No. MMX FA-02-099558 S
April 4, 2007
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION RE MOTION FOR CONTEMPT (MOTION 121 DATED JANUARY 29, 2007)
The parties presented evidence relating to the defendant's motion for contempt. The defendant claims that his former spouse violated court orders when she filed a federal tax return wherein she claimed both minor children as exemptions.
I. Facts of the Case
On August 13, 2003 the trial court dissolved the marriage of the parties and entered orders resolving all the parties' differences, including custody, support, alimony, property division, and counsel fees. The orders incorporated a voluntary agreement of that same date. As part of the agreement the judgment incorporated the following provision:
8. Dependency Exemption: Commencing with 2003, provided that the Husband is current with his child support orders, he shall be entitled to claim one minor child as a dependent for income tax purposes.
For the year 2005 the plaintiff claimed both minor children as dependents. Her rationale was that the defendant was consistently late in his child support payments. At the time the plaintiff filed her taxes, the defendant was current.
Through his motion for contempt the defendant has asked the court to find that the plaintiff willfully violated the dissolution judgment in that she claimed both children as dependents. The burden of establishing a prima facie showing of contempt, in this case the willful disobedience of a court order, falls upon the defendant. In the present action, the defendant has established the existence of an order. He established the violation. He further established that the plaintiff's action was voluntary.
Although the plaintiff's actions violated the court's orders, noncompliance with an order of the court does mandate a finding of contempt. As the court held in Marcil v. Marcil, 4 Conn.App. 403, 405, 494 A.2d 620 (1985), "[t]he fact that the order had not been complied with fully, however, does not dictate that a finding of contempt must enter. It is within the sound discretion of the court to deny a claim for contempt when there is an adequate factual basis to explain the failure to honor the court's order."
Here the plaintiff genuinely believed that the late payments justified her actions. She was wrong. As a remedy for this violation, the court orders the defendant to relinquish her entitlement to one dependency exemption in the 2006 calendar year.