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Almeida v. Almeida

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

June 25, 2019

CRISTIANE M. ALMEIDA
v.
RENATO ALMEIDA

          Argued March 5, 2019

         Procedural History

         Action for the dissolution of a marriage, and for other relief, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Hartford and tried to the court, Ficeto, J.; judgment dissolving the marriage and granting certain other relief; thereafter, the court granted the plaintiff's motion for clarification and issued a clarification of the dissolution judgment, and the defendant appealed to this court. Reversed; judgment directed.

          David R. Peck, with whom, on the brief, was Brittany Wallace, for the appellant (defendant).

          Giovanna Shay, with whom, on the brief, were Ramona Mercado-Espinoza and Enelsa Diaz, for the appellee (plaintiff).

          Keller, Elgo and Bishop, Js.

          OPINION

          ELGO, J.

         In this postdissolution matter, the defendant, Renato Almeida, appeals from the judgment of the trial court granting the motion for clarification filed by the plaintiff, Cristiane M. Almeida. On appeal, the defendant claims that the court improperly modified the dissolution judgment when it rendered its clarification.[1]We agree and, therefore, reverse the judgment of the trial court.

         The following facts and procedural history are relevant to this appeal. The parties' marriage was dissolved on October 16, 2015. In its memorandum of decision, the court, Ficeto, J., found, inter alia, that "[t]he defendant acquired four properties during the course of the marriage. The property at 409 Sigourney Street, Hartford [property], is where the parties made their home and the defendant currently resides. It is a three family home; the defendant resides in one unit and rents two. [The defendant] listed the value of [the property] at $144, 000 on his financial affidavit. He alleges [that] he is only a 50 percent owner of [the property] and that his business partner owns 50 percent through a business entity known as Talyah Home Improvement, LLC. . . . All properties were purchased with cash. Counsel for the plaintiff inquired how the defendant was able to acquire the . . . properties with no loans or mortgages. [The defendant] testified that a sister brought him $100, 000 from Brazil and that he used it as seed money for 'flipping' houses. He alleges [that] the money was his and that he had saved it in Brazil. He was unable to provide documentation relative to the $100, 000. The defendant testified relative to his business entity, Talyah Home Improvement, LLC. There was no evidence introduced relative to either the limited liability [company] or its members. [The defendant] vaguely testified about his partner, who has been in Brazil for the past year. [The defendant] alleges that he deals with his partner's 'people.' A review of the defendant's tax returns for the years 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2014 show[s] no schedules related to income from a business entity known as Talyah Home Improvement, LLC.[2] . . . The court does not find credible [the defendant's] recitation relative to his financial affairs." (Footnote in original.)

         As part of its judgment of dissolution, the court ordered, inter alia, that "[t]he defendant shall forthwith vacate and quitclaim to the plaintiff all interest in [the property]. [The] [p]laintiff shall thereafter be responsible for all expenses relating to said [property], including, but not limited to, real estate taxes, insurance, and utilities, and shall indemnify and hold the defendant harmless in regard to the same."

         Subsequently, on December 4, 2015, the defendant signed a quitclaim deed, assigning his rights and interest in the property to the plaintiff.[3] On February 2, 2016, the parties entered into an agreement, which provided, in relevant part, that the "[p]laintiff will execute a substitution of agent and interim change of member for Talyah Home Improvement, LLC, and [the] defendant will file said documents and pay the associated filing fees to the Connecticut Secretary of State. This will allow [the] plaintiff to lawfully collect rents at [the property] going forward."

         On September 21, 2017, the plaintiff filed a motion for contempt in which she claimed: "1. On October 16, 2015, the court ordered the defendant to vacate and quitclaim to the plaintiff all interest in [the property]. 2. On December 4, 2015, the defendant quitclaimed to the plaintiff [the property]; however, it has come to the plaintiffs attention that there was another person on the deed of the property. 3. The plaintiff is now being sued by Domingos, Joelson, in care of Salatiel De Matos through a power of attorney. ... 4. During the divorce proceedings, the defendant never stated that he was only [one-half] owner of the aforementioned property. 5. As a result, the plaintiff may have to sell the aforementioned property and [lose one half] of the equity in the home. 6. The defendant is in violation and in contempt of the court orders."

         On December 4, 2017, the plaintiff filed a postjudg-ment motion for clarification, in which she argued that "[clarification of the [dissolution] judgment [was] necessary to determine if the court intended for the defendant to make whatever arrangements were necessary with his business partner in Brazil to transfer 'all interest' in the [property] to the plaintiff, or if it was the court's intention to award the plaintiff with a 50 percent interest in the property and/or [the limited liability company]."

         On December 5, 2017, the court, Nastri, J., entered an order, which provided that: "1. Upon agreement of the parties, [the] plaintiff will withdraw the motion for contempt . . . and pursue the more appropriate motion for clarification filed [on] December 4, 2017. 2. The plaintiffs new motion will be calendared at a later date. It will be appropriate for Judge Ficeto to hear the ...


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