Officially released June 4, 2019.
In Short: If a trial judge makes no factual findings whatsoever, the judge then retires, and you seek articulation and seek review of the denial of articulation, the decision will be overturned despite the lack of record for review.
The Facts: This dissolution action was tried over three days in 2016. The trial court issued a four-page memorandum of decision dissolving the marriage finding only the following facts: the location and date of marriage, the parties had two minor children, and that Plaintiff had lived in Connecticut for at least a year. No findings were made regarding the financial circumstances of the parties, rationale for division, cause for breakdown or other issues. No completed child support guidelines were made a part of the court file. Various financial orders were made. The trial judge then retired.
Defendant filed a motion requesting articulation as to the factual bases for the orders. The trial court (a different judge) denied the motion without hearing. Defendant sought review of the denial of articulation. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 51-183g provides authority to allow a retired judge to enter an articulation, nevertheless, the motion for review was denied.
The Appellate Court Held that it was impossible to ascertain what path the trial court followed in crafting its orders without engaging in pure speculation. Since Defendant did avail himself of procedures to obtain review of the financial orders, the Appellate Court concluded that under these unusual circumstances, “it would be against the interests of justice to apply mechanistically a presumption of correctness to the court’s support orders because to do so would effectively, and unfairly, result in forfeiture of the defendant’s statutory appellate rights.” The deferential standard is not without limits. The trial court has an obligation to set forth the factual bases for its orders under Practice Book § 64-1.
The Judgment was reversed with respect to financial issues and remanded for a new trial.