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Karabelas v. Karabelas

Superior Court of Connecticut, Judicial District of New London, Norwich

May 31, 2016

Sophia Karabelas
v.
Konstantinos Karabelas Opinion No. 133802

          Judge (with first initial, no space for Sullivan, Dorsey, and Walsh): Connors, Susan A., J.

          MEMORANDUM OF DECISION

          Connors, J.

         This dissolution of marriage action was commenced by the plaintiff, Sophia Karabelas, against the defendant, Konstantinos Karabelas, by summons and complaint dated November 17, 2014, bearing a return date of December 9, 2014. The case was tried before the court over the course of three days on March 15, 2016, March 23, 2016 and May 17, 2016. The plaintiff was represented by Attorney Jonathan Lane of Mariani Reck Lane, LLC and the defendant was represented at the time of trial by Attorney Robert Tukey of Suisman, Shapiro, Wool, Brennan Gray & Greenberg, P.C. The parties agreed to a parenting plan, which became an order of the court on March 11, 2016, leaving this court to determine the financial issues incident to their dissolution of marriage.

         Also before the court are the plaintiff's pendente lite Motion for Contempt and Attorneys Fees, Nos. 154 and 154.25, dated October 22, 2015. In her Motion, the plaintiff contends that the defendant has willfully failed to pay his child support as ordered by the court.

         The court heard testimony from both parties. Several exhibits were introduced into evidence. Upon careful consideration of the evidence presented, the pertinent statutory law, in particular General Statutes § § 46b-81 (assignment of the marital estate), 46b-82 (alimony), 46b-84 (child support) and the relevant case law and having observed the demeanor and assessed the credibility of the witnesses, the court makes the following findings of fact and conclusions of law. All findings are made by a fair preponderance of the evidence except as otherwise stated herein.

         I

         Jurisdiction

         The plaintiff and the defendant, whose birth name was Sophia Anastasiou, were married on August 9, 2002 in Kodevazena, Greece. Both parties continuously resided in the state of Connecticut for at least one year before this action was commenced. The parties have two minor children, issue of the marriage, to wit: Alkiviades Karabelas born March 18, 2003; and Dimitrios Karabelas, born April 5, 2010. The plaintiff is not currently pregnant. Neither the parties nor their children have been the recipients of state or municipal assistance during the marriage. The court finds that the allegations of the complaint are proven and true. The parties' marriage has broken down irretrievably and there is no hope of reconciliation. All statutory stays have expired. The court has jurisdiction over this matter.

         II

         Factual Background and Findings

         The plaintiff is 34 years old, in generally good health, completed two years of college at the Fashion Institute of Technology, but never completed her coursework or obtained a degree as she got pregnant with the parties' first child and motherhood became her primary position. She has since worked as a waitress in a restaurant owned by her father and uncle. She works approximately 12 hours per week earning $10 per hour plus tips. She earns approximately $100 per week in tips.

         The defendant is 48 years old and in good health. His first language is Greek and he has difficulty reading or writing in English. He too has always worked in the restaurant business since coming to America. Up until shortly after this action was commenced, the defendant worked in the plaintiff's family's restaurant as a cook. He now works at the Lyme Tavern. By all reports he is and always has been an extremely hard worker. He earns $11 per hour and averages close to 40 hours per week.

         The parties met while the plaintiff was vacationing with her family in Greece. At the time the plaintiff was enrolled in college in New York and the defendant was working on his family's farm. Shortly after marrying the defendant relocated to Connecticut. Throughout the vast majority of the marriage the parties resided with the plaintiff's parents and worked in her family restaurant.

         This case was tried over two issues: 1) the division of the parties' joint bank account and 2) the child support award. The parties had approximately $105, 325.42 in a joint account at Citizens Bank at the commencement of this action. Shortly thereafter the defendant withdrew $20, 018. Fearful that the defendant would further deplete funds, the plaintiff transferred the money into an account in her sole name. Thereafter the defendant received $7, 500 from the account towards his attorneys fees and an additional $3, 000 with which to secure an apartment. The balance in the account at the conclusion of the trial was only $34, 000. Very little evidence was introduced to establish how the plaintiff utilized the funds. The evidence did establish that $8, 236.07 of said funds were plaintiff's premarital monies.

         The defendant seeks 65% of the total of the $105, 325.42 or $68, 461.52 plus 100% of the parties' 2015 income tax refunds in the amount of $10, 575. The plaintiff sought an order awarding the defendant only $10, 000 of the remaining funds.

         Additionally, the plaintiff seeks an order of child support and presented the court with five different calculations based upon the plaintiff's claimed actual earnings and her earning capacity as claimed by the defendant. Despite the wide range in the income figures for the plaintiff ranging from $214 to $500 per week, the presumptive support amount changes less than $5 per week from $143 to $138. The defendant seeks a deviation from the guidelines and asks for an order of no child support contending he does not have the resources to pay any child support. The defendant submitted guidelines with a presumptive weekly support amount from the defendant to the plaintiff in the amount of $124 based upon a gross weekly income of $715 for the plaintiff. No evidence was introduced to support such an earning capacity.

         The parties owned one vehicle; a 2008 Audi A4, at the outset of this action. It is the vehicle the defendant primarily drove. It is titled solely in his name and the monthly car payment is $318. The car is inoperable at the present time and will cost over $6, 000 to repair. During the course of these proceedings the plaintiff used $5, 000 from the joint account to purchase a vehicle that is held in her mother's name. The defendant also purchased a 2012 Hyundai Sonata during the pendency of this action when the Audi became inoperable and too costly to repair. His first payment is due this month. Contending that he didn't have sufficient funds to make either his upcoming car or rent payment, the defendant made an oral request at the conclusion of the trial for the immediate disbursement of funds to him from the joint account monies. This court granted the request and ordered the plaintiff to disburse to the defendant the sum of $5, 000 increasing the amount the defendant received during the proceedings to $35, 518. Additionally $1, 000 was paid from the joint account to the Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) on the defendant's behalf.

         Much time was spent at trial on the issue of who paid $120 for footwear for one of the parties' sons contending that it went to the credibility of the parties. Regardless of who the court finds more credible, one fact remains-the parties drastically depleted their life's saving as a result of their inability to work with one another and reach an agreement as to how they should resolve the two issues before the court.

         The plaintiff attributes the breakdown of the marriage to the defendant's abuse and lack of affection towards her. The plaintiff admitted to having feelings for a co-worker in the summer of 2014. She broke down when testifying that the defendant never gave her an engagement ring, never wanted to do anything with her, never held her hand, never told her that he loved her and never took her out.

         The defendant believes the marriage broke down as a result of the plaintiff's family's interference in their marriage and the plaintiff's infidelity.

         The court finds that both parties were at fault for the breakdown of the marriage. There is a significant age difference between the parties and they had different philosophies on what a marriage should be. The defendant felt he was satisfying his obligations by working hard and providing ...


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