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Lightell v. Lightell

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fifth Circuit

December 13, 2017

DANIEL J. LIGHTELL
v.
TAMMY E. LIGHTELL

         ON APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA NO. 753-065, DIVISION "B" HONORABLE CORNELIUS E. REGAN, JUDGE PRESIDING

          COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE, DANIEL J. LIGHTELL STEPHEN R. RUE

          COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT, TAMMY E. LIGHTELL RENEE L. SWANSON

          Panel composed of Judges Susan M. Chehardy, Robert A. Chaisson, and Hans J. Liljeberg

          HANS J. LILJEBERG, JUDGE

         Appellant, Tammy E. Lightell, seeks review of the trial court's May 31, 2017 Judgment, which maintained appellee, Daniel Lightell's objection to hearing officer recommendations and found Ms. Lightell's interim spousal support award should terminate retroactive to the date of judicial demand pursuant to La. R.S. 9:321(A). For the reasons set forth more fully below, we reverse the trial court's judgment and find that pursuant to La. C.C. art. 113(B) and La. R.S. 9:321(B)(1), Ms. Lightell's interim spousal support award terminated on March 7, 2017, the date the trial court entered its judgment finding Ms. Lightell at fault for the dissolution of the marriage and therefore, ineligible for final spousal support.[1]

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         The parties married on April 30, 1982, and have four children who are all of the age of majority. On August 31, 2015, Mr. Lightell filed a petition for divorce. In response, Ms. Lightell filed an answer and reconventional demand alleging she was free from fault in the termination of the marriage and entitled to interim and final spousal support. The parties appeared before a hearing officer on October 13, 2015, who recommended that Mr. Lightell pay Ms. Lightell $4, 623.00 per month for interim spousal support effective on October 15, 2015. Mr. Lightell filed an objection to the hearing officer's recommendation and on January 25, 2016, the parties entered into a consent judgment on the record awarding Ms. Lightell $5, 000.00 per month for interim spousal support.[2] The trial court entered a written judgment on March 1, 2016.

         On February 26, 2016, Mr. Lightell filed a Motion to Place Former Family Home on the Market and Motion to Determine Fault with a Rule to Terminate Spousal Support. With respect to his request to determine fault and terminate spousal support, Mr. Lightell alleged as follows:

5. Further, Mover avers that TAMMY LIGHTELL has requested interim and final periodic spousal support.
6. Mover avers that TAMMY LIGHTELL is at fault for the termination of the marriage.
7. Accordingly, Mover seeks a hearing for purposes of determining fault and terminating spousal support.

         Mr. Lightell did not specifically seek to modify or revoke the March 1, 2016 Judgment awarding interim spousal support in this motion.

         The trial court entered a final judgment of divorce on September 8, 2016. On February 21, 2017, the parties appeared for a trial on the rule to determine fault. At the conclusion, the trial court took the matter under advisement. On March 7, 2017, the trial court rendered a judgment finding Ms. Lightell was not free from fault in the break-up of the ...


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