Superior Court of Connecticut, Judicial District of Hartford, Hartford
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER RE DEFENDANT'S
MOTION FOR CONTEMPT (#172)
Nastri, Jr., Judge.
action for dissolution of marriage was brought by writ of
summons and complaint dated June 12, 2015, with a return date
of June 30, 2015. The defendant filed a cross complaint on
June 25, 2015. (#105.) Thereafter, on November 27, 2016, the
defendant filed a motion (#172) seeking to have the plaintiff
held in contempt for failing to obey the order of the court
(Suarez J.) (#153) that she comply with the defendant's
November 17, 2015 requests for production within thirty days
of the order.
plaintiff, Nadia Wedderburn, whose birth name was Nadia
Gooden,  and the defendant, Glenroy Wedderburn,
were married on December 12, 2007 in Trelawny, Jamaica, West
Indies. The plaintiff resided in Connecticut for more than
one year before she filed the complaint. The marriage
produced two minor children: DaJuan Wedderburn, born August
13, 2004 and Reece Wedderburn, born October 7, 2013.
court heard the testimony of the parties on November 29 and
30, and December 1, 2016. Both parties were represented by
counsel. Each party testified at great length. The plaintiff
introduced twenty full exhibits; the defendant introduced
twenty-three full exhibits. The plaintiff also elicited
testimony from Aisha Hudson, the defendant's friend and
Statutes § 46b-81(c) provides the statutory framework
for equitable distribution of property. It provides, in
relevant part: " In fixing the nature and value of the
property, if any, to be assigned, the court . . . shall
consider the length of the marriage, the causes for the . . .
dissolution . . . the age, health, station, occupation,
amount and sources of income, earning capacity, vocational
skills, education, employability, estate, liabilities and
needs of each of the parties and the opportunity of each for
future acquisition of capital assets and income. The court
shall also consider the contribution of each of the parties
to the acquisition, preservation, or appreciation in value of
their respective estates."
plaintiff was born in Jamaica, West Indies on July 8, 1978.
She is currently thirty-eight years old. She arrived in this
country in 1999. The plaintiff has worked as a customer
service representative for Eversource for the last seven
years, presently earning a gross wage of $1, 002 per week.
Defendant's Exhibit M . She had been employed as
a customer service representative at American Airlines before
she left for the job at Eversource. She changed jobs for
better opportunities, better benefits and more money.
plaintiff has a bachelors degrees in International Relations
and Sociology from the University of West Indies. She also
earned an associates degree from the Culinary Institute about
seven years ago. She hoped to use the skills she learned at
the Culinary Institute to open a restaurant, a venture in
which the defendant had no interest.
February 2015, the plaintiff suffered a stroke that kept her
out of work for two to three months. She is currently
asymptomatic although she is still medically monitored. She
takes a daily aspirin along with medication to control her
blood pressure and anxiety.
defendant was born in Jamaica on January 5, 1978. He is
thirty-eight years old and in good health. He has a high
school education. The defendant works for Owens, Renz &
Lee Realty as an electrician. He has an E-2 electrician's
license requiring him to work under the supervision of
someone with an E-1 electrician's license. The defendant
has been at Owens, Renz & Lee Realty for about three
years. He was previously employed by Griffin Electric as an
electrician E-2 for about thirteen years. He reported on his
financial affidavit that he earns a gross income of $1,
255.26 from Owens, Renz & Lee Realty. The defendant also
earns income from rental properties he has bought and
rehabilitated. His financial affidavit reflects weekly gross
rental income of $883.72. Defendant's Exhibit B
defendant currently owns two rent-producing properties but,
during the marriage he bought and sold several others. At one
point during the marriage, the defendant had a goal of
starting a business buying, rehabilitating, and selling
residential real estate, a process he described as "
addition to his two sons with the plaintiff, the defendant
has a seventeen-year-old daughter, Chazene, with another
woman. He has been arrested twice for domestic violence; once
with the plaintiff and once with his daughter's mother.
He has no convictions.
in the Marriage
parties were together for about fifteen years but married for
only nine of them. Their oldest son was born three years
before the marriage; their youngest son was born six years
after the marriage.
defendant identified the main problem in the marriage as his
belief the plaintiff had an extramarital affair. He
identified the other party to the affair as Dwayne Barrett,
someone with whom he alleged the plaintiff had a relationship
before the marriage. The defendant acknowledged the plaintiff
never admitted to the affair but testified he was always
distrustful of her as a result of his suspicions. The
defendant also described the plaintiff as very selfish. The
defendant complained that the parties never discussed
finances, had no joint accounts, no joint debts and filed
separate income tax returns. He also complained that the
plaintiff never allowed him to claim their sons as dependents
for tax purposes, despite his repeated requests that he be
allowed to do so. The defendant testified that when the
parties argued, he had to give in or the argument never
ended. He also testified that they argued a lot.
plaintiff denied under oath that she ever had an affair
although she acknowledged the defendant accused her of having
affairs several times during their marriage. She also denied
ever dating anyone named Dwayne. For her part, the plaintiff
tied the demise of the marriage to the emotional and physical
abuse she claimed the defendant inflicted on her. She alleged
that after DaJuan was born, the defendant began to criticize
her body, specifically a body part she declined to identify.
She reported that whenever they argued, and she agreed they
argued often, the defendant referred to her body in demeaning
terms, eventually causing her to lose self-confidence. She
also complained the defendant did not support her when she
had her stroke, a claim the defendant denied.
plaintiff also testified there were two instances of physical
violence during the parties' marriage. On the first
occurrence, the parties were arguing about the defendant
staying out late at a club, according to the plaintiff. By
the plaintiff's account, the defendant thought she was
being disrespectful, grabbed her by the throat and choked
her. She said DaJuan was present and tried to pull the
defendant away from her.
defendant did not deny they argued on that occasion but
denied he ever laid his hands on his wife or that DaJuan was
a witness to the argument. Regardless of what actually
happened, the defendant was arrested and was the subject of a
full protective order. Plaintiff's Exhibit
4 . The plaintiff was the protected party. The order
prevented the defendant from returning to the marital home
for about a month. Plaintiff's Exhibit 4
. Eventually, after the defendant took
some family violence classes, the plaintiff agreed to a nolle
entering on the defendant's charges mainly because DaJuan
wanted his father home. The plaintiff denied recanting her
story as the defendant claimed. She testified the defendant
apologized to her for his behavior.
plaintiff reported another instance of domestic violence, not
involving the police. She recalled an argument with the
defendant while she was pregnant with Reece. During the
argument, the defendant raised his hand to strike her but the
defendant's mother interceded to protect the plaintiff,
who reported being scared but uninjured.
plaintiff also reported an incident that occurred once when
the parties were returning from Jamaica. The defendant was
detained at customs due to an outstanding arrest warrant.
Subsequently, he was arrested for burglary and risk of injury
to a minor as a result of a domestic violence incident with
his daughter's mother. The plaintiff said she went to the
police department with the defendant and supported him in
court. She did not know what happened to the case other than
that the defendant was not convicted.
plaintiff claimed she tried to get the defendant to engage in
marriage counseling throughout the marriage and as late as
May 2015, but he steadfastly refused. She testified he told
her in May 2015 that marriage counseling would not work
because he did not love her anymore and was already done with
the marriage. The defendant testified the plaintiff gave him
an ultimatum: either marriage counseling or divorce. He
claimed he was willing to get co-parenting counseling but
would not respond to an ultimatum. The plaintiff testified
she went to counseling on her own and believed it helped her
gain the perspective she needed.
parties largely agree on the parenting plan recommended by
the Office of Family Relations.
party requested alimony.
Post-Secondary Education Expense
plaintiff asked the court to retain jurisdiction over this
plaintiff testified she pays for health insurance for herself
and the parties' two minor children through her employer.
The defendant pays for his own health insurance through his
parties own their marital home at 64 Briarwood Drive,
Windsor. They bought it in July 2003, before the marriage,
for $139, 000, and moved in immediately. Defendant's
Exhibit O . They each contributed $5000 to the purchase.
They took a second mortgage in April 2006, to do some
renovations on the marital home and to purchase an income
producing property at 292 Saybrooke Street, Hartford.
Defendant's Exhibit T . They were able to
pay off the second mortgage in 2007. Defendant's
Exhibit U . The renovations included a refurbished
kitchen, a new roof, siding and hardwood floors. Later, the
parties added central air conditioning, a deck and hot tub,
and also finished the basement. The defendant did most of the
work on the home. A recent appraisal valued the property at
$180, 000 and found it to be in above average condition.
Plaintiff's Exhibit 1 . The defendant testified
he paid the mortgage throughout and before the marriage. He
also acknowledged the plaintiff paid other household
expenses, in keeping with their tacit agreement to keep their
finances separate. The marital home is currently encumbered
by a mortgage of $117, 896, as of September 8, 2016.
Defendant's Exhibit I .
parties own an income-producing property at 27-29 Brook
Street, Hartford. The property, which was purchased in
January 2007, for $90, 000 with the proceeds from the sale of
292 Saybrooke Street, is titled in the defendant's name.
Plaintiff's Exhibit 14 . The building has three
units. The first and second floor apartments have three
bedrooms; the third floor unit cannot be used as an apartment
because it doesn't have a second egress.
Plaintiff's Exhibit 2 .
defendant intended to use it as an office for his real estate
business but claimed the first floor tenant is using it for
storage. When confronted with an appraiser's pictures
showing furniture, a Christmas tree, a fish tank and
children's pictures on the wall in the living room and
kitchen utensils and cooking paraphernalia in the kitchen,
the defendant admitted he didn't know how the tenant was
using the space. Plaintiff's Exhibit 2 .
to the defendant, the first floor unit rents for $900 per
month plus utilities. The current tenant has been there eight
or nine years and has a month-to-month lease. The second
floor rents for $850 per month with the tenant paying the
utilities. The defendant testified the current tenant of the
second floor had not paid rent in three months so the
defendant is going to start eviction proceedings. The
plaintiff's appraiser valued the property at $150, 000.
Plaintiff's Exhibit 2 . The defendant took pains
to point out that he bought the house for cash and put a
mortgage on the property for $180, 000, all before the
parties were married. Defendant's Exhibit E .
The property is currently encumbered by a mortgage of $162,
000. Defendant's Exhibit H .
parties also own an income-producing property at 199-201
Holmstead Avenue, Hartford. The property also is titled in
the defendant's name. The defendant purchased the
property for $44, 500 in August 2010, with proceeds of a
mortgage on the Brook Street property. The property has three
rental units. Plaintiff's Exhibit 3 . The first
floor tenant pays $900 per month plus utilities and the third
floor tenant pays $850 per month but pays for the utilities.
The second floor apartment is occupied by the defendant's
sister and her children. The defendant's sister does not
pay rent but the defendant testified the unit normally would
rent for $850 per month. The plaintiff's appraiser valued
the property at $140, 000. Plaintiff's Exhibit 3
. There is no mortgage on the property.
E of the defendant's 2014 tax return shows the two rental
properties produced gross rental income that year of $31,
104. Plaintiff's Exhibit 10 . The same schedule
on the defendant's 2015 return shows the properties
produced gross rental income that year of $50, 809.
Plaintiff's Exhibit 11 .
parties maintained separate bank accounts throughout the
marriage. In the six months following the filing of the
divorce action, the defendant removed almost $49, 000 from
his accounts, nearly $40, 000 from one account and $9, 000
from the other. In 2015, the defendant withdrew from his
Hartford Federal Credit Union account $8, 000 on June 16, $4,
000 on June 29, $5, 000 on July 2, $3, 000 on August 31, $5,
000 on September 16, $3, 000 on October 23, $1, 500 on
November 17, $5, 000 on November 24, $1, 000 on December 4,
$1, 500 on December 17, $1, 500 on December 21, and $1, 500
on December 23. Plaintiff's Exhibits 5 and 6 .
The same year, he also withdrew $4, 000 on June 24, and $5,
000 on July 2, from his People's United
account. Plaintiff's Exhibit 9 .
The Hartford Federal Credit Union account balance went from
$31, 544 to $850 between June 2015, and December
2015. Plaintiff's Exhibits 5 and
6 . Interestingly, in the five months before the divorce
started, the defendant did not withdraw any money from that
account. Plaintiff's Exhibit 5 .
defendant claimed the money was used to operate the rental
properties in the normal course of business, to furnish his
new apartment, to pay his lawyer a retainer, and to settle a
lawsuit. Specifically, he testified he used the $8, 000
withdrawn on June 16 to renovate the second floor apartment
at Brook Street, the $4, 000 withdrawn on June 29 to return a
security deposit and renovate some bathrooms, the $5, 000
withdrawn on July 2 for a pre-planned Jamaican vacation, and
the $5, 000 withdrawn on September 16 for legal fees. He also
testified he spent $12, 000 in December 2015 on unspecified
renovations to the income-producing properties, and settled a
lawsuit over water bills for $6, 225. He denied moving any of
the money to other bank accounts or of having any money left
after he paid his expenses.
plaintiff claimed the defendant has bank accounts in Jamaica,
a claim the defendant denied. The plaintiff testified she
found two bank books for accounts at National Commercial Bank
in Jamaica among the defendant's belongings in the
basement of the marital home where he was living after she
filed the divorce action. According to the plaintiff, the
bank books were in the defendant's name. The plaintiff
didn't take the bank books but wrote down the account
numbers. Plaintiff's Exhibit 15 . The bank books
indicated that one account had $6, 152, 365.27 Jamaican
dollars (account number ending in 6702) and the other account
contained $5, 802 in U.S. dollars (account number ending in
9868). The plaintiff testified the exchange rate at the time
she found the bank books was 116 Jamaican dollars to one U.S.
dollar. The defendant did not contradict the
plaintiff's testimony regarding the exchange rate.
plaintiff also found an ATM withdrawal receipt showing $10,
000 Jamaican dollars were withdrawn from one account on May
29, 2015 at 4:55 p.m. (account number ending in 6702).
Plaintiff's Exhibit 16 . The withdrawal
receipt also indicated the balance on the account was $5,
539, 582.07 Jamaican dollars, or $47, 755.01 U.S. dollars,
after the withdrawal. The account number on the withdrawal
receipt matched the account number on one of the bank books
the plaintiff found in her basement. The plaintiff testified
she and the defendant were in Jamaica on May 29, 2015. She
also testified the defendant told her he had Jamaican
accounts that he was going to use to buy land. The plaintiff
acknowledged she didn't know if he had done so. The
defendant admitted he once had bank accounts in Jamaica but
testified he hasn't had one in many years, long before
parties kept their financial affairs separate throughout
their marriage. They have individually owned bank accounts,
credit cards and automobiles. The only joint asset they have
is the marital home.
defendant accused the plaintiff of being a profligate
spender. He alleged she entered the marriage with substantial
credit card debt and continued to amass more debt during the
marriage. The plaintiff listed total liabilities of $53, 005
on her financial affidavit, $20, 550 of those liabilities
were credit card debts. Most of the balance was for her
student loan and attorneys fees. The defendant wasn't
afraid to use his credit card, either. He listed total
liabilities of $30, 930, a large portion of which related to
the income-producing properties and the defendant's
parties were represented by counsel.
Motion for Contempt
defendant seeks to have the plaintiff held in contempt for
her failure to provide him with certain credit card records.
The court, Suarez, J., ordered the plaintiff to obtain and
provide the records to the defendant. (#153.) The plaintiff
wrote to the credit card companies requesting the records and
was told that the records available were limited to certain
time periods. Plaintiff's Exhibit 19 . The
defendant wanted the records to support his claim that the
plaintiff brought substantial debt to the marriage.
court finds all facts by a preponderance of the evidence
presented. The court has listened carefully to the witnesses
and assessed their credibility. " It is the sole
province of the trial court to weigh and interpret the
evidence before it and to pass on the credibility of the
witnesses . . . It has the advantage of viewing and
assessing the demeanor, attitude and credibility of the
witnesses and is therefore better equipped . . . to assess
the circumstances surrounding the dissolution action."
(Emphasis in original; internal quotation marks omitted.)
Zahringer v. Zahringer, 124 Conn.App. 672, 679-80, 6
A.3d 141 (2010).
court has reviewed all exhibits and given them appropriate
weight. The court has applied all applicable law, including
that law found in General Statutes § § 46b-56,
46b-62, 46b-84, 46b-86 and 46b-87.
court unseals all financial affidavits and takes judicial
notice of all pleadings in the court's file.
statutory stays have expired and the court is free to enter a
judgment of dissolution.
allegations of the complaint are proven and true.
marriage of the parties has broken down irretrievably.
party is more at fault for the failure of their marriage than
is the other.
parties have two minor children issue of the marriage: DaJuan
Wedderburn, born August 13, 2004, and Reece Wedderburn, born
October 7, 2013.
the state of Connecticut nor any municipality therein has
contributed to the support of either party or the minor
in the best interests of the minor children for the parties
to have joint legal custody with the plaintiff having
plaintiff earns a weekly gross income of $1, 002 and a net
income of $688. Defendant's Exhibit M .
defendant earns a gross weekly income of $2, 138.98 and a net
weekly income of $1, 710.10. Defendant's Exhibit
child support guidelines indicate the defendant should pay
$265 per week to the plaintiff based on their net weekly
incomes as shown on their financial affidavits, assuming the
plaintiff is the head of household and each party claims one
child as a tax deduction.
parties both own the martial home.
plaintiff is currently in possession of the marital
parties' marriage had remained intact, they would have
provided post-secondary educational ...