Request for Attorneys’ Fees Denied: Court finds that wife “cannot be rewarded for her own financial indiscretions.”

Superior Court: Judicial District of Fairfield

The Superior Court in the Judicial District of Fairfield (Owens, JTR) issued a decision following a contested post-judgment divorce hearing in which an ex-wife, of whom had financial indiscretions, sought counsel fees from her ex-husband in an amount of “not less than $50,000.00.”

The parties, who had been divorced since shortly after their divorce trial in the spring of 2010, have been engaged in protracted litigation – including an appeal by the wife to the Appellate Court – over numerous issues relating to the judgment of dissolution and monies claimed to be owed by the husband to the wife.  The parties each filed three motions which were heard at one time by the Superior Court in November of 2011.  Among other allegations, the wife claimed that the husband – who is gainfully employed – should have to pay for her appellate and post-judgment counsel fees, which are in excess of $110,000.00 and rapidly increasing.

In completely denying each and every one of the wife’s post-judgment motions, including a motion for contempt and the motion for counsel fees, the Honorable Howard T. Owens, Jr. held that “the Defendant’s monthly shortfall in liquidity is not the Plaintiff’s responsibility.  She makes her own financial decisions and has received what the Court has determined was just and appropriate under all the circumstances.

Court Decision

The Court stated that it considered not just the parties’ present financial status (the wife claims to have no assets available with which to pay counsel fees), but also considered the voluntary depletion of her net worth since the date of trial, noting the considerable alimony she had received and had apparently spent, as well as her elective living expenses and the disposition of her other assets.  The Court opined that the wife “cannot be rewarded for her own financial indiscretions.

Finding her request for counsel fees to be “inequitable in the extreme” given the testimony presented at the evidentiary hearing, the Court denied the wife’s request for counsel fees and left her responsible for her own costs of this ongoing litigation.

See Von Kohorn v. Von Kohorn, Docket No. FA-09-4027456-S, Superior Court, J.D. of Fairfield at Bridgeport (Owens, JTR), decided February 6, 2012.  Counsel for Plaintiff: MAYA MURPHY, P.C. by H. Daniel Murphy, Esq.

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