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Wilson v. Wilson

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fifth Circuit

December 29, 2017

ASHLEY O. WILSON
v.
CHRIS M. WILSON

         ON APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA NO. 627-253, DIVISION "I" HONORABLE NANCY A. MILLER, JUDGE PRESIDING

          COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF APPELLEE, ASHLEY O. WILSON STEPHEN R. RUE

          COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT APPELLANT, CHRIS M. WILSON MELVIN G. RIPP, JR.

          Panel composed of Judges Marc E. Johnson, Robert M. Murphy, and Stephen J. Windhorst

          STEPHEN J. WINDHORST JUDGE

         Appellant, Chris Wilson, appeals the trial court's November 28, 2016 judgment. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the November 28, 2016 judgment. We further affirm the April 20, 2016 interlocutory order awarding appellee attorney's fees and court costs.

         Facts and Procedural History

         The parties were married in Plaquemines Parish on August 15, 1992, and they established their domicile in Jefferson Parish. One child was born of the marriage on January 6, 1994.

         The parties physically separated on January 21, 2000. On January 18, 2006, the parties met with appellee's attorney, Nelson Cantrelle, Jr., and executed divorce pleadings. The parties then proceeded to the courthouse where appellee's La. C.C. art. 103 petition for divorce was filed.[1] The petition alleged that the parties had lived separate and apart and without reconciliation since January 21, 2000. In her prayer, among other issues, appellee requested child support in the amount of $550.00 per month. On the same day, appellant filed an answer generally denying the allegations in the petition for divorce. The parties also filed a motion to set the matter for trial on the merits which was set for January 18, 2006. Appellee waived notice of the motion to set for trial.

         On January 18, 2006, after a trial on the merits, judgment was rendered granting appellee's petition for divorce.[2] The judgment also awarded the parties joint custody of the minor child with appellee as the domiciliary parent. Appellant was ordered to pay appellee $550.00 dollars per month, plus 100% medical insurance coverage and uncovered medicals for the support of the minor child. The judgment further stated that the community assets had been amicably divided and that each party was in possession of the items belonging to him or her.

         On November 3, 2015, appellee filed a "Rule for Contempt, to Compel Payment of Child Support, Request for Attorney's fees, and Court Costs, " wherein appellee contended that appellant failed to pay any child support. The rule requested the trial court to compel appellant to immediately pay past due child support and to find appellant in contempt for failing to comply with his child support obligation. The rule further requested attorney's fees and court costs incurred for filing and prosecuting the rule.

         On December 14, 2015, appellant filed a "Rule for Contempt, Accounting for Overpayment of Child Support, Request for Attorney's Fees and Cost." In his rule, appellant argued that he paid child support in excess of $550.00 per month. He also asserted that appellee's allegation that he did not pay was a "falsehood, " and therefore appellee should be held in contempt. In response to appellant's rule, appellee filed exceptions of no cause of action and vagueness. Appellant filed a "Supplemental and Amending Rule." On February 3, 2016, after a hearing, the domestic commissioner granted appellee's exceptions and dismissed appellant's rule for contempt.[3] Subsequently, appellee filed a motion to compel discovery responses and requested attorney's fees and costs. On April 20, 2016, the trial court granted appellee's motion to compel discovery and ordered appellant to respond within 15 days. The trial court further awarded $500.00 in attorney's fees and court costs.

         On February 4, 2016, the parties appeared before the hearing officer on appellee's rules filed November 3, 2015. The parties stipulated that "the braces & health insurance payments are required by Judgment. Chris Wilson retracts his claim for reimbursement for payment of expenses for the child after she became a major." The hearing officer recommended that the parties testify as to whether payments made by appellant for tuition, cheerleading, purchase of car, and car insurance should be credited toward child support payments. Appellee objected to the hearing officer's recommendation. The trial court heard appellee's rules for contempt and to compel payment of past due child support on May 18, 2016. On November 28, 2016, the trial court rendered judgment: (1) finding that the January 18, 2006 judgment remained in full force and effect and had not been modified, reduced, or terminated by a court, nor had there been any extrajudicial modification of the judgment; ...


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