In a post judgment divorce case, the Connecticut Appellate Court validated the use of ongoing discovery to obtain documentation necessary to perform an independent review of an alimony payor’s income. In this particular case, the parties obtained an uncontested divorce in 2007. Pursuant to their separation agreement, the husband was required to pay the wife alimony in accordance with designated percentages of his gross income. The separation agreement also provided that for any year in which the husband paid less than the maximum amount that could be due, he must provide the wife any and all W-2 and 1099 forms, or other documents to corroborate his earned income for the previous year. The wife was permitted to have the documents reviewed by a certified public accountant of her choosing, and in the event the husband underpaid, he would be responsible for the cost of the review. In 2010, the wife filed a motion for contempt, claiming that, based on the documents she had received, the husband underpaid alimony for the 2007 tax year by almost $100,000.00. The wife also claimed that the husband had refused to provide her with the documents required by their separation agreement. According to the wife, the parties’ agreement required the husband to provide documents beyond his tax filings. However, the lower court disagreed, stating that it was not going to allow the wife to continually second guess the husband’s income.
The wife appealed and the Appellate Court ruled in her favor. In reviewing the parties’ separation agreement, the Court found that the pertinent language expressly stated that the parties intended to require the disclosure of documents necessary to corroborate the amount of gross earned income reported by the husband. According to the Appellate Court, if the agreement entitled the wife to obtain only the defendant’s tax forms, her review would be restricted to determining whether the husband simply made a mathematical error in calculating the sum of alimony due. The Court found that the agreement clearly and unambiguously contemplated a more thorough review. Hirschfeld v. Machinist, 137 Conn. App. 690 (2012).
By: Michael D. DeMeola, Esq.
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