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Berchem Moses PC
  • Milford 203-783-1200
  • westport 203-227-9545

Connecticut alimony no longer up to trial court?

A December decision by the Connecticut Supreme Court has some observers puzzled. Rather than clarifying the purpose of alimony, some feel the Dan v. Dan decision made this important aspect of family law more ambiguous.

Family law attorneys have often debated the purpose of spousal support: is it to keep the recipient in the lifestyle to which they've become accustomed? Is it a financial bridge between marriage and a point at which the recipient is to become self-sufficient? Is it a form of punishment (perhaps for cheating or other marital transgressions)? Many would say Dan v. Dan doesn't satisfactorily answer any of those questions.

A former president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers said the decision "basically rewrote the (alimony) statute."

In the case, the court said that a dramatic income increase for one party is not alone grounds for a spousal support modification for the other party.

According to the statute that came from the Connecticut legislature, that was one of the factors listed to be considered in modification hearings. Perhaps after Dan v. Dan, that's no longer applicable.

In the case, the husband had an annual salary of nearly $700,000. In the divorce settlement, he was ordered to pay $15,000 monthly.

A decade later, his salary was up to $3.4 million per year, plus stock options. His ex-wife had health problems and medical expenses. She and her family law attorney requested an increase in alimony, which a judge granted. The ex-wife could now expect $40,000 monthly.

However, appeals of the decision eventually reached the state's highest court, which overturned the decision that had resulted in the spousal support increase. The court wrote that "as a general rule" there should be no spousal support modification "when the only change in circumstances is an increase in the supporting spouse's income."

It is clear that this decision will have an impact on many in Milford. You can discuss the specifics of your situation with an experienced family law attorney.

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