The Connecticut Appellate Court also approved a controversial decision giving financial issues superiority over custody considerations in Olson v. Mohammadu, 134 Conn.App. 252 (2012). In that case, the father claimed that he needed to move from Florida to Connecticut to be nearer to the parties’ children because the mother was using his distance from the children in Florida to interfere with his parental access. The move also entailed a pay cut for the father, so that the issue before the court was his claim for a downward modification of alimony and child support based on the change in his financial circumstances.
In order to prevail on a motion to modify alimony and child support, a party must first establish that there has been a “substantial change in circumstances.” If that threshold is reached, then the judge may modify the financial orders. The Appellate Court affirmed trial judge refusal to consider the claim of a parental motivation for moving and instead found that there was no substantial change in circumstances at all because the father’s move from Florida was purely voluntary, and therefore essentially brought about by his own “fault.” The Connecticut Supreme Court has granted certification in this case and is reviewing the following question: ““Did the Appellate Court properly conclude that the defendant was not entitled to a modification of his alimony and child support obligations because his voluntary return to Connecticut to be closer to his son was an ‘unacceptable reason’ for his decreased income under Sanchione v. Sanchione, 173 Conn. 397, 378 A.2d 522 (1977)?”
Sarah Stark Oldham is a divorce lawyer with Rutkin, Oldham & Griffin, L.L.C. and a Fellow of both the International and American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.