In Rosen v. Grand, Superior Court, Judicial District of Stamford-Norwalk, Docket No. FSTFA044000277S (Aug. 25, 2011, Wenzel, J.), the plaintiff’s husband filed a motion to modify his unallocated alimony and support payments six years after the parties’ divorce.  The plaintiff and defendant were originally married in 1989 and had two children together. When they were divorced on January 13, 2005, the court incorporated into its final decree the terms of a separation agreement entered into between the parties.

The Alimony and Child Support Agreement

Under the terms of that agreement, the plaintiff was required to pay unallocated alimony and child support to the defendant, who had primary physical custody of the children, in the amount of $7,292 per month.  The agreement provided that the amount of alimony could be modified upon a substantial change in circumstances.

On November 22, 2010, the plaintiff filed a motion to modify his unallocated support obligation, which the court previously reduced to $4,000 per month.  In reviewing the then-current circumstances of the parties, the court found that the defendant wife changed her employment from an advertising group, where she was compensated based on commissions, to a charitable association where she served as a regional director and was paid a salary. Though the wife testified she experienced a slight reduction in income, her financial affidavit actually reflected a slight increase.

The Court’s Findings

The plaintiff claimed that his income had decreased between thirty-five and forty percent since the last modification.  To support this claim, the plaintiff pointed to the financial affidavits he filed in both the previous hearing and the current hearing.  In his prior affidavit, the plaintiff showed gross weekly income of $2,707 and net weekly income of $2,359.  In the more recent affidavit, however, he demonstrated gross weekly income of $5,019 and net income of $1,348. The main reason for the change was an additional entry shown as a deduction on the more recent affidavit for “chiropractic expenses” in the amount of $3,109 per week.

Although the court recognized the deduction, because the previous modification took place approximately halfway through the previous year, the court adjusted it, ultimately finding that the plaintiff’s weekly net income for the basis of the motion for modification was $1,950, a seventeen percent decrease.  Notably, the Court also took into consideration the fact that in June 2011, the youngest child, who was eighteen at the time of the hearing, will graduate from high school and no longer be entitled to support.

Ultimately finding that the foregoing factors constituted a substantial change in circumstances, the Court reduced the plaintiff’s support obligation to $3,200 per month effective January 1, 2011, then $2,700 per month effective July 1, 2011.

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