012 but is unable to secure gainful employment because her " age and work history make it hard." She has not had an interview in the last six months; she is overqualified for available retail jobs. In order to make ends meet, the Plaintiff has pawned her wedding ring, [11] " stretched" the money the Defendant gives her, [12] consigned clothing at Consigned Couture in Greenwich, [13] sold things, and used an insurance policy cancelation refund. She claims to have no income, no other financial resources, no credit cards, no checking account, and no way to feed her son and maintain her household. The Court does not find her testimony credible.

115.02 Plaintiff's Motion for Child Support, Pendente Lite

Child support guidelines for the presumptive amount of support were submitted at the time of the hearing.[14] Pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes § 46b-84(d) and based on the evidence, the Court finds that an order for child support for the parties' youngest child is appropriate.

The parties have three children: a 20-year-old daughter who attends St. John's University in New York City, a 17-year-old son who has resided with the Defendant since September 2014 and who attends Fairfield Warde High School in Fairfield, and a 13-year-old son who resides with the Plaintiff and attends Brunswick School in Greenwich. The Plaintiff has, until her first son moved out during the pendency of this dissolution action, been the primary caretaker of the children.

The Defendant is ordered to pay the presumptive amount of support for his son Alexander until further order of the court. See Court Exhibit A.

137.00 Plaintiff's Motion for Contempt, Pendente Lite

While there was some tangential evidence of the Defendant's sale of 200 Pequot Avenue[15] and proceeds he received from the sale allegedly in violation of the automatic orders, the Court does not have sufficient evidence to rule on Plaintiff's motion for contempt. Counsel for the Plaintiff indicated to the Court on the first day of the hearing that his client's primary concern was being heard on her motions for alimony and child support. He told the Court he would be proceeding with evidence on motions #115.01 and #115.02. The Plaintiff should have the opportunity to pursue her claims through a ...

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