Superior Court of Connecticut, Judicial District of Hartford, Hartford
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION
Jorge A. Simon, J.
By complaint filed July 3, 2014, Eyleen Blier (hereinafter " plaintiff, " " wife, " or " mother") initiated an action seeking, among other things, a dissolution of her marriage to Alvey Blier, Jr. (hereinafter " defendant, " " husband, " or " father") on the grounds of irretrievable breakdown.
The court heard testimony on July 23, 24 and August 13, 2015. Both parties were represented by counsel. Although the parties have three children born during the marriage (two of whom are issue of the marriage and one who is the biological child of another man), the matter was bifurcated for purposes of trial so that the court is addressing solely the financial issues related to the dissolution. The child custody issues shall be addressed at a later date, with the participation of the court appointed guardian ad litem, who is attempting to reach an agreement between the parties regarding parenting matters that will potentially involve a shared parenting arrangement.
During the trial the court heard testimony from: the parties; Peter B. Wade, M.D., Director of Neurology at the Mandell Comprehensive Multiple Sclerosis Center at Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center; Allison Albergnini-Cater, the husband's current live-in girlfriend; Maria Vazquez, plaintiff's mother; and Mary Bergamini, guardian ad litem (GAL). Both parties submitted proposed orders, case law in support of those orders and proposed child support guidelines.
The court heard oral argument, reviewed and considered the exhibits, sworn financial affidavits, child support guidelines, claims of relief and closing arguments.
The court considered carefully the statutory criteria set forth in Connecticut General Statutes, including but not limited to Sections 46b-81, 46b-82, 46b-84, 46b-56, 46b-56b, 46b-62, 46b-63, and 46b-56c, as well as applicable case law, in reaching the orders that issue from this memorandum.
The court finds that service was properly made in accordance with Connecticut General Statutes and that it has jurisdiction by virtue of the residency of the parties in the State of Connecticut. All statutory stays have expired. All facts below are found by a fair preponderance of the evidence.
The parties were married on September 12, 2002, in East Hartford, Connecticut. This is the first marriage for each party. They have two children born of their relationship during the marriage: Alvey III, born on July 21, 2003 and Evan, born on August 1, 2008. A third child, Madison, was born on September 10, 2004. However, as it will be set forth later in greater detail, it was subsequently determined that the husband was not the biological father of Madison, therefore neither party is seeking orders regarding her care and custody as part of this dissolution.
On July 23, 2014, the parties entered into an agreement, approved by the court, providing for a shared parenting schedule as to the children and child support to be paid by the husband to wife in the amount of $350 per week, consistent with the then current child support guidelines. On that same date the court heard argument regarding the amount of alimony requested by the wife. After a full hearing this court entered an order directing the husband to pay the wife alimony in the amount of $450 per week. Those orders have remained in place throughout the current proceedings. Other orders have entered regarding the use of husband's bonus payment, currently held in escrow by his attorney, to pay certain bills, as well as approval for the invasion of husband's 401k funds to pay ongoing legal fees for both parties.
Wife is now 35 years old. She began dating the defendant when she was 19 and married him at age 22. She graduated high school and completed two years of college. At the time of marriage she was employed at St. Francis Hospital as a secretary earning a minimum wage. Husband is now 39 years old. He was 26 when the parties married. He completed high school and graduated from Central Connecticut State University in 2000. At the time of marriage he was employed by Fleet Bank and earned approximately $38, 000 per year. The parties purchased a home. One month after the marriage the plaintiff became pregnant with Alvey, III. Shortly after the child's birth on July 21, 2003, the parties separated for approximately five months. Wife went to live with her parents. During that period of separation she met Douglas Nicols, who also worked at St. Francis Hospital. They were involved in a sexual relationship. Wife was still having sexual relations with her husband during the parties' separation. The parties reconciled, sold their first home and purchased a condominium in Enfield in July 2004. Madison was born in September of that year. They purchased the current marital home about two years later.
In the summer of 2007, husband became suspicious of Madison's paternity due to an admission by wife and performed a private DNA. Those results confirmed that he was not Madison's biological father. Based on mother's previous relationship with Mr. Nicols, the parties suspected he was the father but they did not inform Mr. Nicols of their suspicions. The parties agreed to continue raising Madison as if Mr. Blier was her father. Shortly after their child Evan was born in 2008, the parties agreed that mother would begin a child support case against Mr. Nicols on behalf of Madison. The court ordered genetic testing of Mr. Nicols and Madison. On January 26, 2009, by court order, Mr. Nicols was determined to be Madison's biological father and he was ordered to pay the mother $174 per week in current child support and $26 per week towards a $15, 000 arrearage. Mr. Nicols also began to have parenting time with Madison.
In April 2011, the plaintiff was seen by Dr. Peter Wade based on a referral from her primary physician. She was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Since that time she has been treated at the Mandell Center for Multiple Sclerosis.
On May 27, 2014, a domestic incident between the parties resulted in wife leaving the marital home with the children. Shortly thereafter she initiated this dissolution proceeding. Later that same year, mother initiated an action in Probate Court to change Madison's last name from Blier to Nicols. That court subsequently approved the name change.
Although wife is currently not employed, she does have a history of steady employment prior to the birth of her children and for the past five years she has operated a photography business. Dr. Wade testified that the plaintiff remains in treatment for Multiple Sclerosis, a disease of long duration that affects the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves causing problems with vision, balance, muscle control and other basic bodily functions.
Plaintiff's most recent financial affidavit shows her income as consisting of current court ordered alimony and child support payments totaling $974 per week, which includes $174 per week in child support from Mr. Nicols. A $15, 000 child support arrearage due wife from Mr. Nicols was supposedly satisfied by a recent negotiated lump sum payment into a college fund for Madison. The Plaintiff does not have any pension or 401k-type savings. Although her affidavit does not indicate the marital home as an asset, husband's financial affidavit shows approximately $12, 000 in home equity. Wife recently purchased a new motor vehicle valued at $50, 000 with the assistance of her parents who gave her a $25, 000 personal loan and the balance of $25, 000 was secured by a bank loan. On her financial affidavit she shows $56, 000 in debt, including the auto loan from her parents and $17, 000 in attorneys fees, the amount she owed before the start of trial.
Husband is currently employed by The Hartford Insurance Company as director of the Internal Audit Department. He earns $128, 000 per year gross or $2, 462 per week. He has a net income per the child support guidelines of $1, 586 per week. Over the past four years his bonuses have ranged from $10, 000 to $36, 000 gross per year. Most recently his 2015 bonus was $33, 000, compared to $36, 000 in 2014. Husband also has a part-time job selling real estate. His 2014 income from real estate transactions was $10, 400 and his 2015 year-to-date income from real estate transactions is $2, 400. Husband attributes the decrease in activity to his taking care of the children during his parenting time. His financial affidavit shows debt of $18, 000. The marital home, which he refinanced with the wife's permission during the pendency of this matter, has equity of $12, 000. Wife has already been given $5, 000 from the refinancing. The defendant's motor vehicles have a net value of approximately $8, 000. Cash on hand totals $29, 000, however, the husband claims that $11, 344 of that amount is not his but an account he holds for his father's expenses. Available cash also includes a current balance of $13, 248, which is held by agreement of the parties in escrow by the defendant's attorney. This escrow account has been used over the course of litigation to pay legal and other joint expenses. The husband has a total of $227, 252 in his retirement 401k and cash value pension accounts. He has $7, 491 in stock and mutual funds. Husband is the beneficiary of 582 restricted stock units (RSO) through his employer that were earned in 2014 and 2015 and have a current unvested value of $24, 176.86.
The parties do not contest that their son Alvey, III suffers from Tourette Syndrome.
In her proposed orders wife is seeking the following:
1. A child support order of $450 per week based on her calculation of the child support guidelines. Husband to pay 75% of all unreimbursed medical expenses, work-related daycare, camp, extracurricular, and extraordinary expenses. Husband to pay child support for Alvey, III until age 21 due to his diagnosis of Tourette Syndrome.
2. Lifetime alimony of $487 per week, non-modifiable as to term.
3. An additional $3, 000 from the marital home refinancing.
4. Husband to maintain the children on his insurance.
5. Husband to maintain life insurance on behalf of the wife in the amount of $750, 000 and ...