Marsico v. Marsico

Decision Date19 March 1985
Citation195 Conn. 491,488 A.2d 1248
PartiesJane R. MARSICO v. Lawrence V. MARSICO.
CourtConnecticut Supreme Court

Robert M. Wechsler, Stamford, for appellant (plaintiff).

John W. Madigan III, Stamford, for appellee (defendant).


SHEA, Associate Justice.

This appeal requires us to determine the meaning of a provision of a settlement agreement incorporated into the judgment dissolving the marriage of the parties. Because we agree with the interpretation adopted by the trial court, we find no error.

On December 2, 1981, the plaintiff wife obtained a dissolution of her marriage to the defendant husband. The judgment "incorporated by reference" the property settlement agreement signed by the parties. See General Statutes § 46b-66. The eighth paragraph of the settlement agreement recites that the parties recognize that the defendant husband's interest in his business enterprise as well as in two parcels of real estate, which he was to retain after the dissolution, might increase substantially in value, particularly if the real estate were sold. In the next paragraph, the parties agree, in view of their realization that such an event would result in greatly increasing the defendant's assets above the values stated in his financial affidavit, that the plaintiff wife "should participate in this appreciation of the assets of the Defendant at the time of the dissolution of the marriage"; and, accordingly, they agreed that a judgment lien should be filed upon the land records against the two pieces of real estate "to the end that the Plaintiff's interests under this Stipulation For Judgment shall be protected from [sic] the equity of the Defendant in these two properties."

The agreement then provided for an "additional alimony" payment to the plaintiff wife of $100,000, payable in installments of $10,000 per month commencing on December 1, 1981, and ending on September 1, 1982, which payments were subject to termination only in the event that the plaintiff were to die during that period. By contrast, the "permanent alimony" of $800 per month under an earlier paragraph was terminable upon the remarriage or the death of the plaintiff wife or upon the death of the defendant husband.

In the final paragraph the plaintiff waived the contempt remedy for the collection of the "additional alimony" until such time as one or both of the real estate parcels against which the judgment lien was to be filed were sold or otherwise alienated. In the event of a sale before the end of the period for the payment of the additional alimony, the defendant would deposit in an interest bearing trustee account a sum sufficient to guarantee his payment of such alimony.

On September 30, 1982, the defendant paid to the plaintiff the entire $100,000 obligation designated as "additional alimony." The defendant subsequently requested that the trial court order the release of the judgment lien filed pursuant to the settlement agreement. The plaintiff objected, alleging that the defendant was over $6000 in arrears on his permanent alimony payments and that the judgment lien was intended to secure this obligation as well as the additional alimony obligation, which had been satisfied by the $100,000 payment. The trial court viewed the judgment lien as securing only the additional alimony obligation and ordered the plaintiff to release the lien. We agree with the trial court's interpretation of the settlement agreement.

"Where, as in this case, the provisions of a [settlement] agreement have been incorporated by reference in the judgment, it is necessary to ascertain the intent of the parties as expressed in the language of the agreement rather than to construe the language of the decree itself ...." McDonnell v. McDonnell, 166 Conn. 146, 150, 348 A.2d 575 (1974); accord Bronson v. Bronson, 1 Conn.App. 337, 338 n. 4, 471 A.2d 977 (1984). We have indicated on several occasions that settlement agreements incorporated into dissolution judgments should be interpreted consistently with accepted contract principles. See Marcus v. Marcus, 175 Conn. 138, 141-42, 394 A.2d 727 (1978); Sturtevant v. Sturtevant, 146 Conn. 644, 647-48, 153 A.2d 828 (1959). "When a contract term is ambiguous, ' "[t]he oft-repeated rule is that the intent of the parties is to be...

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6 cases
  • Guille v. Guille
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • May 14, 1985
    ...incorporated into dissolution judgments should be interpreted consistently with accepted contract principles." Marsico v. Marsico, 195 Conn. 491, 493, 488 A.2d 1284 (1985). The provision precluding modification, as interpreted by the defendant, would effectively limit his minor children's r......
  • Taveres-Doram v. Doram, No. FA 04-4002471S (Conn. Super. 10/3/2006)
    • United States
    • Connecticut Superior Court
    • October 3, 2006
    ...196 Conn. 260, 265, 492 A.2d 175 (1985). This requires an inquiry into the intent of the parties at that time. Marsico v. Marsico, 195 Conn. 491, 493, 488 A.2d 1248 (1985). When a written contract contains the complete agreement between two parties, a court interpreting that contract is lim......
  • Kaplan v. Kaplan
    • United States
    • Connecticut Court of Appeals
    • July 8, 1986
    ...196 Conn. 260, 265, 492 A.2d 175 (1985). This requires an inquiry into the intent of the parties at that time. Marsico v. Marsico, 195 Conn. 491, 493, 488 A.2d 1248 (1985). We cannot conceive that, by agreeing that the custody of the minor child should be with his father subject to the righ......
  • Baldwin v. Baldwin
    • United States
    • Connecticut Court of Appeals
    • August 22, 1989
    ...written words considering both the circumstances of the execution of the writing and the object of the parties. Marsico v. Marsico, 195 Conn. 491, 493, 488 A.2d 1248 (1985). A word is ambiguous when it is capable of being interpreted by reasonably well informed persons in either of two or m......
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