Officially released April 21, 2020.
In Short: Where stock option proceeds were disclosed under the assets section of a financial affidavit as well as in tax documents, albeit not under the income section of the affidavit, the trial court’s denial of a motion to open on the basis of fraudulent non-disclosure was not abuse of discretion.
The parties were divorced in 2012 pursuant to a separation agreement that retained jurisdiction over the issue of post-secondary education.
Defendant filed a post-judgment motion to modify the educational support order, seeking to establish responsibility for their daughter’s postsecondary education. The trial court admitted financial documentation and affidavits from both parties and heard argument regarding the same. Thereafter the court made findings regarding each party’s finances and entered orders dividing allowable post-secondary education costs 45 percent to Plaintiff and 55 percent to Defendant.
Plaintiff filed a motion to open on the basis of fraudulent nondisclosure. She alleged that Defendant fraudulently misled the court by including $100,429 from the proceeds of sale of stock options under assets but not under income in his financial affidavit. Plaintiff’s expert witness testified in support of this claim. The trial court denied the motion to open, noting that the proceeds were disclosed in Defendant’s financial affidavit, as well as his form 1040 and form W-2. Plaintiff appealed.
The Appellate Court summarized Plaintiff’s arguments into three categories: (1) the trial court failed to determine whether Plaintiff met her burden of proof to establish the existence of probable cause, (2) the trial court abused its discretion in denying the motion, (3) the trial court failed to understand the implications of its factual determinations and holdings.
The Appellate Court held that it was implied in the trial court’s detailed findings that Plaintiff had failed to carry her burden of proof. The trial court detailed that Plaintiff had received the information that she claimed was not disclosed prior to the hearing.
The Appellate Court found no abuse of discretion in denial of Plaintiff’s motion to open, noting that the evidence supported the finding that Defendant had disclosed the proceeds of which Plaintiff claimed non-disclosure.
The Judgment was affirmed.