Divorce Litigants Are at Risk if There Is No Specified Educational Support Orders with Limitations in Separation Agreement

by Joseph C. Maya on Aug. 11, 2017

Divorce & Family Law Divorce Other  Education 

Summary: A blog post about a recent Connecticut court decision.

Contact the experienced family law and divorce attorneys at Maya Murphy, P.C. today at (203) 221-3100 or JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

In DiGuiseppe v. DiGuisepe, 174 Conn. App. 855 (2017), the Connecticut Appellate Court recently held that a divorce agreement’s college expenses provisions are enforceable against the defendant father without limitations because the parties’ agreement did not include the protections of General Statutes § 46b-56c and the defendant father failed to raise the issues properly at his post judgment contempt hearing.  The parties used a third-party neutral mediator to reach their marriage dissolution agreement which included post-secondary education mandates to use CHET accounts they had already established and that, if the CHET accounts were eventually exhausted, that the defendant father was to be solely responsible for any remaining college tuition, room and board.  Otherwise, the agreement did not carry any other educational support orders, did not implement the UCONN cap and did not reserve jurisdiction for the court to revisit any issues under General Statutes § 46b-56c.  The defendant father argued that an additional form submitted by the parties to the clerk provided the protections of General Statutes § 46b-56c, but it was not signed by the court and was also not incorporated into the judgment of dissolution like the parties’ agreement.  The defendant also argued on appeal that, under well-established contract law principles, that he is entitled to definite and certain terms with respect to his college educational expense obligations instead of an undetermined amount under the agreement.  Again, the Connecticut Supreme Court held that because the defendant had no factual or legal basis under the valid agreement to have it reviewed for ambiguity and because the defendant did not properly raise these issues to the lower court at the contempt hearing, the appeal was denied leaving him with uncapped potential responsibility for paying for college expenses.  This case is quite instructional in that if your marital dissolution agreement does not thoroughly and expressly address all of the statutory requirements and protections of the educational support order statute– General Statutes § 46b-56c—parties may be in jeopardy of waiving these rights forever.

If you are concerned that your dissolution of marriage agreement is lacking these protections, please contact the matrimonial and family law attorneys at Maya Murphy, P.C.

Source: DiGuiseppe v. DiGuiseppe, 174 Conn. App. 855 (2017).

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