Wednesday, December 13, 2006
The Supreme Court of Connecticut has affirmed the court of appeals ruling in a case in which a couple were married for 11 years, lived together for a number of years and then remarried for six years. (See Family Law Prof Blog post of February 10, 2006) The cour of appeals had found that the trial court, in fixing the term of the maintenance award, improperly took into consideration both the prior marriage and cohabitation and the fact that there were adult children with grandchildren residing in the house.
The court concludes that " 'length of the marriage' criterion prescribed in [statutes governing maintenance awards], as a matter of law, does not include prior marriages or cohabitation preceding the marriage."
As to the issue of the maintenance order being a disguished child support order for the adult children and grandchild in the home, the court reviewed cases from a number of other jurisdictions on the issue. The court noted that the need to care for minor children can property affect alimony because of the lesser income a custodial parent is able to earn while caring for a minor child, but even then, "an alimony award should address the needs of that parent, not the minor child, whose needs properly are addressed under a support order." However, the court found no justification for considering the impact of an adult child or grandchild in the home in crafting alimony.
Loughlin v. Loughlin, 2006 Conn. LEXIS 463 (December 12, 2006)
Opinion on the web (last visited December 13, 2006 bgf)