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Johnson v. Johnson

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

May 8, 2019

ELLA WALKER JOHNSON
v.
GLENN R. JOHNSON, SR.

          APPEAL FROM THE SIXTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF IBERIA, NO. 124282 HONORABLE LORI A. LANDRY, DISTRICT JUDGE

          Dean J. Guidry Attorney at Law COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT: Ella Walker Johnson

          Glenda Maria August Attorney at Law COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE: Glenn R. Johnson, Sr.

          Court composed of Ulysses Gene Thibodeaux, Chief Judge, Shannon J. Gremillion, and John E. Conery, Judges.

          SHANNON J. GREMILLION, JUDGE

         The plaintiff/appellant, Ella Walker Johnson, appeals the trial court's judgment terminating interim and permanent spousal support. For the following reasons, we reverse and render.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Ella filed for divorce from the defendant/appellee, Glenn Johnson, Sr., on April 10, 2014. Following an August 2014 conference, the hearing officer recommended that Glenn pay interim periodic support in the amount of $1, 300.00 per month, retroactive to the date of demand. The hearing officer's recommendations were adopted as the final judgment of the trial court on September 11, 2014.

         On October 17, 2014, Ella filed a "Motion and Order for Rule for Judgment of Past Due Alimony, Contempt, and Attorney Fees" claiming that Glenn was in arrears for $8, 450.00 for failing to pay support from April 2014 through October 2014. A hearing officer conference took place in November 2014. The hearing officer's recommendations found Glenn in arrears in the amount of $6, 760.00, and in contempt for failing to comply with the court order to maintain Ella's auto insurance. The hearing officer sentenced Glenn to thirty days in jail but suspended the sentence if certain financial conditions were met. Glenn and Ella both filed objections to the hearing officer's recommendations. Thereafter, Glenn filed a rule to show cause why divorce should not be granted. A judgment of divorce was granted and signed on February 4, 2015.

         On March 23, 2015, Ella and Glenn entered into a "Consent Judgment," whereby Glenn was subject to an income assignment order in the amount of $1, 200.00 per month "for the payment of the interim spousal support obligation."[1]The consent judgment suspended the thirty-day sentence imposed on Glenn for contempt. It also included other conditions Glenn had to meet in order to make his past due arrearages current.

         On June 13, 2018, Glenn filed a "Rule for Termination or Reduction of Spousal Support Payments to Ella Walker Johnson" due to job loss and a significant reduction in his monthly pay beginning in December 2016. Glenn prayed that "the payments for spousal support, previously ordered on March 23, 2015 . . . be eliminated; and, alternatively, that the amounts which Mover has been ordered to pay be eliminated or substantially reduced."

         Following a July 24, 2018 conference, the hearing officer made certain findings of fact including that:

1.Plaintiff seeks final periodic spousal support. Defendant seeks to terminate the interim periodic spousal support, and he also submits that Plaintiff does not need final periodic spousal support and/or that he cannot afford to pay it.
2. The Hearing Officer notes that the finding and recommendations herein are strictly limited to whether Plaintiff has a need for final periodic spousal support, and whether Defendant has the ability to pay same[.]

         The hearing officer's recommendation was that Glenn pay $300.00 per month in "final periodic support." Both parties objected to ...


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