February 14, 2019
for the dissolution of a marriage, and for other relief,
brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of
Stamford-Norwalk, and tried to the court, Tin-dill,
J.; judgment dissolving the marriage and granting
certain other relief, from which the defendant appealed to
this court; thereafter, the court, Tindill, J.,
granted the defendant's motion for clarification.
Reversed in part; further proceedings.
Pyetranker, for the appellant (defendant).
T. Garosshen, with whom was Kenneth J. Bartschi, for the
Alvord, Keller and Eveleigh, Js.
defendant, Peter Oudheusden, appeals from the judgment of the
trial court dissolving his marriage to the plaintiff, Penny
Oudheusden, and entering certain financial orders. On appeal,
the defendant claims that the court (1) improperly double
counted a marital asset for purposes of the property division
and spousal support awards, and (2) abused its discretion in
failing to make equitable orders in the division of the
marital estate. We agree and, accordingly, reverse in part
the judgment of the trial court and remand the case for a new
trial on all financial issues.
record reveals the following facts, as found by the trial
court or undisputed, and procedural history. The
parties were married on June 29, 1985, and have three adult
children. On April 1, 2016, the plaintiff commenced the
present action against the defendant seeking to dissolve
their thirty year marriage on the ground of irretrievable
breakdown. Following extensive discovery disputes, the
dissolution trial took place over nine days in April and May,
2017. The defendant was self-represented at the time of
trial. During the trial, the court heard
testimony from the plaintiff, the defendant and each of their
expert witnesses, and the court admitted 199 exhibits into
plaintiff was born in Greenwich in 1961. The parties started
dating in high school. Prior to their marriage in 1985, the
plaintiff obtained an undergraduate degree in international
marketing and a master's degree in education. She was
employed as a teacher until 1988, when she left the workforce
to raise their family. The parties agreed that the plaintiff
would remain a fulltime homemaker, and the defendant would
provide the financial support for the family.
defendant has a double major in English and computer science.
Hehad worked atvarious companies during the earlier years of
the marriage, which often resulted in the family moving from
one location to another. In 1997, the defendant started his
own business called Connecticut Computer & Consulting,
Inc. At that time, the defendant was the sole employee of the
corporation, which is a consulting practice with clients in
the pharmaceutical industry. The defendant formed his second
business, WriteResult, LLC, a limited liability company, in
2007. This company complements Connecticut Computer &
Consulting, Inc., and provides services to the same or
comparable clients. WriteResult, LLC, uses different computer
technologies to collect patient data, and there is a heavy
hardware component involved in its work. The defendant owns
and manages both businesses, and he derives all of his income
from his self-employment. The plaintiff always has been
supportive of the defendant's business endeavors.
plaintiff testified that, during the course of the marriage,
the defendant abused her emotionally and, at times,
physically. The plaintiff also was troubled by the
defendant's consumption of alcohol. Problems surfaced
early in the marriage when the defendant told the plaintiff
that their financial situation was dire, and he continued to
voice his concerns about expenditures throughout the
marriage. The plaintiff believed the defendant's
statements because she trusted him, and she never sought
documentation to verify their monetary problems. Creditors
called frequently. She acknowledged that she had been aware
from the beginning of the marriage until the time she
initiated the dissolution proceedings that they had
outstanding federal and state tax liabilities.
the parties purchased a home in Greenwich for $1.5 million in
2002, and proceeded to engage contractors to perform
improvements and renovations to the marital property. Their
three children attended private and public schools before
their college years. Following their secondary education, one
son attended law school and one son attended medical school.
Their daughter attended Dartmouth College. The parties were
in total agreement when it came to sending their children to
these educational institutions, and the defendant paid all of
the substantial expenses from his earnings.
time of trial, the plaintiff was fifty-five years old and the
defendant was fifty-eight years old. With respect to their
health, the plaintiff had a little bit of trouble with her
hearing, and she testified that she recently had ordered
hearing aids. She also testified that she had been diagnosed
with melanoma on the side of her nose in 2011, had it
surgically removed, and was cancer free at that point. The
defendant testified that he was in good health. He
acknowledged that he considered himself an alcoholic, but he
indicated that he had not had a drink in nearly six months.
With respect to employment, the plaintiff was not working and
no longer had a current license to teach. The defendant had
hoped to retire when he reached sixty-five years of age and,
if possible, engage in some limited consulting work. He
testified that the parties did not have a retirement account.
from the two businesses, the only other significant marital
property was the marital home in Greenwich. It had an
appraised value of $1.7 million, but was encumbered by two
mortgages and tax liens. The defendant ceased making payments
on the first mortgage in October, 2015, and a foreclosure
action was pending at the time of trial. The parties had
significant debts. In addition to federal and state tax
liabilities, the plaintiff and the defendant, who
previously had been represented by counsel in this action,
owed substantial fees to their counsel and their experts.
fair market value of the defendant's two businesses was a
key issue in these proceedings. The plaintiff's expert,
James R. Guberman, and the defendant's expert, Mark S.
Gottlieb, provided extensive testimony as to the
methodologies used and the conclusions reached as to
valuation. The court credited Guberman's testimony that
the combined fair market value of Connecticut Computer &
Consulting, Inc., and WriteResult, LLC, was $904, 000. The
court further found that the defendant's gross annual
income from these businesses was $550, 000.
parties submitted current financial affidavits and proposed
orders to the court at the conclusion of the trial. During
his cross-examination of Guberman, his closing argument, and
in his proposed orders, the defendant cautioned the court
against double counting the value of his businesses and his
salary in dividing the marital estate and in awarding
alimony. Additionally, the plaintiff's counsel, in his
closing argument and in the plaintiff's proposed orders,
acknowledged the danger of double counting an asset for
purposes of the property division and support awards. In his
closing argument, the plaintiff's counsel stated:
‘‘[A]nd I will concede this to [the defendant].
And this is reflected in paragraph 2.4 of article two of our
proposed orders that were filed today. Whatever value
the court attributes to the business, the court has to, and
should back out a reasonable salary for the officer and owner
of the company.
if the court is going to set a support order based on his
income, it would not be fair and equitable to also ask that