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Hallett v. Hallett

Superior Court of Connecticut, Judicial District of Middlesex, Middletown, Regional Family Trial Docket

November 3, 2015

Emilia Hallett
v.
Martin Hallett

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION

Barry C. Pinkus, J.

The plaintiff, Emilia Hallett, and the defendant, Martin Hallett, were married in Burlington, Ontario, Canada on November 13, 1993. There are two children issue of the marriage: Dylan Hallett and Sydney Hallett, both of whom are over the age of 18 years but under the age of 23 years old. The jurisdictional requirements are satisfied. The trial was conducted by the court on September 15, 16 and October 19, 2015. The parties were unable to reach an agreement on the financial issues prior to trial.

The basic facts are as follows: The parties were originally from Canada and moved to Connecticut in 1996. The plaintiff is forty-five years old and has a high school education. She has only worked part-time since 2003 and is currently unemployed. Since the time of the marriage her highest annual income was $10, 688 in 2008. Since 2008, she has earned a total of less than $20, 000. The defendant is forty-seven years old and has at least one year of college education. He is a trader of recyclable materials for CellMark, Inc. The defendant has historically been the primary wage earner. He currently earns a base salary of $156, 000 per year. He also receives an annual bonus as well as contributions from a profit sharing plan which are paid to his 401k account. He also has received stock from CellMark and a debenture from CellMark. The defendant receives subsidized family health insurance and life insurance from his employer (currently $312, 000 death benefit). The defendant's bonus has been as high as $40, 000 to $50, 000 in recent years except for 2010 and 2015[1] when they were smaller. The defendant received a bonus of $12, 000 in 2015. The defendant also earns approximately $6, 000 per year as a part-time hockey coach. The plaintiff was primarily responsible for raising the children and caring for the home, while the defendant was working long hours.

Both parties testified that the marriage was troubled for many years. At least two prior dissolution of marriage actions were commenced and subsequently withdrawn. The plaintiff stated that she suffered from postpartum depression for a few years after the younger child was born in 1996. The plaintiff testified that things changed and that the problems between the parties started in 2001. The defendant acknowledged that he, in fact, had an affair with a coworker during that time. The defendant indicated that the affair lasted into 2003 or 2004. When the coworker was called to testify she stated that the affair lasted until 2010. The plaintiff also had an affair with a coworker in 2007 for approximately seven or eight months. Both parties testified as to several incidents of pushing and shoving as well as punching and slapping and on one incident the defendant kicked the plaintiff in the back. The defendant moved out of the house on several occasions and has been out of the house since March 2014. Both parties were arrested in June 2015 and there were mutual orders of protection preventing the parties from contacting each other. The defendant testified that he was unable to deal with the plaintiff's level of anger which could last for several days. He testified that she would call the office many times in a day which would affect his ability to work.

In 2015, the plaintiff was hospitalized on four occasions after she apparently attempted to commit suicide. She is currently on several medications for anxiety and depression. The plaintiff testified that these medications impair her ability to function and have an impact on her ability to work full-time. The defendant currently sees a psychiatrist. The defendant stated that the reason his 2015 bonus was so small was as a result of his productivity being affected by his mental state and dealing with the litigation. The plaintiff claims the bonus has been deferred or redirected to another person as a result of this pending litigation but no evidence was introduced to support this position.

The marital home is currently on the market for $589, 900. The home was originally placed on the market in January 2015 for $679, 900. The parties agreed to at least six price reductions since that time. There is a first mortgage on the property of approximately $325, 000 and a home equity line of credit with a balance of approximately $100, 000. The parties agreed in July that neither party would be obligated to pay the mortgages. At that time the defendant agreed to pay most of the household expenses and pay the plaintiff $500 a week in alimony. The first mortgage is currently three months behind. The plaintiff has been making minimal payments on the home equity line of credit. The realtor testified that both parties are cooperating and are motivated to sell the property. The defendant has a 401k plan through his employer with a balance of approximately $528, 500. The defendant also has 50, 167 shares of CellMark stock. The stock is not publicly traded and is valued at approximately $386, 000 (and is subject to a loan of approximately $13, 500). Despite not being publically traded, the court finds that the value is not speculative due to the fact that historically the shares have been purchased by CellMark or a third party when an employee leaves the company. The defendant owns CellMark debentures, which also are not publicly traded, and are valued at approximately $93, 500. These debentures come due in 2016, 2017 and 2018. The parties have always agreed that the debentures would be used to subsidize their children's college education. The plaintiff has a small retirement account, which she earned while she was employed in Canada which is valued at approximately $12, 000. The plaintiff drives a leased Ford Escape and the defendant has a 2008 Audi valued at $7, 000. The defendant also leases a car for the children. Both parties have small bank accounts with Bank of America. The parties have agreed that the personal property shall be subject to binding arbitration with Attorney Kevin Finch of Bridgeport, in the event they are unable to equitably divide the property themselves. The parties have agreed that the cost of this arbitration shall be shared equally by the parties. There is an insurance check regarding damage to the marital premises of approximately $14, 000. The mortgagee is holding that amount in escrow pending the completion of the repairs.

The plaintiff has credit card debt of approximately $8, 000 as well as outstanding attorneys fees. The defendant has outstanding credit card debt of approximately $29, 000. $25, 000 of this is an American Express account used for family purposes. The defendant also lists student loans for the two adult children. These loans total approximately $120, 000 and take into account the older child's first three years at Roger Williams University and the younger child's first two years at Southern Connecticut State University. The defendant also has a loan from his father in the approximate amount of $41, 000.

Both parties have filed claims for relief. The parties disagree as to the amount and length of time that the plaintiff should receive as alimony. The parties disagree as to what debts should be paid from the proceeds of the sale of the marital home. The parties also disagree as to how to pay for the remainder of their children's college education. The defendant wants to use the proceeds of the sale of the marital home to pay off the existing student loans. The defendant also wants the debentures to be used to pay for future expenses. The plaintiff agrees that the debentures should be used for college expenses. The plaintiff does not want to use the proceeds of the sale of the home for college expenses.

The court has considered all of the statutory factors enumerated in Connecticut General Statutes Section 46b-81 and 46b-82 in making the financial orders set forth below. " A fundamental principle in dissolution actions is that a trial court may exercise broad discretion in awarding alimony and dividing property as long as it considers all relevant statutory criteria." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Keenan v. Casillo, 149 Conn.App. 642, 663, 89 A.3d 912, cert. denied, 312 Conn. 910, 93 A.3d 594 (2014). " The distribution of assets in a dissolution action is governed by . . . § 46b-81, which provides in pertinent part that a trial court may assign to either the husband or the wife all or any part of the estate of the other . . . In fixing the nature and value of the property, if any, to be assigned, the court, after hearing the witnesses, if any, of each party . . . shall consider the length of the marriage, the causes for the . . . dissolution of the marriage . . . the age, health, station, occupation, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate, liabilities and needs of each of the parties and the opportunity of each for future acquisition of capital assets and income." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Natarajan v. Natarajan, 107 Conn.App. 381, 392-93, 945 A.2d 540, cert. denied, 287 Conn. 924, 951 A.2d 572 (2008).

Similarly, " [§ ]46b-82 governs awards of alimony. That section requires the trial court to consider the length of the marriage, the causes for the . . . dissolution of the marriage . . . the age, health, station, occupation, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate and needs of each of the parties . . . In awarding alimony, [t]he court must consider all of these criteria . . . It need not, however, make explicit reference to the statutory criteria that it considered in making its decision or make express findings as to each statutory factor." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Wiegand v. Wiegand, 129 Conn.App. 526, 536, 21 A.3d 489 (2011).

After careful consideration of the statutory criteria expressed in General Statutes § § 46b-56c, 46b-81, 46b-82, 46b-84, and other pertinent statutes and case law, as well as the testimony and exhibits presented at trial, the court enters the following.

ORDERS

1. The marriage is dissolved on the ground of irretrievable breakdown.

2. The defendant shall pay to the plaintiff alimony for a period of eighteen years. Said alimony shall be in the amount of $1, 250 per week for nine years and $500 per week for the remaining nine years. As additional alimony, for the eighteen-year term, the defendant shall pay to the plaintiff 50% of the gross bonus received subsequent to this judgment in the years 2015 and 2016 and 33% of the gross bonus received in subsequent years. The bonus shall be defined as any additional income over and above the defendant's base income. The defendant shall provide to the plaintiff a copy of the paystub showing ...


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