Mckeon v. Lennon, s. 30067

Decision Date27 September 2011
Docket Number30070,30068,30636.,30069,Nos. 30067,s. 30067
Citation27 A.3d 436,131 Conn.App. 585
CourtConnecticut Court of Appeals
PartiesMaria F. McKEONv.William P. LENNON.

OPINION TEXT STARTS HERE

Campbell D. Barrett, with whom were Jon T. Kukucka, and, on the brief, C. Michael Budlong, Hartford, for the appellant (plaintiff).Proloy K. Das, with whom were Debra C. Ruel and, on the brief, Dara P. Goings and James M. Ruel, Hartford, for the appellee (defendant).LAVINE, ROBINSON and LAVERY, Js.LAVERY, J.

In these consolidated appeals, the plaintiff, Maria F. McKeon, appeals from several judgments of the trial court issued in connection with the judgment dissolving her marriage to the defendant, William P. Lennon. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the court improperly (1) denied her motion to open the dissolution judgment (AC 30067); (2) denied her motions for modification of child support (AC 30068); (3) awarded attorney's fees to the defendant incurred in defending against her motions for modification (AC 30069); (4) clarified certain orders concerning the parties' beach home and certain accounts during a contempt hearing (AC 30070); and (5) awarded attorney's fees to the defendant incurred in defending against a motion for contempt (AC 30636 and AC 30636, as amended). We dismiss the appeal in AC 30067, reverse the judgments of the trial court in AC 30068 and AC 30069, affirm the judgment of the trial court in AC 30070, dismiss the appeal in AC 30636 and reverse the judgment of the trial court in AC 30636, as amended.

The record discloses the following relevant facts and procedural history. The parties were married on August 29,1981. During the course of their marriage, the parties had three children, none of whom had reached the age of majority by August 3, 2005, when the plaintiff initiated the action to dissolve the parties' marriage. Following a ten day trial, the court rendered judgment dissolving the parties' marriage on December 31, 2007. The court issued a wide range of orders in connection with the dissolution judgment, including, among other things, orders regarding the custody and care of the parties' minor children, the children's medical care and finances, the distribution of the parties' real and personal property, and the payment of child support and alimony as well as the parties' tax liabilities.

On January 18, 2008, the plaintiff filed a motion for reconsideration and reargument of several of the foregoing orders, which the court denied on March 27, 2008. Neither party appealed from that ruling. On April 28, 2008, the plaintiff filed a motion to open the dissolution judgment, which the court granted in part and denied in part on June 10, 2008. On June 26, 2008, the plaintiff filed her first appeal, AC 30067, to challenge the validity of the court's judgment concerning her motion to open.

On May 8, 2008, the plaintiff filed a motion for modification of the child support orders issued in connection with the dissolution judgment. The defendant filed an objection on May 23, 2008, in which he asserted a claim for attorney's fees incurred in defending against the plaintiff's motion for modification. On May 27, 2008, the plaintiff filed an amended motion for modification. The defendant responded by filing a second objection on May 30, 2008, in which he again asserted a claim for attorney's fees incurred in defending against the plaintiff's motions for modification. On June 10, 2008, the court issued a memorandum of decision denying the plaintiff's motions and granting the defendant's request for attorney's fees. The plaintiff filed her second appeal, AC 30068, on June 26, 2008, challenging the court's judgment denying her motions for modification. Shortly thereafter, on July 2, 2008, the court issued a memorandum of decision ordering the plaintiff to pay the defendant attorney's fees in the amount of $6497.60. The plaintiff then filed her third appeal, AC 30069, on July 21, 2008, challenging the award of attorney's fees.

On June 17, 2008, the defendant filed a motion for contempt, alleging that the plaintiff had failed to convey to him her interest in certain real property, located at 8 Crooked Road in Stonington (beach house), as required under the terms of the dissolution judgment. The next day, the defendant filed an amended motion for contempt, alleging that the plaintiff also had failed to divide certain accounts, established pursuant to the Connecticut Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (CUTMA), General Statutes §§ 45a–557 through 45a–560b, as required under the dissolution judgment. The plaintiff filed an objection to the defendant's motions for contempt on June 19, 2008, claiming that the court had provided her with an ownership interest in the parties' beach house and that the court had abused its discretion in allowing the parties to use the CUTMA accounts to fund the children's education. On July 8, 2008, the court conducted a hearing on the plaintiff's motion for contempt. During the hearing, the court stated that it never had intended to provide the plaintiff with a property interest in the parties' beach house and declined to open or reconsider its orders concerning the children's CUTMA accounts. On July 28, 2008, the plaintiff filed her fourth appeal, AC 30070, challenging the court's decision regarding the beach house and the children's CUTMA accounts.

On July 8, 2008, the plaintiff filed a separate motion for contempt alleging that the defendant had failed to comply with certain provisions of the dissolution judgment. The defendant filed an objection on July 15, 2008, denying the material allegations of that motion and requesting an award of attorney's fees. After hearing two days of argument and testimony from both parties, the court, on October 27, 2008, issued a memorandum of decision denying the plaintiff's motion for contempt and requesting that the defendant's attorney submit an affidavit of attorney's fees incurred in responding to that motion. On December 23, 2008, the plaintiff filed her fifth appeal, AC 30636, challenging the court's decision to award attorney's fees to the defendant. Thereafter, on August 4, 2009, the defendant filed an affidavit of attorney's fees. Following a hearing, the court granted the defendant's request for attorney's fees in the amount of $6127.50. The plaintiff then filed an amended appeal with this court in AC 30636 on September 15, 2009, again challenging the trial court's award of attorney's fees to the defendant. On February 20, 2009, the plaintiff filed a motion to consolidate her appeals, which this court granted on March 11, 2009. Additional facts and procedural history will be set forth as necessary.

IAC 30067

In her first appeal, AC 30067, the plaintiff challenges the trial court's ruling denying her motion to open the dissolution judgment. The plaintiff claims that the court improperly denied her motion to open without first conducting an evidentiary hearing regarding her claim against the defendant for fraudulent nondisclosure of assets. The defendant responds that this court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over this appeal because it was not taken from a final judgment. We agree with the defendant.

The following additional facts and procedural history are relevant to the plaintiff's appeal. On January 18, 2008, the plaintiff filed a motion for reconsideration and reargument of the financial and support orders issued in connection with the dissolution judgment. In that motion, the plaintiff challenged (1) the division of the parties' pension accounts; (2) the division of the defendant's 401(k) retirement plan; (3) the assignment of responsibility for the children's medical expenses; (4) the requirement that the plaintiff maintain life insurance coverage; (5) the award of child support; (6) the valuation of the parties' personal property; (7) the assignment of the parties' tax liabilities; (8) the distribution of the parties' real property; and (9) the failure to rule on a pendente lite motion for support that the plaintiff previously had filed with the court. The court denied the plaintiff's motion for reconsideration on March 27, 2008.

On April 28, 2008, the plaintiff filed a motion to open the dissolution judgment, claiming that (1) the judgment improperly required her to cover certain expenses incurred due to her adult daughter's operation of a motor vehicle; (3) the defendant fraudulently had failed to disclose certain assets that he had inherited from his brother; (4) the judgment improperly failed to award the defendant's preretirement survivor annuity to the plaintiff; (5) the judgment improperly failed to award cost of living adjustments and other increases to the plaintiff with respect to the portion of the defendant's preretirement benefits that she had been awarded; (6) the judgment improperly failed to assign responsibility for gains and losses on the parties' pension accounts; (7) the distribution of the parties' real property left the plaintiff “financially pinned”; (8) the order awarding the plaintiff two weeks at the parties' beach house was not in the best interest of the children; and (9) the judgment must be modified to require the parties to report amounts paid to their child care assistant on their individual tax returns in compliance with Internal Revenue Service regulations.1

On June 10, 2008, the court issued a memorandum of decision in connection with the plaintiff's motion to open. The court granted the plaintiff's request to open the judgment with respect to her first claim, vacating the order requiring that the parties maintain a vehicle for their adult daughter. The court then denied the plaintiff's request with respect to the third, seventh and eighth claims of her motion but determined that an evidentiary hearing was required in order to resolve the fourth, fifth, sixth and ninth claims of that motion. Accordingly, the court ordered the parties to secure a trial date and reserved judgment...

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