January 8, 2018
for the dissolution of a marriage, and for other relief,
brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of New
Haven and tried to the court, Abery-Wet-stone, J.; judgment
dissolving the marriage and granting certain other relief;
thereafter, the court, Gould, J., denied the plaintiff's
motion for child support and granted the defendant's
motion for contempt, and the plaintiff appealed to this
court. Reversed; further proceedings.
R. Dembo, with whom, were Caitlin E. Kozloski and, on the
brief, P. Jo Anne Burgh, for the appellant (plaintiff).
Richard W. Callahan, for the appellee (defendant).
DiPentima, C. J., and Sheldon and Devlin, Js.
DIPENTIMA, C. J.
plaintiff, Jean-Pierre Bolat, appeals from certain
postdissolution orders denying his motion for child support
and finding him in contempt. On appeal, the plaintiff argues
that the court erred in (1) denying his motion for child
support and in finding no substantial change in the
parties' financial circumstances since the date of
judgment despite an increase in the income of the defendant,
Yumi S. Bolat, and (2) finding him in contempt for failing to
pay extracurricular activity expenses. We agree with the
plaintiff as to both claims and, accordingly, reverse the
judgment of the trial court.
following facts are relevant to the resolution of the issues
on appeal. The plaintiff and the defendant were married on
September 21, 1998, in Harpswell, Maine. At the time the
parties met and married, the plaintiff was an active duty
officer in the Navy. The defendant is a Japanese national.
The parties have three children: a son born in 1999, a son
born in 2001, and a daughter born in 2003. The parties raised
their children in Japan until the breakup of their marriage
in 2010. Thereafter, the plaintiff moved to Connecticut with
the children, where they have resided since that time. The
defendant followed the family to Connecticut. She initially
entered the United States on a visitor's visa but
eventually was granted her green card.
2010, the plaintiff instituted this action for dissolution of
marriage. On June 21, 2011, the court,
Abery-Wetstone, J., rendered a judgment of
dissolution, which incorporated the parties' separation
agreement and parenting plan-final custody stipulation
(parenting plan). According to the parenting plan, the
plaintiff would have sole legal and primary physical custody
of the three minor children. Pursuant to the separation
agreement, the parties agreed that, on the basis of the total
coordination of family finances, and because the plaintiff
was unemployed and receiving only retired military pay, there
would be no order of child support. The separation agreement
also provided that the parties would share agreed upon
extracurricular expenses for the minor children and that each
party would notify the other of any change in his or her
employment status or income. Finally, the parties
acknowledged that, due to a qualifying disability pursuant to
General Statutes § 46b-84c, their elder son was entitled
to receive child support until he attained the age of
parties filed financial affidavits at the time of the
dissolution. The plaintiff's financial affidavit, filed
June 21, 2011, reflected a gross weekly income of $830.46 and
a net weekly income of $709.59. The defendant's
affidavit, filed June 21, 2011, reflected a gross weekly
income of $134 and a net weekly income of $181.
September 6, 2013, the defendant filed a motion seeking,
inter alia, to modify the custody orders. The defendant filed
a financial affidavit, dated March 20, 2014, reflecting a
total gross weekly income of $1150 and a total net weekly
income of $901. On July 15, 2014, the court, Munro,
J., denied the defendant's motion.
August 13, 2014, the plaintiff, as a self-represented party,
filed a motion for modification form (JD-FM-174) in which he
identified the ‘‘[r]ecent decision by Judge Munro
and loss of employment'' as substantial changes in
circumstances warranting the modification of child support.
While the plaintiff's motion for modification was
pending, the defendant filed a motion seeking to hold the
plaintiff in contempt for his failure to pay his share of
extracurricular activities. Following a hearing on March 2,
2015, the court, Gould, J., denied the
plaintiff's motion for modification, finding that there
was no substantial change in circumstances warranting an
order of child support. The court also found the plaintiff in
wilful contempt of a prior court order. Specifically, the
court found that the plaintiff owed the defendant for
approximately 50 percent of all extracurricular activities
for the minor children in the amount of $847.99. The
plaintiff then filed the present appeal.
plaintiff first claims that the trial court erred in finding
no substantial change of circumstances and denying the motion
for child support where the evidence clearly established that
the defendant's income had increased significantly.
Specifically, the plaintiff argues that the court should have
reviewed the exhibits submitted with the motion and the
parties' then current financial affidavits prior to
concluding that no substantial change in circumstances had
occurred. We agree.
first set forth our standard of review. ‘‘The
standard of review in family matters is well settled. 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.'' (Internal quotation marks omitted).
O'Donnell v. Bozzuti, 148 Conn.App. 80, 82- 83,
84 A.3d 479 (2014). ‘‘Notwithstanding the great
deference accorded the trial court in dissolution
proceedings, a trial court's ruling . . . may be ...