Monday, January 6, 2014

Simmons v. Simmons case brief

Simmons v. Simmons case brief summary
708 A.2d 949 (1998)

CASE SYNOPSIS
Defendant wife sought review of a judgment from the Superior Court for the District of New Haven (Connecticut) which dissolved her marriage to plaintiff husband and granted certain other relief. The trial court rejected the wife's argument that the husband's medical degree was property subject to equitable distribution pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46b-81 upon the dissolution of the marriage.

CASE FACTS
Defendant wife challenged the trial court's conclusion that plaintiff husband's medical degree was not property subject to equitable distribution pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46b-81 upon dissolution of their marriage, and argued that the trial court abused its discretion in its distribution of the remaining marital property and in denying alimony to defendant.

DISCUSSION

  • The court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the trial court. 
  • The court concluded that plaintiff's medical degree was not property subject to equitable distribution under § 46b-81 because the advanced degree was a mere expectancy of the possibility of future earnings and was not "property" within the meaning of the statute. 
  • The court found that the trial court did take into account the husband's degree and the potential for enhanced earning capacity when it distributed property. 
  • All liquid assets were distributed to the wife, and all debt went to the husband. 
  • However, the trial court abused its discretion by not awarding the wife some alimony in view of her age, and the emotional and financial support she offered her family during her husband's schooling.

CONCLUSION
The court reversed in part the judgment that dissolved the parties' marriage and granted certain other relief and remanded the case for further proceedings because the trial court abused its discretion in failing to award some alimony to defendant wife. Though plaintiff husband's medical degree was not property for purposes of equitable distribution, alimony was the proper means of compensating the wife for supporting him through school.

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