Connecticut Appellate Court: Alimony Agreement

A Connecticut Appellate Court decision emphasizes the importance of formulating clear and unambiguous language when crafting an alimony agreement regarding the payment of college expenses under Connecticut General Statutes §46b-56.  In Loso v. Loso, 132 Conn. App. 257 (2011), the parties entered into a post-judgment agreement pursuant to which the defendant is obligated “to pay for one-half the cost of [his daughter’s] college educational expenses for a four year degree net of scholarships or grants subject to the limitation that said cost shall not exceed the tuition for a full-time residential student at UCONN-Storrs.”

Plaintiff Filed Motion

The Plaintiff subsequently filed a motion for contempt, alleging that the defendant was obligated to pay one-half the cost of their daughter’s fall 2010 semester at Sacred Heart University, which included charges for a meal plan, health insurance, recreation and athletic fees, housing and tuition.  The defendant contended that his obligation was capped at one-half the tuition for a full-time residential student at UCONN Storrs.

After reviewing the plain language of the agreement, however, the Court held that the defendant was indeed responsible for one-half of the daughter’s educational expenses- not just tuition- but further held that his obligation was capped at the full amount of tuition for a student at UCONN Storrs, not one-half.  It appears this issue could have been avoided altogether had the defendant specified that he would pay one-half of the college expenses up to one-half the amount charged by the University of Connecticut for a full-time residential student.

Case Importance

Once again, this case illustrates the importance of drafting clear and unambiguous language when crafting a provision regarding the payment of college expenses to ensure that the agreement accurately reflects the parties’ intentions.  This is particularly true when a child will be attending an institution which costs more than the University of Connecticut, as a party could be ordered to pay well in excess of the expected amount.

Should you have any questions regarding payment of college expenses in the context of a post-judgment matrimonial case, please do not hesitate to contact our office. Managing partner, Attorney Joseph Maya welcomes inquiries regarding matrimonial matters and can be reached in the firm’s Westport office by telephone at (203) 221-3100 or by e-mail at Contact the firm today to schedule a free initial consultation.