May 16, 2019
for the dissolution of a marriage, and for other relief,
brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of
Hartford, where the court, Carbonneau, J.,
rendered judgment dissolving the marriage and granting
certain other relief in accordance with the parties'
separation agreement; thereafter, the family support
magistrate, Michael L. Ferguson, approved a certain
stipulation of the parties; subsequently, the family support
magistrate, Jed N. Schulman, issued a certain order
related to a motion for modification of child support filed
by the plaintiff; thereafter, the plaintiff appealed to the
court, Hon. Gerard I. Adelman, judge trial referee;
judgment affirming in part the order of the family support
magistrate and remanding the matter for further proceedings,
from which the plaintiff appealed to this court.
Reversed; judgment directed.
Bistor, for the appellant (plaintiff).
Jule´ A. Crawford, for the appellee (defendant).
DiPentima, C. J., and Elgo and Sullivan, Js.
DiPENTIMA, C. J.
plaintiff, Daniel Shear, appeals from the judgment rendered
by the Superior Court affirming in part an order of a family
support magistrateregarding his postdissolution motion for
modification and remanding the case for further proceedings.
On appeal, the plaintiff claims that (1) the Superior Court
applied an improper standard of review in the appeal from the
family support magistrate's order and (2) the family
support magistrate improperly failed to credit and refund
money to the plaintiff for lump sum and monthly social
security disability benefits paid to the defendant, Yupaporn
Shear,  in excess of the postdisso-lution
financial orders. We conclude that the plaintiff's appeal
from the order of the family support magistrate was not taken
from a final judgment. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment
and remand the case to the Superior Court with direction to
dismiss the plaintiff's appeal.
detailed review of the facts and procedural history is
necessary for our resolution of this appeal. On October 6,
2011, the plaintiff commenced the present action, seeking a
dissolution of the parties' marriage and sole custody of
their minor child. On November 29, 2012, the court,
Carbonneau, J., rendered a judgment dissolving the
marriage. The court incorporated the terms of the
parties' written separation agreement into the judgment.
That agreement provided that the parties would have joint
custody of the minor child, with her primary residence with
the defendant. The plaintiff agreed to pay $71 per week in
child support and $4 per week toward an existing arrearage.
The parties also agreed to share the work-related day care
costs, with the plaintiff paying 42 percent and the defendant
paying 58 percent. Neither party was to receive alimony.
December 27, 2016, the defendant filed a motion for
modification and sought to reduce his child support and day
care obligations. He alleged that a disability determination
by the Social Security Administration constituted a
substantial change in circumstances. He also claimed that the
orders pertaining to his child support and day care
obligations substantially exceeded the
‘‘guidelines amount'' based on his
present income and earning capacity.
January 5, 2017, the defendant was served with the
plaintiff's motion for modification. On January 18,
2017, two days before the scheduled hearing on the
plaintiff's motion, the defendant's counsel filed a
motion for a continuance until February 3, 2017. The
plaintiff's counsel did not consent and filed an
January 20, 2017, the parties executed a stipulation that
provided: (1) the defendant's counsel was unable to
appear in court due to a previously scheduled matter; (2)
support enforcement services received $307.70 on January 3,
2017, from an income withholding lodged with the Social
Security Administration, which resulted in a deduction from
the plaintiff's January, 2017 disability payment; (3) the
plaintiff had received notice that the Social Security
Administration deducted $4982.20 from his benefits to pay his
child support and that this ‘‘substantially
exceeds'' the $3054.52 arrearage owed to the
plaintiff and the state; (4) the minor child was entitled to
a monthly dependent benefit and a retroactive lump sum
dependent benefit from the Social Security Administration and
the amount of these benefits would not be known until the
defendant completed, and the Social Security Administration
processed, an application; and (5) the parties wanted to
protect their respective positions and to prevent overpayment
of child support and the arrearage until a hearing was held
on the plaintiff's motion for modification. The parties,
therefore, agreed (1) to continue the hearing on the motion
for modification until February 3, 2017, and (2) that support
enforcement services would suspend the disbursement of any
income withholdings received from the Social Security
Administration until that date. The family support
magistrate, Michael L. Ferguson, approved the
stipulation, which had been filed in court by the
March 9, 2017,  the family support magistrate, Jed N.
Schulman, held a hearing on the plaintiff's motion
for modification. At the outset, the parties stipulated that
the plaintiff had been determined by the Social Security
Administration to be disabled effective June 1, 2014, and
that his disability payment was $878 per month or $203 per
week. They also agreed that the minor child's benefit was
$171 per month or $40.38 per week. After further discussion,
Magistrate Schulman accepted the stipulations.
Magistrate Schulman addressed the issue of whether the amount
paid to the defendant from the social security lump sum
disbursement exceeded the amount owed by the plaintiff. He
then stated: ‘‘So, I'd have to look at
certain things between June 1, 2014, [the date of the
plaintiff's disability determination] and January 5, 2017
[the date the defendant was served with the motion for
modification]. And I do want to make it clear to counsel that
the case law is clear that the retro[active]-if you want to
call it retro[active]-that the lump sum payment by [the]
Social Security [Administration] for the benefit of the child
is a gratuity essentially, and if it's-it's provided
for so you don't get credit for that and you don't
get reimbursement on that.'' The defendant's
counsel agreed with Magistrate Schulman; the plaintiff's
counsel, however, did not. Specifically, the plaintiff's
counsel argued that if the plaintiff had received disability
payments starting on June 1, 2014, he would have been
entitled to a credit for the entire amount of the lump sum
paid on behalf of the minor child by the Social ...