Contempt Attorney Fees and Expenses for Family Therapist: In this contempt action following entry of Dr. Scott Bowerman and Melissa Bowerman’s divorce and custody decree and subsequent related orders, the Court of Appeals reversed the grant of $5.8K in attorneys’ fees and expenses to Dr. Bowerman and the award of $3.4K in reimbursement for Dr. Bowerman’s payments to Susan Boyan, a licensed marriage and family therapist, holding that the trial court grievously erred in making such an award, since it ordered that Dr. Bowerman ‘ “[m]ay deduct the total amount, $9,200.00 from the payment of periodic alimony [$10,000 per month] at the rate of $1,500.00 per month,” ’ since, ‘ “after a decree for permanent alimony has become absolute, there is no authority given under the law by which a trial court is empowered to abrogate or modify the obligation imposed by the decree, unless such a right has been reserved by consent of the parties in the final decree itself, or an action is brought as provided under” ’ OCGA § § 19-6-18 through 19-6-25.
However, the Court rejected Melissa Bowerman’s contention that the trial court erred in finding her in contempt ‘ “by failing to articulate which specific provision of any prior order” ’ she had violated, since the trial court’s various orders incorporated the terms of the parties’ agreements, which included very specific, all-encompassing requirements, including express language of commands directed at both parties. The Court also held that the lack of a transcript prevented the trial court from reviewing Melissa Bowerman’s second and sixth enumerations of error and prevented Melissa Bowerman from showing harm from any alleged error in the trial court’s modification of summer visitation. Next, the record belied Melissa Bowerman’s contention that the trial court made any modification to the order granting equal rights to the parties, unless they are unable to agree regarding healthcare. Finally, the trial court’s order requiring Dr. Bowerman and his daughter to enter into counseling did not alter legal custody, and the Court declined to consider the daughter’s affidavit, since she did not testify at the contempt hearing, denying her father the right to cross-examine her.
For more information about the facts of this case, see: Bowerman v. Bowerman, A11A1895 (03/01/12)
Fulton County Daily Report, March 16, 2012
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