Michael S. Molina v. Maria I. Tatakis, 11-P-841
The Appeals Court vacates the Probate Court’s judgment of contempt, which found the ex-Wife in contempt for failing to turn over certain tax forms to the ex-Husband. The Parties were divorced in Connecticut, but both moved to Massachusetts after the divorce. Under the original divorce agreement, Husband’s child support obligation included $307 per week, plus medical insurance and 70% of unreimbursed medical and daycare expenses. It further required the Wife to provide certain tax documents if the Husband was current on his “child support obligation.” By his own admission, he was $4,000 behind in reimbursing her for medical and daycare expenses for 2007-2009, therefore she refused to give him the tax documents. The Probate Court Judge found the Wife in contempt and reasoned that “child support” is a singular term, therefore he need not be current on all of his child support obligations. To uncover the meaning of child support, the Appeals Court looked to the intent of the parties in the original agreement. Under Connecticut law, a child support award is the entire payment obligation of the non-custodial parent. Rather than resolve the ambiguities, the Appeals Court found, in light of the ambiguities in the agreement, there could not have been a clear and undoubted disobedience of a clear and unequivocal command.