Larson v. Larson
The trial courts finding that the plaintiff had the ability to pay his child support and alimony obligations was not clearly erroneous and, therefore, the determination that the plaintiff willfully failed to comply with the courts orders to pay alimony and child support was not an abuse of discretion. The plaintiff, Peter Larson, appealed from the judgment of the trial court claiming that the court abused its discretion in reducing the amount of alimony and child support payable by him to the defendant, Matilde Larson, finding him in contempt for failure to comply with the prior support and alimony orders and ordering him to pay the defendants attorneys fees. The Appellate Court affirmed the judgment. The plaintiffs arguments were found to lack merit that the court erred in its calculation of the new child support and alimony orders. The trial court found that, at the time of his motion for modification, the plaintiff was unemployed and his net income was $21,648, compared to $85,452 at the time of the dissolution judgment. The court determined that there had been a substantial change in circumstances and reduced the alimony order to $1 per year. The court calculated the parties presumptive child support at $348 per week and reduced the plaintiffs obligation to $115 per week retroactive to a certain date. The trial court also did not abuse its discretion in determining that the plaintiff wilfully failed to comply with the courts orders. The plaintiff claimed that the court erred in finding him in contempt for failing to pay child support and alimony and ordering him to pay $99,809.12 in arrearages. The plaintiff contended that because he was unable to pay alimony and child support due to a lack of funds, his failure to pay was not willful or without good cause. However, the trial courts finding that the plaintiff had the ability to pay his child support and alimony obligations was not clearly erroneous. Further, the court did not abuse its discretion in awarding attorneys fees. The plaintiff was provided with an effective opportunity to challenge the reasonableness of such fees at a hearing and failed to do so.