September 20, 2017
V. DeRosa, for the appellant (plaintiff).
V. Schoonmaker IV, with whom, on the brief, was Wendy Dunne
DiChristina, for the appellee (defendant).
DiPentima, C. J., and Kahn and Sullivan, Js. [*]
DIPENTIMA, C. J.
plaintiff, Richard Kent, appeals from the judgment of the
trial court setting forth financial orders incident to the
dissolution of his marriage to the defendant, Florence
DiPaola. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the court erred
with respect to its orders regarding the defendant's
pensions, the marital home and the percentage of the marital
estate that was awarded to him. We disagree and, accordingly,
affirm the judgment.
following facts, as set forth in the court's memorandum
of decision, and procedural history are relevant to our
discussion. The parties met in March, 1989, and soon
thereafter, the plaintiff moved into the defendant's
home. The parties were married in March, 1998,
and have a minor child. During the course of their
relationship, the parties kept their finances separate. They
also maintained records of ‘‘virtually
everything'' that they purchased, and the
‘‘receipts were then tallied by the plaintiff and
monitored by him through a monthly spreadsheet so that each
party could pay their share. This included keeping track of
such small details as how much was spent on phone calls, hot
dogs, stamps, dog food and cookies.''
late 1990s, the plaintiff worked in the financial sector,
earning $168, 000 in 1998. In 2004, he switched careers and
became a realtor. In 2013, he earned approximately $76, 000,
but in 2014, only $7437. As a result of this decreased
income, the plaintiff, who was sixty-three years old at the
time of trial and had no health conditions that significantly
impacted his ability to work,  had been using his retirement
accounts to pay his living expenses. The defendant, who was
nearly seventy-two years old at the time of trial,
retired following ‘‘an impressive and
accomplished work history that spanned forty-four years. She
worked her way up the corporate ladder from a junior entry
level position to a managing director.''
defendant had several pensions in pay status that provided
her with approximately $50, 000 in gross annual income. The
plaintiff presented a pension actuary as an expert witness.
The pension actuary testified that the present value of the
defendant's pensions totaled $662, 606. The defendant
also received social security benefits for the child of
approximately $1350 per month.
respect to its financial orders,  the court expressly
considered all of the relevant factors set forth in General
Statutes § 46b-81. The court stated: ‘‘In
addition, the orders reflect the following specific
considerations: (1) as previously noted, the defendant's
contributions to the acquisition, preservation and
appreciation of the assets is far greater than the
plaintiff's contributions; (2) the defendant is being
ordered by this decision to be more responsible than the
plaintiff for the financial support of the parties' minor
child; (3) the plaintiff's age, health and current
employment status lead this court to conclude that he has a
greater opportunity than the defendant to acquire assets and
income postdissolution; (4) the plaintiff is more responsible
than the defendant for the causes of the breakdown of the
marriage; (5) the defendant's noneconomic
contributions to the marriage are far greater than those made
by the plaintiff; (6) each party had a career and wealth at
the time of the marriage, and the defendant had substantially
greater premarital assets; (7) each party is fully capable of
supporting themselves; (8) the length of the marriage; (9)
the plaintiff has provided little to no financial support to
the defendant for the benefit of the child since 2012; and
(10) the unusual financial structure of this marriage where
each party essentially kept their finances separate from each
other, except for a sharing of some expenses for a
substantial period of time.'' (Footnote added.)
court concluded that it was not necessary to calculate the
value of the parties' assets at the time of the marriage
with ‘‘mathematical precision . . . .''
The court stated: ‘‘Based upon the evidence, the
court does find, however, that the defendant came to this
marriage with far greater assets than the plaintiff,
including, most significantly, the Stamford home where the
parties resided together, and that the defendant's
economic and noneconomic contributions to the acquisition,
preservation and appreciation in the value of the
parties' estates were substantially greater than those
made by the plaintiff.''
court divided the combined current assets of the parties,
totaling $4, 619, 655,  awarding 33 percent to the plaintiff
and 67 percent to the defendant. To effectuate this division,
the court ordered a distribution from the defendant to the
plaintiff in the amount of $300, 000 pursuant to §
court did not include the defendant's pensions in this
division. Instead, the court accounted for the
defendant's pensions in a separate calculation. The court
stated: ‘‘The present value of the
defendant's pensions that are all currently in pay status
are not included in this total since those pensions were
substantially accrued prior to the marriage and are being
treated as an income stream that will be used to support the
defendant and the minor child with little financial
contribution being ordered today to be paid by the
court stated that, as a result of the division of assets and
the defendant's receipt of social security income for the
minor child, it was ordering that the defendant be
responsible for the child's educational expenses and
would not order the plaintiff to pay child support. In
further explaining this order, the court noted the
presumptive child support award under the applicable
guidelines would require the plaintiff to pay $257
per week to the defendant. The court stated:
‘‘Based upon the division of assets set forth in
this decision, including the recognition that the defendant
has a steady pension income stream and the plaintiff does
not, a strict application of the guidelines in this case
would be unfair and inappropriate, and a deviation on that
basis from the presumptive support award is
warranted.'' The court deviated from the child
support guidelines on an equitable basis: the defendant,
fully retired with a debt-free home, did not need financial
support from the plaintiff, who was not similarly situated.
Finally, the court ordered the defendant to be liable for the
child's unreimbursed medical and dental expenses, and
awarded the plaintiff $40, 000 for attorney's
fees. This appeal followed.
addressing the specific claims raised by the plaintiff, we
set forth certain relevant legal principles and our standard
of review. ‘‘The purpose of a dissolution action
is to sever the marital relationship, to fix the rights of
the parties with respect to alimony and child support . . .
[and] to divide the marital estate . . . .''
(Internal quotation marks omitted.) Rozsa v. Rozsa,
117 Conn.App. 1, 11, 977 A.2d 722 (2009).
46b-81 governs the distribution of the assets in a
dissolution case. Gyerko v. Gyerko, 113 Conn.App.
298, 303, 966 A.2d 306 (2009). That statute authorizes the
court to assign to either spouse all, or any part of, the
estate of the other spouse. Id., 312.
‘‘In fixing the nature and value of the property,
if any, to be assigned, the court, after considering all the
evidence presented by each party, shall consider the length
of the marriage, the causes for the annulment, dissolution of
the marriage or legal separation, 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 in the acquisition, preservation or
appreciation in value of their respective estates.''
General Statutes § 46b-81 (c); see also Cole-man v.
Coleman, 151 Conn.App. 613, 616-17, 95 A.3d 569 (2014).
standard of review is well established. ‘‘An
appellate court will not disturb a trial court's orders
in domestic relations cases unless the court has abused its
discretion or it is found that it could not reasonably
conclude as it did, based on the facts presented. . . . In
determining whether a trial court has abused its broad
discretion in domestic relations matters, we allow every
reasonable presumption in favor of the correctness of its
action. . . . This standard of review reflects the sound
policy that the trial court has the opportunity to view the
parties first hand and is therefore in the best position to
assess all of the circumstances surrounding a dissolution
action, in which such personal factors such as the demeanor
and the attitude of the parties are so significant. . . .
[a] fundamental principle in dissolution actions is that a
trial court may exercise broad discretion in . . . dividing
property as long as it considers all relevant statutory
criteria. . . . While the trial court must consider the
delineated statutory criteria [when allocating property], no
single criterion is preferred over others, and the court is
accorded wide latitude in varying the weight placed upon each
item under the peculiar circumstances of each case. . . . In
dividing up property, the court must take many factors into
account. . . . A trial court, however, need not give each
factor equal weight . . . or recite the statutory criteria
that it considered in making its decision or make express
findings as to each statutory factor.'' (Citation
omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) Wood v.
Wood, 160 Conn.App. 708, 720-21, 125 A.3d 1040 (2015);
see also O'Brien v. O'Brien, 326 Conn. 81,
121-22, 161 A.3d 1236 (2017); Emerick v. Emerick,
170 Conn.App. 368, 378, 154 A.3d 1069, cert. denied, 327
Conn. 922, A.3d (2017). With these principles in mind, we now
turn to the specific claims of the plaintiff.
plaintiff first claims that the court erred with respect to
its orders regarding the defendant's pensions.
Specifically, he contends that the court improperly failed
(1) to include the pensions in the division of the marital
property and (2) to credit the testimony of his pension
actuary as to the present value of the pensions. We conclude
that, contrary to the plaintiff's claim, the court
accounted for the pensions in its financial orders and,
considering the totality of its orders, did not abuse its
discretion in its valuation or distribution of the pensions.
Further, we are not persuaded that the court improperly
disregarded the testimony of the plaintiff's pension
following additional facts are necessary for our discussion.
During her career, the defendant worked for a number of
companies, including GE Capital, Xerox, Citibank, Bank of
America and MetLife. As a result, she received several
pensions that were in pay status at the time of trial and
provided her with $961 per week, or approximately $50, 000
per year, of gross income. The plaintiff presented a pension
actuary as an expert witness. The court stated:
‘‘The pension [actuary] testified as to the
current present value of the defendant's pension benefits
and also applied a coverture fraction to determine what [the
pension actuary] described as the marital portions of those
pensions with the numerator being the number of years that
the benefit was earned during the marriage and the
denominator being the number of total years that the benefit
was earned with that employer.''
pension actuary determined that the defendant's Citigroup
pension had a present value of $68, 415, but that the marital
value was $0 because it had been earned prior to the
marriage. The pension actuary further concluded that a
pension from Aegon and the GE pensions had present values of
$181, 060 and $413, 131, ...