Thiede v. Thiede
A court can deny an unemployed party's motion to modify alimony, as a result of a substantial change in circumstances, if the court finds that the party restricted its job search to Connecticut and failed to use "best efforts" to find work. The parties divorced in March 2010. At that time, the plaintiff husband, who has a Ph.D. in molecular biology, earned $3,269 gross per week as a research scientist at Pfizer Pharmaceutical, and the defendant wife was not employed. In 2010, the court ordered the husband to pay alimony of $1,000 per week and child support of $500 per week. In February 2011, the wife was earning $840 gross per week as a registered nurse. Alimony was modified, so that the husband paid alimony of $724 per week. In or prior to July 2012, the older children reached the age of majority. Child support for the youngest child was modified, so that the husband paid $305 per week. Allegedly, the husband resigned from Pfizer in 2012. Currently, he receives $525 gross per week in unemployment benefits. The wife earns $866 gross per week as a nurse. The husband is unwilling to live elsewhere, because that would interfere with his visitation with the minor child. He has been unable to find a job in his field in Connecticut. The husband, who dreamed of owning his own business, decided to open a coffee shop in Haddam. The husband argued that there was a substantial change in circumstances, because he is not employed at Pfizer, and his anticipated earnings from his coffee shop are much lower than his earnings as a research scientist. The court found that the husband failed to establish that suitable work in his field is not available, only that he is not willing to move away from Connecticut. The husband, wrote the court, "has voluntarily chosen not to use his best efforts to seek re-employment." Although the husband established that his earnings will be reduced, he has sufficient funds to pay alimony and child support, because he has $970,000 in assets and $36,950 in debts. The court denied the husband's motion to modify alimony.