Powell-Ferri v. Ferri
A party who loses control of a marital asset during the pendente lite period may not be required to pursue legal action, to attempt to gain control of the asset. The plaintiff wife filed a complaint to dissolve her marriage to the defendant husband and moved to find the husband in contempt, because he failed to provide an adequate financial affidavit within 30 days, pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes §25-5(a). Allegedly, the husband's financial affidavit did not disclose the value of each of the businesses in which he has an interest. The husband explained it made more sense to him to obtain an expert valuation of his interests closer to the time of trial. The court did not find the husband's conduct with respect to the financial affidavit was willful, and it denied the wife's motion for contempt. The court ordered the husband to show cause, why he should not provide evidence of the value of his interests within 60 days, so that the wife receives fair notice. The wife also argued that the husband violated the automatic orders, which generally prevent the transfer of property without consent or a court order, because he did not take sufficient action to protect his interests in a family trust, known as the 1983 trust, and the trustees allegedly transferred the majority of the 1983 trust assets into a new trust, the 2011 trust, over which the husband has no control. The 1983 trust apparently was one of the most significant marital assets. The husband claimed that the trustees acted in his best interests, that his wife is not entitled to the trust assets and that he did not want to sue his brother, who is one of the trustees. The court did not find any Connecticut decisions on point. Ruling on an issue of apparent first impression, the court was not persuaded that the automatic orders require that a party who loses control of a marital asset pursue legal action, to attempt to gain control of the asset. The court denied the wife's motion for contempt and did not award attorneys' fees.