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Court Enjoins Defendant
From Spending Personal Finances to Secure Future Child Support Payments

In a recent post-judgment divorce action, the Superior Court of Connecticut, Judicial District of Fairfield at Bridgeport considered whether to grant a plaintiff wife’s motion to enjoin the defendant husband from spending recently-obtained monies. She asked the court to place a portion of the money in escrow as security on child support payments.

In this case, the parties were divorced in November 2005. The husband was required to pay $2,000 per month in child support, as well as $150,000 to the wife as property division. Because the husband failed to comply with the latter order, the court modified the amount to $4,000 per month until the balance was paid in full. The husband’s only claimed source of income was a one-third interest in a family trust, which he sold for $2.4 million in December 2008. However, he did not use any of this money to pay off the $150,000 owed to the wife.

The wife filed a motion to enjoin the defendant from dissipating the funds he acquired and sought to secure $96,000 – or four year’s worth of child support payments – in an escrow account. The wife was concerned about whether these payments would be made due to the large amount of debt the husband had incurred. She argued to the trial court that it had the authority, under General Statutes SectionSection 46b-82 and 46b-86, to provide security to protect its orders. The defendant agreed, but instead argued that he could not be enjoined from spending his own finances – he claimed the plaintiff was requesting “a taking of the defendant’s funds.”

Section 46b-82(b) authorizes courts to “secure the present and future financial interests of a party” pursuant to a final order for periodic alimony payments. Connecticut case law highlights the court’s concern of an “obligor’s extravagant disposition of property” interfering with the proper enforcement of a court order. As such, the state legislature has adopted statutes in response to concerns about spouses avoiding their monetary obligations. In this case, the Superior Court agreed with the wife, pointing to Section 46b-82(b) as its source of authority to secure the husband’s obligation for future child support payments. As such, the court did not commit a taking. The court granted the plaintiff’s motion, and ordered the husband to place $65,000 into escrow.

Whether advancing or defending a motion involving awards of alimony, assignment of property, and child support, a divorced individual is best served by consulting with an experienced family law practitioner.

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If the court refuses to award alimony at the final hearing, and if alimony is not included in the final judgment, neither spouse can return to court in the future and request alimony due to a change in circumstance. Many final divorce judgments in Connecticut award $1 a year in alimony because this preserves the right to revisit the alimony issue if circumstances change.
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