Grinold v. Grinold

Citation374 A.2d 172,172 Conn. 192
CourtSupreme Court of Connecticut
Decision Date28 December 1976
PartiesJoan Barrett Pittsinger GRINOLD v. Raymond Wade GRINOLD.

Jerome M. Griner, Hartford, for appellant (plaintiff).

Joseph N. Perelmutter, Seymour, with whom, on the brief, was John P. Santucci, Hartford, for appellee (defendant).


BARBER, Associate Justice.

This is an appeal from a decision granting the defendant husband's motion to modify or terminate alimony. The court ordered that the alimony should be reduced to the rate of $50 per week and that all alimony should terminate by the end of three years, upon the parties' youngest child reaching the age of twenty-one years. The plaintiff wife has appealed to this court.

By judgment rendered January 20, 1967, the plaintiff, after almost sixteen years of marriage, was granted a divorce, child custody and child support, $25,000 lump sum alimony and $90 per week periodic alimony. At the time of the divorce hearing, both parties were unemployed but both parties anticipated that they would obtain employment. On September 22, 1975, the defendant filed his motion to modify or terminate the alimony payments on the ground that there had been "a substantial change in financial circumstances for the parties." The court specifically found that the parties' financial affidavits did not show a substantial change in the economic circumstances of either party, but, nevertheless, ordered the alimony reduced and then terminated because it concluded that the plaintiff wife was "substantially rehabilitated from any adverse socio-economic consequence of her marriage" to the extent that such "rehabilitation" constituted the "substantial change in circumstances" required by § 46-54 of the General Statutes before a court can modify an alimony order. 1

On appeal, the plaintiff claims that (1) the defendant was estopped from seeking a modification by a provision in the parties' separation agreement; (2) the defendant failed to establish by the evidence a "substantial change in circumstances"; (3) the trial court abused its discretion in granting the defendant's motion; and (4) § 46-54 of the General Statutes has not changed the law of modification of alimony orders.

In determining whether the trial court abused its discretion "the ultimate issue is whether the court could reasonably conclude as it did." Aguire v. Aguire, 171 Conn. 312, 314, 370 A.2d 948; Pasquariello v. Pasquariello, 168 Conn. 579, 584, 362 A.2d 835. This court has stated that "trial courts have a distinct advantage over an appellate court in dealing with domestic relations, where all of the surrounding circumstances and the appearance and attitude of the parties are so significant." LaBella v. LaBella, 134 Conn. 312, 318, 57 A.2d 627, 629. Nevertheless, the court's conclusions must be tested by the finding, which must establish a reasonable basis for these conclusions. Hutensky v. Avon, 163 Conn. 433, 437, 311 A.2d 92; Cecio Bros., Inc. v. Feldmann, 161 Conn. 265, 271, 287 A.2d 374; England v. England, 138 Conn. 410, 414, 85 A.2d 483. Connecticut unequivocally follows the widely established rule that no modification of alimony or support is to be granted unless there has been a showing of a substantial change in the circumstances of either party. General Statutes § 46-54; Viglione v. Viglione, 171 Conn. 213, 215, 368 A.2d 202; see Clark, Domestic Relations § 14.9. In addition, the changed circumstances requiring a modification must not have been contemplated by the parties at the time of the entry of the decree, must be substantial and must have arisen subsequent to entry of the original decree. 2A Nelson, Divorce & Annulment (2d Ed.) § 17.07. The trial court in the present case concluded that there had occurred such a substantially changed circumstance in that the plaintiff wife was "rehabilitated" from any "adverse socio-economic consequence" of her marriage. This novel and elusive concept is not to be found in either the statutory provision concerning modification or the one establishing standards for granting alimony orders; General Statutes §§ 46-54, 46-52; 2 nor has this court previously resorted to it. Such a vague, conclusory standard for modification cannot take the place of the established requirement that there be a clear and definite showing of individual facts and circumstances which have substantially changed. See 2A Nelson, Divorce & Annulment §§ 17.07-17.09. No findings of the court in this case relate to and support the conclusions regarding so-called rehabilitation from any adverse "socio-economic" consequences of the plaintiff's marriage. Section 46-54 clearly requires a change in circumstances, yet the court specifically finds that there has been no showing of changed economic...

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56 cases
  • Cersosimo v. Cersosimo
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • 14 Septiembre 1982
    ...378 A.2d 522 (1977); see General Statutes § 46b-86(a); Bunche v. Bunche, 180 Conn. 285, 290, 429 A.2d 874 (1980); Grinold v. Grinold, 172 Conn. 192, 195, 374 A.2d 172 (1976)." Noce v. Noce, 181 Conn. 145, 147-48, 434 A.2d 345 (1980). Where, however, there has been any modification granted s......
  • Zildjian v. Zildjian
    • United States
    • Appeals Court of Massachusetts
    • 29 Junio 1979
    ...may on marriage have discontinued a career, sufficient funds merely to resume such an independent career. But see Grinold v. Grinold, 172 Conn. 192, 195, 374 A.2d 172 (1976). In the case before us, it is difficult to see how a consideration of all the factors, as required by the new alimony......
  • Darak v. Darak
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • 21 Marzo 1989
    ...of General Statutes § 46b-86(a), prior to its 1987 amendment, 3 no such modification would have been allowable. Grinold v. Grinold, 172 Conn. 192, 195, 374 A.2d 172 (1976). As amended by the new act, however, § 46b-86(a) now permits a modification without regard to prior contemplation of fi......
  • Hardisty v. Hardisty
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • 3 Marzo 1981
    ...Koizim v. Koizim, supra, --- Conn. at ---, 435 A.2d 1030; Fucci v. Fucci, 179 Conn. 174, 181, 425 A.2d 592 (1979); Grinold v. Grinold, supra, 172 Conn. 194, 374 A.2d 172. Applying this test to the present appeal, we find no error in the trial court's modification of the award of alimony fro......
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1 books & journal articles
  • Survey of 1990 Developments in Connecticut Family Law
    • United States
    • Connecticut Bar Association Connecticut Bar Journal No. 65, January 1990
    • Invalid date
    ...the substantial change in circumstances not have been contemplated at the time of the prior decree was created in Grinold v. Grinold, 172 Conn. 192, 374 A.2d 172 (1976). In 1987, the abolished that requirement. 1987, P. A. 87-104. In 1989, the Supreme Court held that Public Act 87-104 not b......

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