Connecticut Trial Court Official Decisions


NUNES v. NUNES, No. MMX FA 05 4004263 (11-29-2006) BRENDA
NUNES v. FRANK NUNES. 2006 Ct. Sup. 21940 No. MMX FA 05
4004263. Connecticut Superior Court, Judicial District of
Middlesex at Middletown. November 29, 2006.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: This case is unpublished as indicated by the


Based upon the evidence presented, this court makes the
following findings of facts and enters the following

The parties were married on July 26, 2003 in Essex,
Connecticut. Both lived in the State of Connecticut for
more than one year on the date this action commenced. The
court finds that it has jurisdiction over the marriage. The
marriage has broken down irretrievably. There are no minor
children who are issue of this marriage.


A. Background

The plaintiff in this action is a college educated social
worker employed by the State of Connecticut. At the time of
trial she resided with her parents in Old Saybrook, a town
with which she has long-term ties.

At the time of this marriage the plaintiff owned property
located on Greenmeadow Road in Old Saybrook. That property
was sold several months later. The equity there from,
$128,000, was utilized to purchase property located at
South View Circle in Old Saybrook.[fn1] In addition to
various items of personal property, the plaintiff had
approximately $15,000 in savings and checking accounts, and
owned a motor vehicle valued at approximately $8,500.00.
The couple also sold the plaintiff’s car shortly after the
marriage. The proceeds were used to assist in the purchase
of the South View Circle property.[fn2]

The defendant also is a social worker. Born in 1970, he too
has a college degree. At the time of trial the defendant
resided in a home located in Middletown, Connecticut,
realty he owned at the time of this marriage. The equity in
that real estate, $98,000, essentially remained unchanged
during the course of the marriage. Additionally the
defendant CT Page 21941 had several savings and stock
accounts. Unfortunately, the defendant commingled his bank
account funds with monies from his immediate family
members, many of whom resided in Portugal. During the course
of the marriage he routinely transferred money from his,
and later a joint account, to those relatives. He admits,
for example, that immediately after this marriage he
transferred over $19,000 to his parents. Based on the
evidence presented, this court determines that at the time
of the marriage, the defendant had over $20,000 in savings,
various stocks and bonds, and other personal properties.
Additionally, he owned the Middletown property and three
motor vehicles.

Both employed as social workers for the State of
Connecticut, the litigants earned approximately the same
income during the course of the marriage.

B. Real Estate

As indicated, both of these individuals owned property at
the time of this marriage. The defendant’s property was a
multi-unit parcel located on Durant Terrace in Middletown,
Connecticut. He, and eventually the plaintiff, resided in
one unit and rented the remainder.

At the time of the marriage, and again at the time of this
trial, the Durant Terrace property had a value of
approximately $239,000.00. During the marriage, the
defendant made several renovations and improvements upon
that property, using marital assets for the same. The
defendant refinanced that property during the term of the
marriage, primarily in order to receive a more favorable
interest rate and payment schedule. This court finds that
monies received at the time of the refinancing were used
for joint marital expenses that included renovations for
properties owned individually by the defendant and jointly
by this couple.[fn3]

The plaintiff’s pre-marital property was located on
Greenmeadow Road in Old Saybrook, Connecticut. This couple
initially attempted to rent the Greenmeadow property. When
the attempt to produce rental income failed, the litigants
decided to sell that property.[fn4] Both litigants
participated in the sale of the Greenmeadow Road home. Both
contributed to the labor required to sell the
property.[fn5] The net proceeds from the sale of that
property were $128,000.00.

A bone of contention throughout this marriage was the
litigants’ decision to purchase the South View Circle
property in Old Saybrook. The plaintiff prevailed in her
choice of towns for the marital residence. This would be
one of her last decisions. Once the parties decided upon CT
Page 21942 the purchase, the defendant took control of all
the assets. The funding for this purchase came primarily
from the plaintiff’s assets, although the defendant did
contribute some funds.[fn6]

Having secured the South View Circle property, these
parties began a constant battle over the scope of
renovations. This house became a money pit. The litigants’
initial assessment, one used for a building permit,
estimated renovations at a cost of $55,000. That estimate
was far too low. The parties gutted the South View Circle
property, changing everything from the floor plan to the
heating system. The defendant made many of the construction
decisions. The plaintiff failed to object.

It is clear from the trial testimony that this couple did
not have similar guidelines for the renovation of South
View Circle. The defendant had a specific design in mind.
To that extent, he rejected work done by paid contractors,
changed floor plans, and generally controlled the
renovation process.[fn7] He also determined the nature and
cost of materials for this project.

A small renovation became a gutted house. Walls, wiring,
plumbing, heating and floors were removed. The replacements
have yet to be installed. The project became so large that
the couple was forced to move from this residence into the
defendant’s home in Middletown. The plaintiff placed her
personal property in storage.

The plaintiff is not blameless. Although she disagreed with
the defendant’s choice of materials and floor plan, she did
not stop his actions. Through her inactivity, she in effect
acquiesced in his decisions and purchases.[fn8]

At the time of trial, the South View Circle property had a
value of $400,000.00. It was encumbered with mortgages
totaling $293,033.00. Located on the property are building
materials whose value totals $45,000.00.[fn9] Although the
defendant suggests that the property, upon completion, will
have a significantly higher value, that value is
speculative, at best. This court will rely on the value of
the property at the time of this hearing.

B. Personal Property

The strife caused by the South View Circle property
renovations would have caused stress in any healthy
marriage. This couple has arguments concerning other
purchases as well.

There have been various individual and joint bank accounts
throughout CT Page 21943 the marriage. These have been
detailed previously. Significantly, when the plaintiff sold
her home on Greenmeadow Road she placed the funds,
$128,000.00, in a joint account controlled by the defendant.
Of the funds, $68,994.68 remained at the time of the trial.
The money remains in an escrow account held by the
litigants’ counsel.

As indicated earlier, the couple sold the plaintiff’s car
shortly after the marriage. The defendant retained his
three vehicles, two Hondas and a Ford truck. For a time the
plaintiff drove the least desirable of these three
vehicles. Although the defendant complains that the
plaintiff purchased a new motor vehicle during the term of
the marriage, and therefore should reimburse him for the
same, this court finds that the defendant also replaced
some of his transportation with more expensive models.

C. Fault

This has been a short and troubled marriage. At least one
of the litigants has already begun an on-line dating

The court attributes fault to both litigants. Neither was
fully aware of the obligations and commitments required by
their marriage vows.


After considering all of the statutory criteria set forth
in Connecticut General Statutes together with applicable
case law and the evidence presented here, the court hereby
enters the following orders:

1. DISSOLUTION OF MARRIAGE: A decree dissolving the
marriage, on the grounds of irretrievable breakdown, shall

2. ALIMONY: Neither party shall pay alimony to his /her
former spouse.

3. MEDICAL INSURANCE: Both litigants shall retain their
respective medical insurance.

4. LIFE INSURANCE: Both parties shall retain their
respective life insurance policies.

5. REAL PROPERTY: The defendant shall retain his interest
in the property located on Durant Terrace in Middletown,

The residence located at 7 South View Circle in Old
Saybrook, Connecticut shall be the sole property of the
plaintiff, Brenda Nunes. CT Page 21944 The defendant shall
quitclaim his interest in the property pursuant to this

The plaintiff shall retain the building materials, with a
stipulated value of $45,000, for use in the eventual
renovation of this residence.

6. RETIREMENT ACCOUNTS: The parties shall retain their
separate retirement accounts.

7. PERSONAL PROPERTY: Except to the extent more
specifically set forth herein, each party shall retain all
assets as shown on their respective financial affidavits
free and clear of any claim or demand by the other, and
each party shall be responsible for all liabilities as shown
on their financial affidavits and shall indemnify and hold
harmless the other party from liability therefore.

A. The escrow account currently held by the litigants’
counsel shall be evenly divided.

B. Each party shall be entitled to keep the automobile
which they are currently driving free and clear of any
claims by the other, and each party shall cooperate with
the other regarding the execution of any documentation
necessary to transfer and/or register same. The plaintiff
shall retain her Subaru. The defendant shall retain his
Hondas and Ford Ranger.

C. The parties shall equally divide the remaining personal
property located in the marital homes, utilizing the
services of Family Relations to effectuate the same. With
respect to any disputes regarding tangible personal
property, the court shall retain jurisdiction to assign
ownership provided a motion is filed within sixty days of a
Family Relations mediation session requesting the court to

8. COUNSEL FEES: The litigants shall be responsible for
their own counsel fees.

9. The Court orders the return of the plaintiff’s former
name, Brenda Partyka.

10. Except to the extent more specifically set forth
herein, each order of the court is to be effectuated within
thirty (30) days of the date of this decision.

11. Each of the parties will promptly sign and deliver to
the other party free of cost and expense any documents that
may be necessary or CT Page 21945 desirable to effectuate
or implement any of the orders of this court.

Judgment shall enter in accordance with the foregoing

[fn1] The plaintiff insisted that this couple live in Old
Saybrook, a community in which she had many friends,
acquaintances and affiliations. The defendant did not
object to this choice of locations.

[fn2] Although the plaintiff testified that she objected to
the sale of her car, she nevertheless acquiesced. As a
result, she was forced to drive one of the defendant’s
vehicles, a less than desirable, virtually gutted, Honda
CRX converted for use as an off-road vehicle. The defendant
drove either his truck or his sports car. Eventually the
plaintiff purchased a replacement vehicle.

[fn3] Although the defendant testified that the Durant
Terrace property is self-supporting, his financial
affidavit reflects the contrary. This court finds that the
defendant did major renovation work on that property,
utilizing joint marital assets to effectuate the same.

[fn4] This court finds that although the plaintiff may not
have been an enthusiastic participant, she nevertheless
voluntarily chose to sell her property.

[fn5] At the time of this sale, these litigants were a
married couple. Nevertheless, the defendant suggests that
he should be reimbursed for his efforts to sell the
property. This court rejects the contention that the
defendant, and he alone, produced a higher sales price for
that real estate.

While the defendant desires and demands cash for his
efforts, he makes the extraordinary suggestion that the
plaintiff should be satisfied with the pride from her
contributions. This court will not entertain the request to
place a monetary value on the involvement of one litigant,
to the exclusion and detriment of the other.

[fn6] From the testimony of both litigants, it is clear that
the defendant viewed his funds as personal property and the
plaintiff’s funds as marital assets. For example, he
testified that the Durant Terrace property was his sole
property, but the Greenmeadow property was a joint asset.
Additionally, gifts from his parents were restricted while
gifts from the plaintiff’s family were joint property.

Even after the plaintiff filed this action, the defendant
continued to exercise control over the marital assets. He
transferred funds into a CT Page 21946 separate account,
justifying this action by the argument that the plaintiff
was dissipating marital assets. He also suggested that some
of the monies belonged to his relatives, not him. The
evidence at trial supports a contrary conclusion.

This court cannot accept the defendant’s view of the
marital income. In this short marriage, the income
subsequent to the marriage, and gifts received at the time
of the marriage, were joint property. This court includes
the cost of the wedding and reception in the definition of

[fn7] This court does not accept the defendant’s suggestion
that the contractors, including framers, provided
sub-standard work. The court does find that the defendant
changed the plans provided to these workers.

The court recognizes that the defendant has provided
estimates for the work he performed. Unfortunately he was
not an independent contractor, nor was he a licensed
electrician or plumber. He cannot be called upon to perform
services should a building inspector ultimately reject the
work. He cannot claim a contractor status for this trial.

[fn8] Rather than allow the defendant to order supplies
through personal friends (cabinets) or on-line (heating
units), the plaintiff should have put a halt to these
activities. Instead she remained silent, preferring to
trust the defendant rather than her own instincts. Although
the defendant suggested that that trust was essential, the
plaintiff should have known better.

[fn9] The plaintiff testified that she never ordered the
materials, never desired the materials, and does not want
these materials. Unfortunately, they were ordered
custom-made for this house. CT Page 21947