ON APPEAL fro THE TWENTY-FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT, PARISH OF JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA. NO. 610-993, DIVISION " K" . HONORABLE ELLEN SHIRER KOVACH, JUDGE PRESIDING.
H. CRAIG CABRAL, ATTORNEY AT LAW, Metairie, Louisiana, COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT.
RENEE L. SWANSON, ATTORNEY AT LAW, Gretna, Louisiana, COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE.
Panel composed of Judges Fredericka Homberg Wicker, Robert M. Murphy, and Hans J. Liljeberg.
FREDERICKA HOMBERG WICKER,
[14-493 La.App. 5 Cir. 2] This matter arises from the trial court's finding that the appellant's request for final spousal support is perempted pursuant to Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure article 561 and Louisiana Civil Code article 117. For the foregoing reasons, this Court finds that the trial court made a prejudicial error of law in her preliminary analysis of which judgment governed the support obligations between the parties. Therefore, we conduct a de novo review and find that the trial court erred by granting appellee's exception of peremption. Accordingly, we reverse the trial court's judgment and remand the matter for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Amy Steen Reggio and Richard Nicholas Reggio were married on February 15, 1992. Of this marriage, two children were born; a son in 1994 and a daughter in 1999. On August 20, 2004, Ms. Reggio filed for divorce in the 24th Judicial District Court. On September 8, 2004, the parties signed a Consent Judgment [14-493 La.App. 5 Cir. 3] wherein Mr. Reggio was ordered to pay Ms. Reggio monthly child support in the amount of $3,725 and interim spousal support in the amount of $3,275 per month.
On March 5, 2005, Ms. Reggio filed a rule to increase Mr. Reggio's child support obligation and to set final spousal support. On March 30, 2005, Mr. Reggio filed a rule to decrease his child support obligation and terminate spousal support. On May 25, 2005, the parties appeared before a Hearing Officer. The Hearing Officer issued written recommendations that Mr. Reggio pay child support in the amount of $1,993 per month and interim spousal support in the amount of $2,007 per month. Ms. Reggio filed a written objection to the Hearing Officer's recommendations. On June 28, 2005, the trial judge signed a judgment adopting the Hearing Officer's recommendations as an order of the court, pending an evidentiary hearing on Ms. Reggio's objections. On January 23, 2006, the trial court rendered a judgment ordering Mr. Reggio to pay $3,647 per month in child support and $4,000 per month in spousal support, retroactive to the date of judicial demand.
Mr. Reggio appealed the trial court's January 23, 2006 Judgment. On March 13, 2007, this Court vacated the trial court's judgment, finding that the record lacked the necessary evidence to support the trial court's award of child support and final spousal support. Following remand, neither party took any steps in the prosecution or defense of Ms. Reggio's claim for final spousal support until 2013.
On July 3, 2013, Ms. Reggio filed a motion to reset her Rule for Increase in Child Support and for Final Periodic Spousal Support originally filed on March 5, 2005. On February 24, 2014, Mr. Reggio filed a peremptory exception, claiming that Ms. Reggio's claim was procedurally barred under Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure article 561 and Louisiana Civil Code article 117.
[14-493 La.App. 5 Cir. 4] The trial court held a hearing on Mr. Reggio's exception of peremption, wherein both parties testified. Ms. Reggio urged that her claim for final spousal support was not perempted. Under Louisiana Civil Code article 117, claims for final spousal support are subject to a three year peremptive period that begins to run from the latest of three events, one of which is the last voluntary spousal support payment rendered. Ms. Reggio argued that the last binding judgment governing Mr. Reggio's support obligations is the June 28, 2005 Judgment. Under the June 28, 2005 Judgment, Mr. Reggio was obligated to pay $1,993 per month in child support. Ms. Reggio testified that between 2006 and 2013 Mr. Reggio paid significantly more than ...