Superior Court of Connecticut, Judicial District of Stamford-Norwalk, Stamford
Frederick W. Hoag
Renata A. Montesanti
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION FOLLOWING DISSOLUTION TRIAL
Thomas D. Colin, J.
This dissolution of marriage action was returnable to the court on May 13, 2014. The parties are each represented by counsel. The trial took place in 2015 on the following dates: July 29; August 11; September 17, 18 and 22. The parties introduced many exhibits during the course of the trial and both parties testified. The court has carefully considered all of the evidence presented and the relevant statutes and case law, and makes the following findings.
Basic Jurisdictional Facts
The parties were married approximately 12 years ago on October 1, 2003 in Westport, Connecticut after having a religious ceremony on November 30, 2002. They have no children together. The court has jurisdiction. All statutory stays have expired. The allegations of the complaint are proven and found to be true. The marriage of the parties has broken down irretrievably. Neither party has been the recipient of any state or public assistance.
Pendente Lite Motions
The court also heard certain motions filed by the parties during the pendency of the case, including the defendant's motion for temporary alimony (103) filed on February 25, 2015. The parties agreed (a) to a mistrial of the temporary alimony hearing that previously took place in April of 2015 before another judge and (b) to have that motion decided by this court at the time of trial.
The plaintiff is a self-employed architect in good health at age 55. He was previously in a partnership with someone else but in 2004 he and his partner decided to go their separate ways. He owes a substantial amount of back taxes for many prior years to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services (DRS). With the assistance of a tax attorney, he has entered into a payment plan with the government that obligates him to pay $2, 100 per month to the IRS and $1, 000 per month to the Connecticut DRS. He must also stay current on his estimated tax payments. He explained that the reason why his taxes have not been properly paid to date is that the parties lived beyond their means. The plaintiff says that he and his wife lived off his gross income and not his net income. This is not the first time that the plaintiff has had tax difficulties. Prior to the marriage, he suffered from similar problems and even filed for bankruptcy. Substantial tax liens are recorded on the land records against his Redding, Connecticut home.
According to the plaintiff's financial affidavit, his annual gross income is close to $300, 000. His architect business is growing. In fact, notwithstanding his significant tax obligations and his being in the middle of a divorce case, the plaintiff was able to recently lease a 2014 or 2015 Mercedes at a rate of $555 per month with over $2, 000 down. The plaintiff uses one bank account for both business and personal items. The plaintiff's company pays for many of his personal expenses including car lease, car down payment, car insurance, gasoline, etc. Whether these are all legitimate business expenses is unclear. He also dines out frequently with friends and clients. These dinners sometimes include his girlfriend. He has paid for vacations with his girlfriend. For the first six months of 2015, the plaintiff deposited into his bank account the sum of $326, 126.
A number of financial affidavits signed by the plaintiff were submitted to the court. According to the plaintiff's October 23, 2014 affidavit, he had gross weekly income of $3, 364 and net weekly income of $2, 308. See exhibit P. His March 31, 2015 affidavit listed gross income for the prior tax year of $221, 153, gross weekly income of $4, 836 and net weekly income of $2, 952. See exhibit Q. His April 27, 2015 affidavit showed gross income for the prior tax year of $252, 104 with gross weekly income of $5, 064 and net weekly income of $2, 222. His July 28, 2015 affidavit showed gross income for the prior tax year of $294, 703, with gross weekly income of $5, 554 and net weekly income of $2, 826. There was also evidence introduced to establish that the defendant's 2014 pre-tax income was $294, 703.
The parties separated in 2013 when the plaintiff left the marital home in Redding. In 2014, the plaintiff paid the defendant $22, 000 in cash and also paid many of the usual and customary expenses of the Redding household (the plaintiff estimates that these other expenses total approximately $80, 000). The plaintiff now lives with his girlfriend in Westport and the defendant lives in the Redding home. The plaintiff stopped giving the defendant money in late 2014. He continues to pay the monthly mortgage of $3, 054 and says that he tries to give his girlfriend $2, 500 per month as a contribution to the household expenses of the girlfriend's Westport home. The plaintiff also pays for the utilities of the Redding home solely occupied now by the defendant as well as her auto insurance, auto lease and her cell phone expenses.
The defendant is age 45 and has some health issues including being previously treated for skin cancer. She is not employed at the present time. When the parties met she had her own clothing designer/fashion business in her native country of Brazil and, for six years after moving to the United States, she continued to own her business in Brazil. The defendant was a designer and stylist; she would send designs to Brazil and have the clothing manufactured there. She described herself as formerly a very capable clothing designer. She had $35, 000 at the time of the marriage. See exhibit K. For some years during the marriage, she made in excess of $100, 000 per year and paid for many of her own personal expenses and those of her daughter from a prior relationship. After that business closed in or around 2006, she brought over from Brazil over $100, 000 in cash. In 2011, the defendant ran out of her own money and received approximately $90, 000 from Brazil that she discloses on her financial affidavit as a loan. Her family resides in Brazil and the parties ...