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Taylor v. Taylor

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, First Circuit

September 15, 2017

SEANICE ETIENNE TAYLOR
v.
SENECA LEONARD TAYLOR

         Appealed from the Family Court In and for the Parish of East Baton Rouge State of Louisiana Case No. F179092 The Honorable Pamela J. Baker, Judge Presiding

          Scott M. Hawkins R. Chris Oetjens Baton Rouge Louisiana Counsel for Defendant/ Appellant Seneca Leonard Taylor

          Scott M. Hawkins R. Chris Oetjens Baton Rouge Louisiana Counsel for Defendant/ Appellant Seneca Leonard Taylor

          Charlotte Bordenave New Iberia, Louisiana Counsel for Plaintiff/Appellee Seanice Etienne

          BEFORE: McCLENDON, HIGGINBOTHAM, CRAIN, THERIOT, AND CHUTZ, JJ.

          THERIOT, J.

         The defendant-appellant, Seneca Leonard Taylor, appeals a judgment rendered by the Family Court for the Parish of East Baton Rouge ("the Family Court") in favor of the plaintiff-appellee, Seanice Etienne, granting Ms. Etienne's rule for spousal support arrearages and finding Mr. Taylor in arrears for unpaid spousal support in the sum of $25, 280.00. For the following reasons, we vacate and remand.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Mr. Taylor and Ms. Etienne were married in September of 2002. On March 17, 2011, Ms. Etienne filed a petition for divorce against Mr. Taylor in accordance with La. C.C. art. 103(1). Ms. Etienne was granted an absolute divorce from Mr. Taylor by judgment signed on March 31, 2011. Ms. Etienne did not make a claim for spousal support in her petition for divorce, and the judgment of divorce does not contain any order pertaining to spousal support. On June 15, 2016, Ms. Etienne filed a rule for spousal support arrearages against Mr. Taylor. Ms. Etienne claimed she and Mr. Taylor had entered into a post-nuptial contractual agreement settling all matters incidental to their divorce ("the marital settlement agreement"). Ms. Etienne alleged that Mr. Taylor was thereby contractually obligated to pay spousal support to her in the amount of $1, 000.00 per month or 33% of his net pay per month, whichever is greater. Ms. Etienne claimed Mr. Taylor failed to satisfy his support obligation and was in arrears, as of the date of the filing, in the sum of $47, 280.00. Ms. Etienne prayed, inter alia, that the Family Court find Mr. Taylor in arrears and order him to pay her the past-due amount, plus legal interest.

         Ms. Etienne's rule for spousal support arrearages came before the Family Court for a hearing on July 5, 2016. Ms. Etienne was the only person to appear before the Family Court at the hearing. In open court, the Family Court found that, based upon the arrearage worksheet compiled by Ms. Etienne and the terms of the marital settlement agreement, the total amount payable to Ms. Etienne was $36, 000.00. The Family Court further found that Mr. Taylor had already paid $10, 720.00 of this sum. The Family Court thus ruled that spousal support arrearages be set in the total amount of $25, 280.00, plus legal interest. That same day, on July 5, 2016, the Family Court signed a written judgment ordering that spousal support arrearages be set in the amount of $25, 280.00, together with legal interest on each payment on the date due until paid; ordering that the spousal support arrearage be made executory; ordering that an income assignment order be issued immediately for the payment of spousal support arrearages; and ordering that Mr. Taylor be cast with court costs. Mr. Taylor now appeals.

         ASSIGNMENTS OF ERROR

         Mr. Taylor raises the following assignments of error:

1. The Family Court erred in granting spousal support when no demand for spousal support was made.
2. The Family Court erred in granting an order of arrearages when no judgment of spousal ...

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