PATRICIA MISTHOPOULOS v. NOEL MISTHOPOULOS, SC 17816
Judicial District of Stamford
Dissolution of Marriage; Financial Orders; Whether Court Properly Ordered Defendant to pay Percentage of his Annual Employment Bonus as Child Support; Whether Order That Defendant pay Portion of His Bonus as Support and Alimony Retroactively Modified Pendente Lite Orders; Whether Court Divided an Asset in Contradictory ways and Abused its Discretion in Awarding Attorney's Fees. In 2006, the trial court dissolved the parties' marriage and ordered the defendant to pay a set amount of alimony and child support per week. The court also ordered the defendant to pay twenty percent of his yearly employment bonus, after tax, to the plaintiff as additional child support and another twenty percent of his bonus as additional alimony. In rendering these financial orders, the court noted that the child support award represented a deviation from the child support guidelines and that such deviation was due to the defendant's substantial assets, his superior earning capacity, the extraordinary disparity in parental income and the essential needs of the plaintiff. In dividing the parties' martial property, the court ordered, among other things, that the defendant keep as his sole property his Fidelity investment account and that the plaintiff receive seventy percent of the defendant's vested shares of Bank of America stock. As to attorney's fees, the court noted that the defendant utilized approximately $200,000 to $225,000 to pay his legal fees during the course of the dissolution and that he contributed approximately $150,000 towards the plaintiff's legal fees. It then ordered the defendant to make an additional payment of $50,000 to the plaintiff for her legal fees. In this appeal, the Supreme Court will address an issue that also arises in the pending matter of Maturo v. Maturo, SC 17776, i.e., whether the trial court properly ordered the defendant to pay a percentage of his yearly bonus as child support. The defendant in the present matter, like the defendant in Maturo, argues that the court's child support award grossly exceeds the needs of his children and amounts to a misapplication of the child support guidelines. The Supreme Court will also determine whether the trial court's order directing the defendant to pay a portion of his 2005 bonus as support and alimony retroactively modified the trial court's pendente lite orders. In addition, it will determine whether the trial court improperly divided the defendant's Fidelity account in two contradictory ways and abused its discretion in awarding attorney's fees.