Officially released November 19, 2019.
In Short: The requirement that an appeal may only be taken from a final judgment, and the exceptions thereto, apply to appeals taken to the Superior Court from the Family Support Magistrate (“The Magistrate”).
The Background Facts: Post-Judgment, Father qualified for Social Security Disability Benefits (“SSDI”) and Support Enforcement Services (“SES”) received an amount of those benefits in lump sum that exceeded Father’s arrearage. While post-judgment motions for modification were pending, the parties entered into a Stipulation regarding those monies that included a provision that SES would not disburse the funds prior to a hearing. Those funds were disbursed by SES prior to the hearing, despite the agreement to the contrary having been made an order.
After the hearing, The Magistrate issued orders reducing Father’s child support obligation to zero after accounting for dependency benefits paid to Mother as representative payee on behalf of the child, but holding that the lump sum exceeding the arrearage and other excess funds paid by SSDI were a gratuity and not refundable to Father.
Father appealed to the Superior Court arguing that a refund was due on the overpayment and that the disbursement was contrary to the stipulation. The Superior Court found no abuse of discretion but held that the issues pertaining to the Stipulation had not been addressed and needed to be addressed as they had been made an order. The Superior Court remanded the matter to the Magistrate for a determination regarding the refund issue pertaining to the Stipulation.
Father appealed arguing that the superior court applied an improper standard of review in an appeal from the family support magistrate and that the family support magistrate failed to credit and refund money to Father for lump sum and monthly SSDI paid to Mother in excess of the post-judgment financial orders.
While the appeal was pending further litigation took place on the underlying issues.
The Appellate Court held that this appeal from the Magistrate to the Superior Court was not taken from a final judgment and reversed and remanded with direction to dismiss that appeal. Lack of a final judgment deprived the Superior Court of subject matter jurisdiction to hear the appeal. “An otherwise interlocutory order is appealable in two circumstances: (1) where the order or action terminates a separate and distinct proceeding, or (2) where the order or action so concludes the rights of the parties that further proceedings cannot affect them.” State v. Curcio, 191 Conn. 27, 31, 463 A.2d 566 (1983).