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Tidwell v. Tidwell

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

June 21, 2017

ASHLEE TIDWELL, Plaintiff-Appellant
v.
TODD MICHAEL TIDWELL, Defendant-Appellee

         Appealed from the Fourth Judicial District Court for the Parish of Ouachita, Louisiana Lower Court Case No. 2013-1222 Honorable Alvin R. Sharp, Judge

          DONALD L. KNEIPP Counsel for Appellant

          LAW OFFICES OF MASON L. OSWALT By: Mason L. Oswalt Counsel for Appellee

          Before BROWN, PITMAN, and COX, JJ.

          PITMAN, J.

         Plaintiff-Appellant Ashlee Tidwell appeals the trial court's judgment in favor of Defendant-Appellee Todd Michael Tidwell. For the following reasons, we affirm.

         FACTS

         The parties married in October 1995 and had two daughters. On April 16, 2013, Ms. Tidwell filed a petition for divorce under La. C.C. art. 102 and sought child custody, child support, interim and final spousal support and partition of community property. Mr. Tidwell filed an answer and reconventional demand under La. C.C. art. 103, alleging that Ms. Tidwell committed adultery and was at fault for the breakdown of the marriage.

         In February 2014, the parties entered into a joint stipulation and consent judgment and resolved the issues of child support, child custody and interim spousal support. Relevant to this appeal, the parties agreed that Mr. Tidwell would pay interim spousal support to Ms. Tidwell in the amount of $1, 800 per month, retroactive to May 1, 2013; that Mr. Tidwell would pay the house note on the former matrimonial domicile (the "Domicile") and the car note on the 2010 Chevrolet Suburban (the "Suburban") for the duration of the interim spousal support award period; and that Ms. Tidwell would have exclusive use of the Domicile and of the Suburban. They also agreed that Mr. Tidwell's claim for rental value of Ms. Tidwell's exclusive use of the Domicile should be deferred to be considered in the community property partition.

         On March 5, 2014, Ms. Tidwell filed a rule to show cause why permanent spousal support should not be awarded.

         Following a hearing on the rule for divorce, the trial court determined that Mr. Tidwell proved that Ms. Tidwell committed adultery. On March 24, 2014, the trial court rendered judgment in favor of Mr. Tidwell and granted a divorce based upon adultery. Ms. Tidwell appealed. In Tidwell v. Tidwell, 49, 512 (La.App. 2 Cir. 11/19/14), 152 So.3d 1045, this court affirmed the judgment of the trial court.

         On October 3, 2014, Ms. Tidwell filed a rule to show cause and for contempt. She alleged that Mr. Tidwell had made sporadic spousal support payments since May 1, 2013, and contended that she was entitled to be paid the balance of the arrearages with interest, attorney fees and court costs. She also alleged that Mr. Tidwell advised her that he would stop paying interim spousal support because the divorce was granted based on adultery. She further alleged that he violated the terms of the consent judgment that she would have exclusive use of the Domicile when he entered the Domicile when she was not present and removed items. She requested that the trial court hold Mr. Tidwell in contempt of court for failing and refusing to pay interim spousal support and for violating the terms of the consent judgment regarding use of the Domicile.

         On January 20, 2015, Mr. Tidwell filed a motion for the exclusive use of the Domicile and the Suburban. He noted that the divorce was finalized on March 24, 2014, and that his interim spousal support obligation terminated on September 24, 2014. He stated that, since September 24, 2014, Ms. Tidwell had refused to pay the house and car notes even though she was living in the Domicile and had exclusive use of the Suburban. He further stated that he continued to pay those notes because his credit would be negatively affected if the debts were not paid. He contended that, due to Ms. Tidwell's refusal to pay the house and car notes, he should be granted exclusive use of the Domicile and the Suburban.

         On February 3, 2015, Ms. Tidwell filed a first supplemental and amended rule to show cause and for contempt. She acknowledged that a judgment of divorce based on adultery was filed on March 24, 2014, and that Mr. Tidwell stopped paying interim spousal support as of September 30, 2014. She noted that she filed a suspensive appeal of the divorce judgment on March 28, 2014, and that the court of appeal rendered judgment on November 19, 2014. She contended that the judgment of divorce did not become final until November 19, 2014, and, therefore, she was entitled to receive interim spousal support payments and that Mr. Tidwell was required to pay the house and car notes until May 19, 2015, i.e., 180 days from November 19, 2014. She argued that Mr. Tidwell was in arrears on the interim spousal support payments because he had not paid support from October 2014 to January 2015. She alleged that Mr. Tidwell entered the Domicile on an additional occasion while she was not home. She reiterated her request that the trial court hold Mr. Tidwell in contempt of court for failing and refusing to pay interim spousal support and for violating the terms of the consent judgment regarding use of the Domicile.

         A conference before a hearing officer was held on December 2, 2015, who recommended in his report that Ms. Tidwell's rule of final spousal support should be dismissed; Mr. Tidwell's rule for exclusive use of the Suburban is moot and should be dismissed; Mr. Tidwell's rule for exclusive use of the Domicile should be dismissed; Ms. Tidwell's rule to have Mr. Tidwell ordered to pay interim spousal support through May 19, 2015, is moot and should be dismissed; Ms. Tidwell is entitled to past-due interim spousal support payments; Mr. Tidwell be held in contempt ...


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