Appeal from the Twenty-Second Judicial District Court In and
for the Parish of St. Tammany State of Louisiana No.
2002-12211, Honorable Dawn Amacker, Judge Presiding.
Rivers Covington, Louisiana, Counsel for Plaintiff/Appellant
Burns, Jr. Covington, Louisiana, Counsel for
Defendant/Appellee Benny P. Gilardi, Sr.
BEFORE: WHIPPLE, CJ., GUIDRY, AND McCLENDON, JJ.
former spouse seeks review of a trial court judgment that
ordered her ex-husband to pay spousal support arrearages, but
limited the arrearages sought because the trial court
concluded that the former spouses had compromised all
arrearages allegedly due prior to February 2015. For the
following reasons, we amend the trial court's judgment
and affirm, as amended.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Gilardi and Benny P. Gilardi, Sr., who were married for 43
years, divorced in 2002. In accordance with a consent
judgment signed in 2002, the parties agreed that Benny would
pay Lorraine an award of final spousal support in the amount
of $150.00 per month, plus the premiums of Lorraine's
automobile and homeowner's insurance policies. The
judgment did not specify the costs of Lorraine's
automobile insurance and homeowner's insurance, given
that these premiums could change over time. Benny paid
Lorraine's automobile insurance directly to the insurance
carrier each month, and Benny paid Lorraine directly each
month for the monthly pro rata share of the annual
homeowner's insurance premium.
2016, Lorraine filed a "Rule to Compel and for
Contempt." The rule to compel concerned certain
discovery Lorraine sent to Benny arising from issues related
to a supplemental partition. Regarding the rule for contempt,
Lorraine asserted that Benny, despite being repeatedly
advised that Lorraine's homeowner's insurance had
increased, had failed to pay a sufficient amount to cover the
increased homeowner's insurance, beginning in 2010.
Lorraine alleged that if Benny continued to pay the amount he
was paying at the time the rule was filed, Benny would owe a
balance of $5, 205.55 by February 2017. Lorraine prayed
that the amount sought be made executory, and sought
attorney's fees and court costs for preparation and
prosecution of the rule.
hearing on Lorraine's rule on September 27, 2016, the
motion to compel was resolved by joint stipulation of the
parties. In connection with the motion to compel, the parties
also agreed that Benny would pay "fees of $500.00 plus
contempt hearing held that same date, Lorraine testified that
due to her strained relationship with Benny, she never
discussed spousal support with him. Rather, her friend, Tammy
McCauley, was the one who communicated with Benny regarding
the amount due for homeowner's insurance. Tammy testified
that she would meet Benny each year in February and would
show him the homeowner's bill. She further indicated that
when the homeowner's insurance increased, she would ask
Benny to pay more, and although Benny generally did pay more,
"he didn't pay enough." According to Tammy, in
February 2015, when the yearly homeowner's insurance
increased significantly, Benny stated that he would not pay
any additional amount for the homeowner's insurance.
Benny did not begin to pay the increased insurance rate of
$82.00 per month until August 2016. Moreover, Lorraine
admitted that prior to February 2015, she had never told
Benny that he was not paying the full amount due because
communications were through Tammy.
testified that he did not know how much in spousal support he
had actually paid from February 2010 through February 2015.
However, Benny testified that he paid whatever increase Tammy
told him to pay until February 2015. When Tammy told Benny
about the additional $82.00 per month increase in the
homeowner's insurance in February 2015, Benny indicated
he did not begin paying an additional amount because he had
not been shown proof of the increased sum. Benny testified
that when he was shown such proof in August 2016, he began
paying the increased amount at that time.
the hearing, the trial court found that Benny was not in
contempt of court and that he did not owe any arrearages
allegedly due prior to February 2015, insofar as those
arrearages had been compromised between the parties. However,
the trial court found that Benny owed $1, 558.00 to Lorraine,
representing the arrearages in Benny's spousal support
payments from February 2015 through the date of hearing.
Specifically, the trial court reasoned, in part:
[I]t occurs to the Court that no matter what was meant for a
period of time [by the 2002 consent judgment] ... that there
were compromises between the parties [from February 2010
through February 2015] as to how much [Benny] was ...