Leonova v. Leonov, AC 42539

CourtAppellate Court of Connecticut
Citation201 Conn.App. 285,242 A.3d 713
Docket NumberAC 42539
Parties Alina LEONOVA v. Stanislav LEONOV
Decision Date17 November 2020

201 Conn.App. 285
242 A.3d 713

Stanislav LEONOV

AC 42539

Appellate Court of Connecticut.

Argued June 15, 2020
officially released November 17, 2020

242 A.3d 718

Campbell D. Barrett, with whom were Johanna S. Katz, and, on the brief, Jon T. Kukucka, Hartford, for the appellant (defendant).

Charles D. Ray, with whom, on the brief, was Angela M. Healey, Hartford, for the appellee (plaintiff).

Keller, Prescott and Devlin, Js.



201 Conn.App. 287

The defendant, Stanislav Leonov, appeals from the judgment of the trial court, dissolving his marriage to the plaintiff, Alina Leonova, which included a finding of contempt against the defendant, and from two postjudgment orders awarding the plaintiff attorney's fees incurred in connection with postdissolution proceedings and her defense of this appeal. On appeal, the defendant claims that the trial court (1) abused its discretion by improperly basing supplemental alimony awarded to the plaintiff on the defendant's gross, rather than net, bonus income, (2) acted in excess of its statutory authority when it ordered the parties to establish and to contribute to education savings plans established pursuant to 26 U.S.C. § 529 ( § 529 plans) for the benefit of each of the two minor children, (3) acted in excess of its statutory authority when it found the defendant in contempt for an alleged violation of the automatic orders set forth in Practice Book § 25-5, despite the fact

201 Conn.App. 288

that there was no contempt motion pending, (4) abused its discretion when it found the defendant in contempt for two violations of the automatic orders where the defendant's financial expenditures fell within the "usual course of business" exception to the rule, (5) abused its discretion by failing to attribute an earning capacity to the plaintiff in determining alimony and child support, and (6) in violation of the directive of General Statutes § 46b-62 (a) and relevant decisional law, improperly awarded the plaintiff attorney's fees for representation during the marital dissolution proceedings, postjudgment matters and this appeal.1 We

242 A.3d 719

agree with the defendant's third claim only. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of dissolution only with respect to one of the contempt findings, and remand the case to the trial court with direction to vacate its finding that the defendant was in contempt with respect to one of the violations of the automatic orders alleged by the plaintiff. We affirm the judgment and postjudgment orders of the court in all other respects.

The plaintiff brought the underlying dissolution action against the defendant in 2017. A contested trial took place in December, 2019, during which both parties were represented by counsel. The following undisputed facts, or facts as found by the trial court, and additional procedural history are relevant to this appeal. The plaintiff and the defendant were married in New York, New York on March 10, 2006. Both parties emigrated as children from regions of the former Soviet Union, the defendant from Ukraine and the plaintiff from Azerbaijan. Each is a naturalized citizen and is fluent in English. There are two minor children issue of the marriage who, at

201 Conn.App. 289

the time of the judgment of dissolution, were ages four and three. From the time that the parties separated in March, 2017, until the time of the dissolution, the plaintiff resided in a condominium owned by the parties at 25 West Elm Street in Greenwich (Greenwich condominium). The children resided primarily with the plaintiff.2 The defendant resided in an apartment in White Plains, New York.

The defendant, at the time of the dissolution, was thirty-nine years old and in good health. He has a degree in computer science and has worked steadily throughout the marriage. For the six years of marriage preceding the divorce, he had been employed by Viking Global Investors in Greenwich as a team leader in quantitative development. He earned an annual base salary of $400,000 and also regularly received an additional annual discretionary bonus. In 2017, he received a gross bonus of $508,500 and was expecting to receive a gross bonus of $550,000 for 2018.3

The plaintiff, at the time of the dissolution, was thirty-five years old and in general good health, but has vision problems and a serious hearing deficit, which would require further surgery to partially restore her hearing. She had earned a master's degree in business administration from Fordham University while working full-time earlier in the marriage, but had not been fully

201 Conn.App. 290

employed outside of the home since 2012. She considered herself a full-time homemaker, although she sporadically earned money during the marriage. In one instance she performed some part-time bookkeeping, earning between $4000 and $5000, and in another instance she earned several hundred dollars related to her photography hobby.

242 A.3d 720

The principal assets of the parties included two properties in Connecticut and a cooperative apartment in Brooklyn, New York (Brooklyn co-op). The parties stipulated that one of the Connecticut properties, the jointly owned Greenwich condominium occupied by the plaintiff, had a fair market value of $580,000. There was a mortgage on that property in the amount of approximately $416,000. The parties also owned a larger home at 215 Riverside Avenue in Greenwich (Riverside house), which they had purchased during the marriage and renovated. On each of their financial affidavits, the parties indicated that the Riverside house had a fair market value of $2.5 million with an outstanding mortgage of approximately $1,467,000. At trial, the defendant complained that the plaintiff spent far too much money on the renovations.4 The plaintiff testified that if she had known that the family was not going to occupy the Riverside house when the renovations were complete, she never would have spent so much.5 To complete the renovations, the plaintiff had borrowed $50,000 from her mother, and both parties acknowledged that the

201 Conn.App. 291

$60,000 that the plaintiff's mother had gifted to the parties’ children, $30,000 to each child at the time of the child's birth, also was spent for that purpose. The parties also jointly owned the Brooklyn co-op, which was under a contract for sale for $290,000. There was approximately $195,000 of equity in that property.

Other marital assets included several retirement accounts, three belonging to the defendant and one belonging to the plaintiff. The unspent balance of the defendant's 2017 net bonus, approximately $63,000, was being held in escrow in one of the checking accounts pursuant to a court order.6

The plaintiff also held an interest in an apartment and an apple orchard in Azerbaijan, which she estimated had a combined value of $50,200. The defendant claimed no interest in either. Both parties, as of the time of the dissolution, had accumulated a substantial amount of credit card debt, as well as debts to family and friends.

242 A.3d 721

The court, in its factual conclusions, was more critical of the defendant than of the plaintiff, noting, as follows: "During the pendency of the case, [the defendant] received an annual bonus for 2017, most of which he spent, much of it on credit card debt. As a result, the court entered pendente lite orders, among other things,

201 Conn.App. 292

freezing the unspent balance as well as other orders. Moreover, since the separation, his spending has been uncharacteristically lavish for, among other things, meals and travel. ... The [plaintiff] told the court that the pattern throughout the marriage was to ‘save and invest,’ adding that ‘this is not my husband.’ The [defendant] did not dispute the marital saving and spending patterns. By way of contrast, in 2018 he only paid the [plaintiff] $12,500 for support for the first half of the year and nothing since. However, since the filing of the complaint, among other things, without consulting the [plaintiff] or seeking her permission, he made a large, and losing, investment in some alternative currencies (so-called ‘cryptocurrencies’), like Bitcoin. In January, 2018, he invested $39,000 in these currencies and later sold them for a $22,000 loss. While the [defendant] has maintained an investment account, it was clear from his testimony that he had never made such an investment before. More recently, again without permission, he removed $10,000 from [a] checking account to rent a ski lodge for the upcoming season. ...

"[The defendant] testified that the parties had ‘grown apart’ and that for a year there had been ‘no emotional or physical relationship or intimacy.’ The [defendant] struck the court as somewhat insincere,...

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13 cases
  • Anketell v. Kulldorff
    • United States
    • Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • September 28, 2021
    ...decision expressly stated that it had considered the statutory criteria set forth in § 46b-82. See 263 A.3d 995 Leonova v. Leonov , 201 Conn. App. 285, 331, 242 A.3d 713 (2020) ("general reference by the court to those criteria is all that is required"), 207 Conn.App. 843 cert. denied, 336 ......
  • Fronsaglia v. Fronsaglia
    • United States
    • Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • February 23, 2021
    ...proper even if it is expressed as a function of the parties’ gross earnings." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Leonova v. Leonov , 201 Conn. App. 285, 300, 242 A.3d 713 (2020)."[We have] previously ... overlooked the failure of the trial court to make a finding as to a party's net income......
  • Seder v. Errato
    • United States
    • Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • March 15, 2022
    ...was granted, and the defendant briefs all three independent bases on which the court's decision is predicated. See Leonova v. Leonov, 201 Conn.App. 285, 314-15, 242 A.3d 713 (2000) (‘‘although precedent establishes that an appeal or claim of error can be rendered moot if the appellant negle......
  • Mitchell v. Bogonos
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    • Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • March 7, 2023
    ...of the plaintiffs earning capacity. As it was entitled to do, the court relied on the plaintiffs actual income. See Leonova v. Leonov, 201 Conn.App. 285, 322-26, 242 A.3d 713 (2020) (court was entitled to rely on plaintiff's actual income instead of plaintiffs earning capacity when determin......
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