Finan v. Finan, 26463.

Decision Date03 April 2007
Docket NumberNo. 26463.,26463.
Citation100 Conn.App. 297,918 A.2d 910
CourtConnecticut Court of Appeals
PartiesMeredith FINAN v. John FINAN.

Sperry A. DeCew, for the appellee (defendant).



The plaintiff, Meredith Finan, appeals from the judgment of the trial court dissolving her marriage to the defendant, John Finan. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the court improperly (1) entered financial orders because it (a) failed to value the parties' interests with respect to the marital home as of the date of dissolution, (b) relied on the parties' proposed findings of fact, which contained several inaccuracies, (c) failed to require the defendant to provide a value for certain stock options, (d) refused to admit into evidence a report detailing the defendant's preseparation dissipation of marital assets, and (e) ordered time limited alimony that was inconsistent with the facts and inequitable; (2) ordered the parties to file a joint income tax return for the year prior to the dissolution; and (3) failed to consider security for the defendant's alimony obligation. We vacate the trial court's order with respect to the income tax return and affirm the judgment in all other respects.

The parties married on September 11, 1982, and, at the time of the trial, had three children, of which two were minors. The court rendered judgment dissolving the marriage on March 11, 2005. The court found that the marriage had broken down irretrievably without attributing fault to either party as to the cause of the breakdown.

The court entered orders regarding property distribution, alimony, child support and other miscellaneous matters. As part of the dissolution decree, the court ordered the defendant to pay to the plaintiff "unallocated alimony and child support in equal semimonthly installments on the first and fifteenth of each month, the annual sum of $95,000 based on his base salary of $225,000." This appeal followed. Additional facts will be set forth as necessary.


The plaintiff's first claim is comprised of five separate challenges to the financial orders entered by the court as well as the factual bases underlying those orders. We conclude that the court's financial orders were proper.

We review each of these claims under the same well settled standard of review. "An appellate court will not disturb a trial court's orders in domestic relations cases unless the court has abused its discretion or it is found that it could not reasonably conclude as it did, based on the facts presented. . . . In determining whether a trial court has abused its broad discretion in domestic relations matters, we allow every reasonable presumption in favor of the correctness of its action. . . . Appellate review of a trial court's findings of fact is governed by the clearly erroneous standard of review. The trial court's findings are binding upon this court unless they are clearly erroneous in light of the evidence and the pleadings in the record as a whole. . . . A finding of fact is clearly erroneous when there is no evidence in the record to support it . . . or when although there is evidence to support it, the reviewing court on the entire evidence is left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Demartino v. Demartino, 79 Conn.App. 488, 492, 830 A.2d 394 (2003).

"A fundamental principle in dissolution actions is that a trial court may exercise broad discretion in awarding alimony and dividing property as long as it considers all relevant statutory criteria. . . . In reviewing the trial court's decision under [an abuse of discretion] standard, we are cognizant that [t]he issues involving financial orders are entirely interwoven. The rendering of judgment in a complicated dissolution case is a carefully crafted mosaic, each element of which may be dependent on the other." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Kunajukr v. Kunajukr, 83 Conn.App. 478, 481, 850 A.2d 227, cert. denied, 271 Conn. 903, 859 A.2d 562 (2004).

We apply the abuse of discretion standard of review because it "reflects the sound policy that the trial court has the unique opportunity to view the parties and their testimony, and is therefore in the best position to assess all of the circumstances surrounding a dissolution action, including such factors as the demeanor and the attitude of the parties." Casey v. Casey, 82 Conn.App. 378, 383, 844 A.2d 250 (2004).


The plaintiff first claims that the court abused its discretion when it entered its order with respect to the parties' marital home. Specifically, the plaintiff claims that the court's order (1) fails to value the parties' respective interests at the time of dissolution, (2) requires the plaintiff to fund the defendant's investment and (3) creates a potential for future disputes. We are not persuaded.

The following additional facts are necessary for our resolution of the plaintiff's claim. In its memorandum of decision, the court entered the following order with respect to the parties' marital home. "The [plaintiff] shall have the sole right of occupancy in the marital residence located at Sparrow Lane, Greenwich . . . and she shall indemnify [the defendant] in connection with the expenses associated with the occupancy of said residence. The marital residence shall be placed on the market no later than ninety days from the date of graduation from college of the youngest child, but no later than March 1, 2012, whichever occurs first, unless the [plaintiff] agrees to sell said property at an earlier date. The defendant shall be entitled to 25 percent of the net equity once the marital residence is sold, after payment of all expenses related to such sale. If the [plaintiff] wishes to retain full ownership of said property on that date, she shall have the right to pay [the defendant] a sum equivalent to 25 percent of the net value at that time after calculating all expenses due on the property, including the expenses of selling said property. If the [plaintiff] does not wish to retain said property, she shall give [the defendant] the right of first refusal to purchase her interest at 75 percent of any agreed net price or based on the appraised value of said property."

The plaintiff essentially makes a wholesale attack on the court's order with respect to its disposition of the marital home and posits several scenarios in which the court's order would seemingly frustrate the parties. We do not find those scenarios persuasive. With respect to her first two arguments, which are that the court failed to value the parties' respective interests at the time of dissolution and that its order requires the plaintiff to fund the defendant's investment, the plaintiff is essentially arguing that any capital improvements made to the home and mortgage payments made by the plaintiff would not be accounted for in a future sale. In support of this argument, the plaintiff suggests that our holding in Osakowicz v. Osakowicz, 57 Conn.App. 807, 810, 750 A.2d 1135 (2000), is dispositive of this claim and requires reversal of the court's order with respect to the marital home.

In Osakowicz, the trial court set a fixed sales price, $180,000, for the marital home that was based on the stipulated agreement of the parties. Pursuant to the court's order, if the plaintiff chose to sell the property, the defendant had the right to purchase it for the stipulated amount. If the property was not sold by the time the youngest child reached maturity, the defendant could then purchase the home for the same stipulated price. Id., at 811, 750 A.2d 1135. We remanded the case to the trial court to refigure this calculation on the basis of its failure to account for normal market fluctuations. Id., at 811-12, 750 A.2d 1135.

In the present case, the court did not order a fixed price for the sale of the home but rather used a percentage of the home's value at the time of any future sale. That distinction eliminates any inequity arising from future improvements or mortgage payments made to the property.1 "The purpose of a property division pursuant to a dissolution proceeding is to unscramble existing marital property in order to give each spouse his or her equitable share at the time of dissolution." Smith v. Smith, 249 Conn. 265, 275, 752 A.2d 1023 (1999). In its memorandum of decision, the court meticulously detailed the parties' financial situation, valued the home at $597,979.93 and took note of the plaintiff's down payment of $210,000. On the basis of the record, we conclude that the court properly valued the parties' respective interests in the marital home at the time of dissolution and that its order provided an equitable division of the marital home. As to the plaintiff's assertion that the court's order will cause future disputes between the parties, we merely note that unfortunately, some level of discord naturally flows from most marital dissolutions. Accordingly, we conclude that the court did not abuse its discretion with respect to its order relating to the marital home.


The plaintiff next claims that the court improperly relied on the parties' proposed findings of fact, which contained several inaccuracies. Specifically, the plaintiff argues that there are twenty-six instances in which the court improperly relied on the defendant's proposed findings of fact, three instances in which it relied on the plaintiff's proposed findings of fact and one instance in which the court relied on the plaintiff's proposed orders.

There can be no doubt that verbatim adoption, from another source, of the fact section "invites error or sloppy analysis on the judge's part. More importantly, the appearance of justice is just as important as the reality, and a verbatim adoption of the facts [proffered] by one...

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13 cases
  • Finan v. Finan
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • July 1, 2008
    ...John Finan, to pay her unallocated alimony and child support of $95,000 annually based on his salary of $225,000. Finan v. Finan, 100 Conn.App. 297, 299, 918 A.2d 910 (2007). The plaintiff claims that the Appellate Court improperly concluded that the record was inadequate for review of her ......
  • Maturo v. Maturo
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • May 4, 2010
    ...considered income only if the stock price increased above the option value during the succeeding four years. See Finan v. Finan, 100 Conn.App. 297, 307 n. 4, 918 A.2d 910 (2007) (when market value of stock sinks below exercise price of option, option has no value or is "under water" interna......
  • Watrous v. Watrous
    • United States
    • Connecticut Court of Appeals
    • July 1, 2008
    ... ... , each element of which may be dependent on the other." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Finan v. Finan, 100 Conn.App. 297, 300, 918 A.2d 910, cert. granted on other grounds, 282 Conn. 926, 926 ... ...
  • Renstrup v. Renstrup
    • United States
    • Connecticut Court of Appeals
    • January 17, 2023
    ...itself.In addition, this court has affirmed the use of supplemental alimony orders based on future earnings. See Finan v. Finan , 100 Conn. App. 297, 306, 918 A.2d 910 (2007), rev'd on other grounds, 287 Conn. 491, 949 A.2d 468 (2008) ; Burns v. Burns , 41 Conn. App. 716, 727–28, 677 A.2d 9......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • 2007 Developments in Connecticut Family Law
    • United States
    • Connecticut Bar Association Connecticut Bar Journal No. 82, 2008
    • Invalid date
    ...(1995). Krafick remains the leading case on several property issues. 16. 102 Conn. App. 332 (2007). 17. 101 Conn. App. 106 (2007). 18. 100 Conn. App. 297, cert. granted in part, 282 Conn. 926 (2007). 19. Farrell-Williams v. Williams, 99 Conn. App. 453 (2007) (affirming an order to refinance......

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