April 11, 2016
from Superior Court, judicial district of Stamford-Norwalk,
Hon. Stanley Novack, judge trial referee [dissolution
judgment]; Heller, J. [motion for contempt].)
V. Schoonmaker IV, with whom, on the brief, was
Wendy Dunne DiChristina, for the appellant (defendant).
R. Dembo, with whom were Caitlin E. Koz-loski and, on the
brief, P. Jo Anne Burgh, for the appellee (plaintiff).
Sheldon and Mullins, Js.
postdissolution action, the defendant, Steven Luttinger,
appeals from the judgment of the trial court granting in part
the motion for contempt filed by the plaintiff, Sue Nadel. He
claims that the court erred in (1) categorizing a cash
performance award received by the defendant as an asset to be
distributed as property pursuant to the separation agreement,
rather than as earned income to be distributed pursuant to
provisions regarding alimony, and (2) finding the amount owed
to the plaintiff. We disagree with the defendant's first
claim, but agree with the second.
following facts and procedural history are relevant. The
parties were married in November, 1991. The plaintiff filed
for dissolution and, on December 17, 2013, a hearing was
held. At that time, the parties presented a separation
agreement to the court, Hon. Stanley Novack, judge
trial referee. The dissolution judgment, which was
rendered on January 8, 2014, incorporated by reference the
parties' December, 2013 separation agreement.
agreement provided for alimony and for the division of
property. Alimony was addressed in paragraph 2 of the
agreement. Paragraph 2B provided that alimony was to be
calculated with reference to the defendant's
‘‘earned income.'' The amount of the
obligation was determined by a sliding scale:
‘‘(1) On the first $250, 000 of [the
defendant's] earned income, both cash and non-cash, [the
plaintiff] will receive 25%; (2) On $250, 001 to $500, 000 of
[the defendant's] earned income, both cash and non-cash,
[the plaintiff] will receive 20%; (3) On $500, 001 to $750,
000 of [the defendant's] earned income, both cash and
non-cash, [the plaintiff] will receive 15%; (4) On $750, 001
to $1, 000, 000 of [the defendant's] earned income, both
cash and non-cash, [the plaintiff] will receive 10%; (5) Over
$1, 000, 000, [the plaintiff] will not share. (6) Connecticut
General Statutes § [46b-86 (b)] shall apply.''
Paragraph 2C defined the defendant's ‘‘earned
income'' as ‘‘all amounts paid to him for
his personal services, including: wages, commissions,
bonuses, consulting fees, finder's fees, or any other
type of compensation both cash and non-cash he has the right
to receive for his personal services.''
2D provided that the defendant's ‘‘earned
income will include both cash and non-cash compensation;
provided, however, that [the plaintiff's] entitlementtoa
percentage of [the defendant's] earned income will be
satisfied first out of all cash paid to [the defendant]
during a calendar year . . . . If [the defendant] should
voluntarily defer any cash compensation, or shall voluntarily
elect non-cash compensation in lieu of cash, then in that
event, he shall be deemed to have received the voluntary
deferral in cash.''
agreement contained other provisions regarding alimony that
are not directly relevant here. It is clear from the
agreement, then, that the plaintiff was entitled to a
decreasing percentage share of the defendant's earned
income as the amount of his income rose, and the agreement
contemplated that both cash and non-cash remuneration would
be subject to alimony.
as to property division were addressed in paragraph 5.
Paragraph 5A provided that ten specifically listed financial
assets, not including the award in issue in this case, were
to be divided equally at the time of dissolution.
5B is critical to the analysis of this case. The heading of
the paragraph is ‘‘AMC Restricted Stock Awards and
Units (husband).'' The paragraph provides:
‘‘The division of assets as equitable
distribution shall include all restricted stock units and
options that have been awarded to [the defendant] through the
date of the dissolution of the marriage, including non-vested
RSU's and options. If and when non-vested awards
of any kind become vested, then the [plaintiff] shall
forthwith be entitled to her share thereof net of all
applicable taxes based on the tax rate from the year in which
the applicable taxes are imposed. Within 7 days after
RSU's vest, the [plaintiff] shall receive her share,
taking into account any appreciation or depreciation of said
shares. Within 30 days after the filing of the
[defendant's] tax return in which the receipt of the
restricted stock units are reflected, the parties shall
‘true-up' in order to share equitably the tax
burden on the vesting of the RSU's.'' Although
paragraph 5B does not expressly state how the parties were to
divide the net proceeds of assets subject to the paragraph,
the parties agreed that such assets were to be divided evenly
the relevant times, the defendant was employed by AMC. He
participated in two incentive programs. One, the
‘‘AMC Networks Restricted Share Awards,
'' though not directly in issue in this appeal, has
been referred to by the parties, and facts concerning the
program appear in the record. Pursuant to that program, the
defendant received in 2011 a total of 4250 shares of
restricted AMC stock, which did not vest until March, 2014.
The defendant considered this ...