In Divorce Action, Husband’s Appeal Dismissed Due to Repeated Instances of Contempt

The Case

As indicated in a Connecticut Appellate Court decision, a party that has engaged in repeated instances of contemptuous conduct may be precluded from pursuing an appeal.  In this particular case, the parties obtained a divorce in the Judicial District of Stamford / Norwalk.  At that time, the husband was ordered to pay the wife alimony in the amount of $22,000.00 per month and child support in the amount of $686.00 per week.

The court also ordered the husband to appear in court once per month with updates as to his employment search.  Shortly thereafter, the wife filed a motion for contempt, claiming that the husband had moved to Florida and stopped paying financial support.  The court granted the wife’s motion, entered an incarceration order with a purge amount of almost $25,000.00, and issued a capias since the defendant had failed to appear.

Despite the foregoing orders, the husband failed to appear at subsequent hearings, and was found in contempt several more times.  As of March 1, 2011, the court had entered nine contempt orders against him.  When the husband later filed an appeal, the wife moved to dismiss, claiming that the husband’s “persistent contemptuous conduct demonstrate[d] a manifest disregard and deliberate defiance of the court’s orders.”

The Court’s Findings

The Appellate Court agreed.  In furtherance of its decision, the Court explained that it has discretion to dismiss an appeal where the appellant is in contempt of the trial court’s orders.  Although such instances are rare, the Court has acted in cases where there was “clearly a calculated and continued pattern of contemptuous behavior in defiance of the authority of the courts of this state.”  Bubrosky v. Bubrosky, 129 Conn. App. 338 (2011).

The Court will look at a number of factors, including the number of times the appellant was held in contempt, whether it is likely that the appellant will continue to frustrate orders of the court issued in connection with the same matter, whether the appellant has appeared when summoned to court, and whether the appellant has ever purged himself of the contempt.  Id.

In this particular case, the Court found that the husband was held in contempt nine times since the filing of his appeal, that he had not amended his appeal to challenge the contempt findings, that he failed to appeared in court on several occasions, and that there was nothing in the record to suggest that he would comply with additional orders.

By: Attorney Joseph Maya, Esq.

Should you have any questions regarding the enforcement of divorce orders, or matrimonial matters in general, please feel free to contact Attorney Joseph Maya He can be reached in the firm’s Westport office at (203) 221-3100 or by e-mail at jmaya@mayalaw.com.

Our firm in Westport serves clients with divorce, matrimonial, and family law issues from all over the state including the towns of: Bethel, Bridgeport, Brookfield, Danbury, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Monroe, New Canaan, New Fairfield, Newton, Norwalk, Redding, Ridgefield, Shelton, Sherman, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Weston, Westport, and Wilton.