Post-judgment interest for delayed QDRO transfer: Anketell v. Kulldorff 223 Conn. App. 345 (2023)

Post-judgment interest for delayed QDRO transfer: Anketell v. Kulldorff 223 Conn. App. 345 (2023)

Anketell v. Kulldorff 223 Conn. App. 345 (2023) (post-judgment interest for delayed QDRO transfer)

Officially released January 16, 2024

In Short: An award of post-judgment interest by the trial court, pursuant to C.G.S. § 37-3a, was an appropriate equitable remedy for a prolonged delay in the transfer of retirement assets.

The parties married in 2011 and were divorced after a two-day trial in 2018.  The trial court ordered that Husband transfer $175,000 to Wife from retirement accounts of his choice by QDRO, subject to adjustment for gains or losses prior to the Judgment.  Husband previously appealed issues unrelated to his retirement, unsuccessfully, which appeal took years to conclude.

In 2022, Wife filed a post-judgment motion to implement the court orders.  This was followed by a motion for clarification as to whether the award was to be adjusted for gains and losses until date of transfer and requesting statutory interest if it is not subject to adjustment for gains and losses.

An evidentiary hearing was held in 2022. The trial court clarified that gains and losses were only intended through date of dissolution, but found that Defendant’s appeal of the judgment and further delays served to stay the transfer and use of funds for forty-six months.  The trial court found that C.G.S. § 37-3a provided an equitable and appropriate remedy and awarded 5% interest (rather than the maximum 10% permissible under statute) for the wrongful detention of the monies.  The trial court awarded additional prospective interest in the event of any future delay.

Husband appealed the award of interest, specifically for the time period after the prior appeal had ended.  Husband argued that Wife’s attorneys were responsible for the delay.

The Appellate Court applied the abuse of discretion standard to the interest award pursuant to C.G.S. § 37-3a.  The Appellate Court noted that the statute does not use the word “wrongful” although prior Supreme Court cases have regularly employed the term.  In analyzing what evidence, if any, of “wrongfulness” is required, the Appellate Court determined that it is sufficient to prove the underlying legal claim, namely, that money was due but was not paid.

The Appellate Court declined to review materials in Husband’s appendix which were not part of the record and found no abuse of discretion by the trial court.  Wife had lost the use of the $175,000 for a substantial period of time from its intended transfer date, and that was sufficient to support a wrongful detention for purposes of C.G.S. § 37-3a.  There was no evidence in the record to support the claim that Wife had refused to accept the money.

The Appellate Court also rejected Husband’s claim as to an award of future interest, in the event of a future unnecessary delay in the QDRO.  Such future award would still not be self-executing and would require findings as to the responsibility of any unnecessary delay, and such determination has not yet been made.

The Judgment was affirmed.

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