SPEZIALE, C. J.
This is an appeal by the defendant-husband from the denial of a post-judgment motion to enforce a pretrial agreement between the parties. The dissolution of marriage judgment itself has not been appealed. The defendant contends that the trial court erred in interpreting the pretrial agreement in such a way as to render it unenforceable in the circumstances of this case. Before we can reach that issue, however, we must first determine whether the pretrial agreement, which by its terms specifically provided that it be concealed from the trial court, is void as against public policy.
This dissolution of marriage action was commenced by the plaintiff in December, 1977. In July,
The dissolution of marriage action was tried in October, 1979 by the Hon. William L. Tierney, Jr., state referee. Judgment was rendered on February 14, 1980. The judgment dissolved the marriage, ordered joint custody of the minor children, adopted the defendant's proposal regarding support for the children, but awarded no alimony. The trial court concluded, however, for reasons not relevant here, that the plaintiff was entitled to a share of the defendant's assets. Consequently, the defendant was ordered to convey to the plaintiff his interest in two commercial properties in Tarrytown
On April 24, 1980, the defendant filed a motion to implement the terms of the pretrial agreement between the parties. On September 30, 1980, the trial court, after expressing displeasure that the agreement had been concealed from it,
It is well settled in Connecticut that agreements, such as the one involved in this case, "when made not to facilitate divorce but solely as an amicable
"The safeguard for the public policy against collusive separation agreements rests in the process by which separation agreements are incorporated into decrees of dissolution of marriage. Under our statutes, a court has an affirmative obligation, in divorce proceedings, to determine whether a settlement agreement is `fair and equitable under all the circumstances.' General Statutes § 46b-66. The presiding judge has the obligation to conduct a searching inquiry to make sure that the settlement agreement is substantively fair and has been knowingly negotiated. Monroe v. Monroe, 177 Conn. 173, 183-84, 413 A.2d 819, cert. denied, 444 U.S. 801,
The agreement in this case by its own terms specifically provided that it be concealed from the trial court. It is contrary to public policy and, therefore, void and unenforceable.
The defendant suggests that any concealment problem was overcome by the disclosure of the agreement to Judge Novack as part of the hearing on the plaintiff's motion to compel the defendant to answer questions about the agreement. Such an argument, however, misses the mark. The point of the rule discussed above is the disclosure of the agreement to the trial judge so that he or she may reach an informed judgment based upon an accurate and complete record. It is irrelevant that some other judge may have been aware of or even approved of such an agreement, because the agreement is against public policy so long as it is concealed from the trial court.
The problems in this case, however, go deeper than just the improper concealment of the agreement from the trial court. As a consequence of the agreement, both parties filed inaccurate and misleading
Although the trial court expressed proper concern regarding the actions of the parties, the court erred by not taking the appropriate action. The trial court in a dissolution of marriage action sits as a court of law and of equity and it is incumbent upon the parties to disclose fully to the court all relevant information. Thus, when it became clear to the trial court that the agreement had been concealed from it and that the parties had filed inaccurate and misleading financial affidavits, the court, at the very least, should have ordered sua sponte that the judgment be opened for the purpose of rehearing the financial and property issues.
There is error and the case is remanded to the trial court with direction that the dissolution of marriage judgment be set aside as to the financial and property dispositions and that a new trial be ordered on these issues.
In this opinion the other judges concurred.
"AGREEMENT AND STIPULATION
"The undersigned stipulate and agree as follows:
"1. The Defendant shall be entitled to a $312,500 credit against any final judgment as a result of his relinquishment to Plaintiff of his right to acquire an interest in the Hornell Shopping Center, against any amounts paid or payable by the Defendant to the Plaintiff in any given calendar year to the extent that said payments exceed $110,000 during such year. Said payments shall include lump sum alimony, periodic alimony, unallocated alimony and support and child support. As to any lump sum payment payable in less than five (5) years, the total of such lump sum payment shall be divided into five (5) equal payments for the computation of the above: For example: A lump sum of $600,000 payable over a three (3) year period shall be recalculated for purposes hereof to be $120,000 a year for each of five years. The credit provided herein shall not be deemed to be taxable to the wife.
"2. This agreement shall not be referred to in any way by the parties in connection with divorce or dissolution of marriage proceedings but shall be filed with the Court in such proceedings at any time after the entry of final judgment. The Plaintiff in filing her financial affidavit in this action may show the Hornell Shopping Center as an asset valued after deducting the credit without reference to the credit. Neither party shall introduce any evidence to the Court of the nature or the amount of the credit except as provided herein. "3. If for any reason whatsoever the lease with K-mart Corporation does not take effect and the lessee thereunder does not take possession of its demised premises and pay the first installment of rent, then, and in such event, the dollar amount set forth in the above paragraph 1 shall not be applicable and the parties shall be governed thereafter by their present agreement as to Hornell.
"4. This stipulation shall bind the heirs, executors, administrators and personal representatives of the respective parties hereof.