April 9, 2015
for the dissolution of a marriage, and for other relief,
brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of
Stamford-Norwalk and tried to the court, Hon. Dennis F.
Harrigan, judge trial referee; judgment dissolving the
marriage and granting certain other relief in accordance with
the parties' stipulation; thereafter, the court, Shay,
J., granted the plaintiff's motion to open the judgment
and issued certain orders; subsequently, the court, Shay, J.,
issued a corrected memorandum of decision, and the plaintiff
appealed to this court; thereafter, the court, Shay, J.,
issued an articulation of its decision.
Reversed; judgment directed.
plaintiff, whose marriage to the defendant previously had
been dissolved, appealed to this court from the judgment of
the trial court opening the dissolution judgment and issuing
certain financial orders. The trial court had rendered the
dissolution judgment in 2007. In 2010, the plaintiff filed a
motion to open the dissolution judgment, alleging that the
defendant intentionally had failed to disclose certain assets
on his financial affidavit filed at the time of the
dissolution. The trial court opened the judgment by oral
agreement of both parties, without a finding of fraud, in
order to reassess the financial orders. After a trial, the
court rendered judgment reissuing the financial orders from
the dissolution judgment, including altering the amount and
term of alimony, altering the amount that the defendant owed
to the plaintiff with respect to various marital assets, and
awarding the plaintiff attorney's fees. Subsequently,
after an order from this court, the trial court articulated
that it had made no finding regarding fraud at the time it
opened the dissolution judgment and, after hearing the
evidence, found that the plaintiff had failed to prove fraud
by clear and convincing evidence. Both parties then submitted
supplemental briefs on the question of whether the trial
court had subject matter jurisdiction to open the dissolution
judgment for the purpose of, inter alia, redistributing the
martial property. Held that the trial court lacked
subject matter jurisdiction to open the dissolution judgment
and reissue the financial orders absent a finding or
concession of fraud; despite the agreement of the parties,
the trial court did not have subject matter jurisdiction to
open the dissolution judgment three years after it was
rendered and reallocate the parties' martial assets.
Higgins, for the appellant (plaintiff).
C. Boyer, for the appellee (defendant).
Keller and Harper, Js.
Conn.App. 675] PER CURIAM.
plaintiff, Gail Reinke, appeals from the judgment of
dissolution of her marriage to the defendant, Walter Sing,
rendered after the granting of a motion to open a prior
judgment of dissolution. The plaintiff argues that the trial
court erred (1) as to the award of alimony, by decreasing the
term, ordering the term to be nonmodifiable and increasing
the alimony award by an inequitably small amount; (2) as to
the property distribution, by inequitably dividing assets
previously concealed by the defendant; and (3) as to
attorney's fees, by not awarding the plaintiff legal fees
for the fourteen month period encompassing the trial. We
conclude that the trial court lacked subject matter
jurisdiction to grant the motion to open, and therefore
reverse the judgment of the trial court.
following facts and procedural history are relevant to this
appeal. The parties were married in 1989 and had two
children. The plaintiff held a bachelor's
degree, and previously had been employed in a number of well
paying jobs. During the marriage she became a homemaker; she
also worked part-time " from time to time." The
defendant held a degree in mathematics and he worked
throughout the marriage, most recently as a self-employed
Conn.App. 676] The marriage was dissolved by the trial court,
Hon. Dennis F. Harrigan, judge trial referee, on
October 2, 2007. The parties entered into a "
Stipulation for Judgment," which was incorporated into
the judgment of dissolution. On May 3, 2010, the plaintiff
filed a motion to open the judgment of dissolution on the
basis of fraud, claiming that the defendant failed to
disclose some of his assets on the financial affidavit relied
upon at the time of the dissolution. On September 28, 2010,
the trial court, Shay, J., opened the judgment
" by oral agreement of both parties, without a finding
of fraud," in order to reassess the financial orders.
a trial, the court issued its decision on August 23, 2013.
The court found that the defendant's income actually had
been twice the amount that the defendant disclosed at the
time of the original dissolution, and the lesser amount had
been relied on in formulating the terms of the initial
stipulation and judgment. The court also found that the
defendant had underreported the values of his investment
accounts, retirement accounts, life insurance, and
anticipated tax refund; he also underreported the value of
the plaintiff's share of a condominium in New Jersey. The
court, therefore, ordered the amount and term of the alimony
altered, the amounts the defendant owed to the plaintiff with
respect to various marital assets and retirement accounts
altered, and awarded the plaintiff attorney's fees. On
September 27, 2013, the court issued a correction to its
memorandum of decision; the correction fixed a calculation
error but the court declined to amend its prior award of
attorney's fees. This appeal followed.
review of the file reveals that the defendant did not contest
the plaintiff's motion to open. The court did not make a
finding of fraud, but opened the judgment nonetheless based
on the agreement of the parties. Neither party has ...