Officially released October 31, 2017.
The Trial Court entered an unallocated order of alimony and child support at the dissolution. Subsequently, the alimony portion terminated per the original order. Defendant Father subsequently filed a motion for order to establish a child support order upon termination of the unallocated order.
A full post-judgment hearing was held. The combined net weekly income of the parties was found to be approximately $6,000. In its decision, the Trial Court stated: “it had considered all the evidence…” The Trial Court ordered that Defendant Father pay $288 per week for child support which was the maximum amount on the Child Support Guidelines chart — $288 representing the Defendant Father’s percentage of the highest amount on the chart. Defendant Father also received supplemental income. No supplemental order was entered regarding any portion of Defendant Father’s bonus.
The Trial Court did not extend beyond the Child Support Guidelines chart to take into account any income of the parties beyond the $4,000 maximum the chart. The Trial Court also did not enter a supplemental order regarding any percentage of the Defendant Father’s bonuses as additional child support. Plaintiff Mother filed a motion for reargument which was heard by the Trial Court but the decision remained in effect.
The Appellate Court included the typical language regarding the standard of review. Unless the Trial Court has abused its discretion or it is found that the Court could not reasonably conclude as it did, based on the facts presented, the Trial Court’s decision will stand. Defendant Father sought to argue that the record was inadequate for review due to Plaintiff Mother’s failure to comply with portions of the practice book. The Appellate Court considered the argument, found some deficiencies in the appeal presentation, but found there was a sufficient record for appeal and extended some flexibility to Plaintiff Mother.
Plaintiff Mother’s first claim was that the Trial Court did not make a finding regarding Defendant Father’s net income. The Appellate Court indicated “the Trial Court is not required to make an explicit finding of net income, and not required to make specific reference to the criteria it considered”. As long as the Trial Court stated it had “taken all of the evidence into account…” this was enough where the Trial Court had referenced the guideline worksheet’s indication of net incomes.
Plaintiff Mother’s second claim is that the Trial Court relied on an unsworn Child Support Guidelines Worksheet prepared by the Family Relations Officer to make findings as regarding the parties’ gross and net incomes which were contrary to the evidence. Plaintiff Mother further claimed that the Trial Court should not have considered the worksheet without first admitting it into evidence. The Appellate Court determined that Plaintiff Mother had failed to make such an objection prior to the appeal and declined to review the claim.
Plaintiff Mother’s third claim was that the Trial Court was required to make supplemental order because the Defendant Father earned bonuses. The Appellate Court indicated that there is no such requirement and using the presumptive maximum amount from the guidelines was legally proper. The Appellate Court reiterated the standard from the line of cases including Maturo v. Maturo, 296 Conn 80 (2010), Misthopoulos v. Misthopoulos, 297 Conn. 358 (2010) and Dowling v. Szymszak, 309 Conn. 190 (2013) for the floor and ceiling on support where the incomes exceed the guidelines as well as application of deviation criteria.
Because the Court ordered the maximum based on the combined net incomes at the maximum of the Child Support Guidelines chart of $4,000, there was no obligation for the Court to make any further order. The Appellate Court found that there was no requirement of the Trial Court to extend the Child Support Guidelines percentages or the amount of net disposable income that it is considering.
The Appellate Court found that Plaintiff Mother had failed to carry her burden to prove that the presumptive floor would be inappropriate or inequitable or to justify a higher amount. The lesson here is that Plaintiff Mother focused on Defendant Father’s income at the expense of presenting evidence on the need of the child.
Plaintiff Mother’s final claim was that the Trial Court erred in denying relief on her motion to reargue. The Appellate Court opined that motions to reargue are: (1) not intended for a second bite, (2) not a time for additional cases or briefs to be entered, (3) during reargument the Court should only consider evidence that could not have been discovered earlier, (4) a motion to reargue is not to be used because the self-represented party did not present her case “clearly.” Plaintiff Mother’s efforts at reargument were to make legal arguments that certain facts about Defendant Father’s income were not presented clearly at the hearing. The Appellate Court determined that this was “an improper use of a motion to reargue” and the Trial Court did not abuse its discretion.