Nassra v. Nassra
The trial court, by imposing orders that went beyond the terms of the parties' separation agreement, improperly modified the agreement. The trial court dissolved the marriage of the plaintiff, Eliana Nassra, and the defendant, George Nassra, and incorporated, relevantly, the terms of their separation agreement into the judgment. The agreement contained a section regarding the release of claims and a handwritten sentence that the defendant "shall provide proof to the [plaintiff] through counsel within one week of the date he notifies his counsel to withdraw the pending lawsuit against the [plaintiff] in Lebanon." The plaintiff filed a post-judgment motion for contempt alleging that the defendant violated the terms of the separation agreement by failing to withdraw the pending case against her in Lebanon and that she faced incarceration if she failed to attend trial. The court held a hearing and stated that the plaintiff was not entitled to a withdrawal of the Lebanon action, only to proof that the defendant unequivocally directed his attorney to withdraw the action. The court noted that if the defendant needed to direct his attorney to withdraw the action against a third party to have the matter withdrawn as to the plaintiff, the defendant was required to do that to comply with the agreement. The court held a second hearing and determined that the defendant's letter did not comply with its prior orders. The court issued further orders and directed the defendant's Connecticut counsel to draw up a letter to be signed by the defendant instructing counsel in Lebanon to cease any proceedings in the action against the plaintiff or anybody with her in the courts in Lebanon. The defendant appealed claiming that the court's order improperly constituted a modification of the separation agreement. The Appellate Court agreed and reversed the judgment. The relevant sentence in the separation agreement was clear and unambiguous and required the defendant to provide proof that he notified his counsel to withdraw the pending lawsuit in Lebanon. The trial court imposed orders that went beyond the terms of the separation agreement. The orders constituted a modification of the separation agreement. The case was remanded with direction to vacate those orders.