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Catalanotto v. Catalanotto

Court of Appeal of Louisiana, First Circuit

December 10, 2014

TELICIA ANN CATALANOTTO
v.
MICAH DUSTIN CATALANOTTO

APPEALED FROM THE TWENTY-FIRST JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT IN AND FOR THE PARISH OF TANGIPAHOA STATE OF LOUISIANA. DOCKET NUMBER 2007-2891, DIVISION " H" . HONORABLE ZORRAINE M. WAGUESPACK, JUDGE.

Douglas D. Brown, Hammond, Louisiana, Attorney for Plaintiff/Appellant, Telicia Ann Catalanotto Basso.

Kimberly Resetar, Jeffery Oglesbee, Albany, Louisiana and Renee S. Raborn Molland, Amite, Louisiana, Attorneys for Defendant/Appellee, Micah Dustin Catalanotto.

BEFORE: PARRO, McDONALD, AND CRAIN, JJ.

OPINION

Page 464

[2014 0708 La.App. 1 Cir. 2] McDONALD, J.

In this appeal, a mother challenges a stipulated judgment: (1) granting her former husband the right to claim their minor daughter as a dependent for tax purposes during odd numbered years, and (2) replacing the services of a parenting coordinator with the use of a co-parenting website. For the following reasons, we reverse in part and affirm in part.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Micah Catalanotto and Telicia Catalanotto, now Telicia Basso, married in 2002; became parents to a daughter, Jayde, in 2007; and divorced in 2008. Since that time, multiple judgments have been rendered addressing the respective rights of Mr. Catalanotto and Mrs. Basso regarding Jayde's custody. In April 2010, this court affirmed a July 1, 2009 judgment continuing Mrs. Basso's sole custody of Jayde and continuing Mr. Catalanotto's right to periodic, supervised visitation with Jayde. Catalanotto v. Catalanotto, 09-2158, 39 So.3d 847 (La.App. 1 Cir. 4/30/10), 2010 WL 1740601 unpublished opinion).

In 2013, Mr. Catalanotto filed a motion to modify custody, and Mrs. Basso filed a motion to substitute the parenting coordinator to whom the trial court had previously ordered the parties to report.[1] On June 28, 2013, the trial court held a hearing at which these, as well as other, issues were addressed. During Mrs. Basso's testimony, the trial court stopped the hearing, held a bench conference, and called a

Page 465

recess. When the hearing resumed, Mr. Catalanotto's attorney indicated the parties had agreed to enter into a stipulation and recited several stipulations into the record. Mrs. Basso's attorney objected to certain stipulations, the attorneys argued their respective positions, and the trial court responded to them. At the end of the hearing, the trial court directed Mr. Catalanotto's attorney to reduce the stipulations to writing; he agreed [2014 0708 La.App. 1 Cir. 3] and stated that he would forward the writing to Mrs. Basso's attorney for review.

After receiving the proposed judgment, Mrs. Basso's attorney wrote two letters to Mr. Catalanotto's attorney in early August 2013, specifically objecting to multiple portions of the document as containing language that was different from the stipulations agreed upon at the hearing. Mr. Catalanotto's attorney did not revise the proposed judgment, but instead submitted it to the trial court as originally drafted, along with copies of Mrs. Basso's attorney's objections. Mrs. Basso's attorney responded with a letter addressed to both the trial court and Mr. Catalanotto's attorney in early September 2013, again objecting to the content of the proposed judgment, and seeking a hearing to address the matter.

On September 30, 2013, the trial court signed a " Stipulated Judgment," primarily detailing Mr. Catalanotto's visitation rights with Jayde and the parties' respective holiday physical custody schedule. Of relevance here, the judgment also included: (1) an order granting Mr. Catalanotto the right to claim Jayde as a dependent for tax purposes in odd numbered years, beginning with tax year 2013; and (2) a provision replacing Dr. Steven Thompson, the parties' parenting coordinator, with the use of the " OUR FAMILY WIZARD" internet program as the means by which the parties were to discuss all matters pertaining to Jayde.

On October 8, 2013, Mrs. Basso filed a motion for new trial, arguing that the September 30, 2013 judgment was clearly contrary to the law and evidence, contained items that were not discussed at the June 28, 2013 hearing or thereafter, and also contained items that she had specifically opposed at the hearing. The trial court held a hearing on the motion for new trial, agreed to review the June 28, 2013 transcript and to draft a judgment in accordance with it, and took the matter under advisement. The parties then filed memoranda in support of their respective positions. On January 6, 2014, the trial court signed a judgment stating that it saw no reason to make changes to the September 30, 2013 judgment, because it was " in compliance with" the June 28, [2014 0708 La.App. 1 Cir. 4] 2013 hearing transcript.[2] Mrs. Basso appealed.

On appeal, Mrs. Basso contends the trial court erred by signing the disputed stipulated judgment and denying her motion for new trial, because the judgment: (1) incorrectly granted Mr. Catalanotto the tax deduction for odd years, and (2) eliminated the parenting ...


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