DAELTE ST. DENIS-LIMA
THOMAS J. ST. DENIS
October 10, 2018
for the dissolution of a marriage, and for other relief,
brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of
Stamford-Norwalk, where the court, Hon. Michael E.
Shay, judge trial referee, granted the defendant's
motion to dismiss and rendered judgment thereon, from which
the plaintiff appealed to this court; thereafter, the court,
Hon. Michael E. Shay, judge trial referee, issued a
rectification of the record. Affirmed.
Brittany Bussola Paz, for the appellant (plaintiff).
Heather M. Brown-Olsen, for the appellee (defendant).
Alvord, Prescott and Flynn, Js.
plaintiff, Daelte St. Denis-Lima, appeals from the judgment
of the trial court, rendered following the court's
granting of the motion to dismiss that had been filed by the
defendant, Thomas J. St. Denis. The plaintiff claims that (1)
the court improperly denied her request for an evidentiary
hearing on the issue of subject matter jurisdiction, (2) the
court's finding of a final judgment of dissolution in the
country of Brazil was clearly erroneous, and, alternatively
(3) even if Brazil issued a final judgment of dissolution,
that judgment should not be recognized under the principle of
comity. We disagree with the plaintiffs claims and affirm the
judgment of the court.
following facts are relevant on appeal. The parties were
married on October 20, 2004, in Lenox, Massachusetts. They
are parents of two minor children. A previous action for
dissolution of marriage had been filed by the plaintiff in
the judicial district of Fairfield, which was dismissed by
the court on May 19, 2015, for want of subject matter
jurisdiction because both the plaintiff and the defendant had
testified that they were residents of Brazil; thus, neither
party then satisfied the residency requirement of General
Statutes § 46b-44 (a)sufficient to confer jurisdiction on the
Connecticut Superior Court. See St. Denis-Lima v. St.
Denis, Docket No. FA-14-4048088, 2015 LEXIS 1174 (Conn.
Super. May 19, 2015). The plaintiff commenced the operative
dissolution of marriage action on December 30, 2015, claiming
that "[o]ne of the parties to the marriage has been a
resident of the state of Connecticut for at least twelve
months next preceding the date of the filing of the complaint
or next [preceding] the date of the decree, or one of the
parties was domiciled in this state at the time of the
marriage and returned to [this] state with the intention of
permanently remaining before the filing of the
complaint." On February 16, 2016, the defendant filed a
motion to dismiss the plaintiff's dissolution action on
six grounds: (1) lack of subject matter jurisdiction; (2)
lack of personal jurisdiction; (3) improper venue; (4)
insufficiency of process; (5) insufficiency of service of
process; and (6) comity law precluding the action in
16, 2016, while the defendant's motion to dismiss was
pending in the present case, the marriage of the parties was
dissolved by a decree of divorce entered by a court of
competent jurisdiction in Brazil, as a prior dissolution
proceeding had been pending there since February, 2015. This
decree was registered in Brazil as a final decree on July 6,
2016. On April 10, 2017, the defendant in this case, Thomas
J. St. Denis, registered with the court a copy of that
same final decree from Brazil. The registered decree
contained a decision issued by a Brazilian court on May 16,
2016, which concludes with a decree that "the divorce of
the couple Thomas Joseph St. Denis and Daelte Lima St. Denis
so it reach its full legal effects." A status conference
was held before the court on March 6, 2017, in which the
plaintiff and her trial counsel, Attorney Allen A. Currier,
were present. At the status conference, the plaintiffs
counsel acknowledged that the defendant's counsel had
filed affidavits stating that the parties' marriage
already had been dissolved by a decree in Brazil. Despite not
filing a counter affidavit, the plaintiffs counsel,
nevertheless, represented to the court that the conclusions
in the affidavit were in dispute. Neither party requested an
evidentiary hearing at that time.
April 21, 2017, the court heard oral argument on the
defendant's motion to dismiss, but it declined the
plaintiffs request for an evidentiary hearing made on that
day, wherein the plaintiff intended to proffer an expert
witness, the plaintiffs lawyer in the Brazilian dissolution
proceedings, who would contest the validity of the documents
submitted by the defendant and claim that the parties already
were divorced in Brazil. The following colloquy occurred on
April 21, 2017, between the court and the plaintiffs counsel
regarding his request for an evidentiary hearing:
"The Court: ... I mean, this is obviously a late
disclosure of what would purport to be an expert witness.
"[The Plaintiffs Counsel]: Yes, Your Honor, I-I received
this document a week ago. And I knew I had to-I understood-I
reviewed it myself, I-I found serious problems with it. And
"The Court: Well, I don't know what you're
"[The Plaintiffs Counsel]: Well, that there isn't
really a final judgment in Brazil. And that-that two
different actions down in Brazil are being taken together.
There is no divorce decree, then-in Brazil .... And I can- I
can offer evidence of that with testimony from a lawyer in
Brazil that we brought up here who is the lawyer in that
case, part of the firm in that case. And ...