Tag Archives: Civil Contempt

Contempt attorney fees and expenses for family therapist.

Divorce TopicsContempt 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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GA Children’s extracurricular activities can encroach upon mother’s custodial time.

Denial of father’s contempt motion, affirmed, as trial court did not impermissibly modify parties’ prior divorce decree in holding that mother can use her custodial time with parties’ children in any way she deems appropriate; trial court merely clarified extent to which father’s decision-making authority with regard to children’s extracurricular activities can encroach upon mother’s custodial time.

Earle v. Earle, A11A1450 (10/18/11)

Fulton County Daily Report, November 4, 2011

GA Father In Contempt For Failing To Enroll Son In Henry County School.

Judgement modifying parties’ custody, child support and visitation and ruling that father was in contempt for failing to enroll parties’ son in Henry county school system as agreement incorporated into parties’ final divorce decree required, AFFIRMED; record supported trial court’s conclusion that father willfully failed to enroll his son in Henry county school system as  agreement required, particularly in light of his failure to communicate with child’s mother before moving child out of state and his failure to seek judicial reevaluation of custody based upon his planned move;  father’s contention that trial court ‘ “erred by relying on a facially invalid self-executing custody provision”‘ in parties agreement, REJECTED, as agreement included no such provision; father’s claim that agreement ‘ “effectively restricted him from establishing residence anyway other than Henry County” ‘ and constituted unlawful attempt to retain jurisdiction over child REJECTED, since agreement provided only that judicial reevaluation of custody would be triggered if father moved; issuance of final order modifying custody in separate action mooted father’s claim of error regarding trial court’s ex parte emergency order in contempt action; evidence supported trial court’s finding that father ‘ “fled with the child to an out-of-state undisclosed location and hid the child.  the father intentionally avoided contact with the mother for a significant amount of time;” ‘ record belied defendant’s contention that trial court concluded that defendant’s military assignment prevented him from providing stable home environment for the child.

Roberts v. Kinsey, A10A2122 (03/23/2011)

Fulton County Daily Report:  April 8, 2011


Ga Lifts Visitation Restrictions

Order lifting certain restrictions on visitation rights of mother AFFIRMED, as OCGA 19-9-3(b) authorized trial court to modify visitation rights during contempt proceeding; trial court did not abuse its discretion in modifying terms of final judgment to allow mother to resume unsupervised visitation because no evidence showed that mother was present danger to children as she testified that since her visitation rights have been restricted based on her failure to demonstrate that someone had directly witnessed her give urine sample for certain test, she had been seeing physician specializing in addiction medicine and had provided him with urine samples for testing, and no evidence showed that she actually tested positive for drugs or alcohol during prior test or at any subsequent test.

Gildar v. Gildar, A11A0759 (06/01/11)

From:  Fulton County Daily Report, (06/17/2011)

GA Child Support, Divorce, Settlement Agreement, Civil Contempt, Attorneys’ Fees, Expenses of Litigation

Judgement modifying final divorce REVERSED, as trial court erred in modifying decree in order that each ‘ “party shall pay fifity percent of all reasonable medical expenses not covered by the minor child’s medical insurance’ ” since parties settlement agreement specifically expressed that father was to be responsible and pay for all reaonable and necessary uninsured medical, dental and orthodontic expenses; trial court did not err in refusing to find father in contempt of his obligation under settlement agreement to provide health insurance for child, since trial court did not declare that obligation to provide health insurance did not exist or purport to relieve father of that obligation; trial court erred infailing to find father in contempt for failing to pay child support and to impose sanctions, since father admitted on cross examination that his counsel stipulated to amount of his arrearages and Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (“UIFSA”) did not deprive trial court of jurisdiciton over that matter as UIFSA provides that tribunal in Georgia issuing suppport order has continuing jurisdicion with respect to modificaiton of child support orders where, as here, mother and child reside in Georgia and no evidence exists that parties have filed written consents to allow another state’s tribunal to assume continuing exclusive jurisdiction; trial court erred in ruling that father was not in contempt for failing to comply with obligation to refinance 1998 Jeep Cherokee, resulting in mother being liable for 15K in outstnding debt; trial court should address issue on remand that father was in contempt for failing to comply with privision requireing him to pay mother’s divorce attorney $3,750 in attorney’s fees; trial court erred in ruling that father was not in contempt for violating privision in settlement requireing him to maintian life insurance coverage in the amount of 130K; trail court should address on remand mother’s contention that father should be held in contempt for failing to pay $228.60 of child’s uninsured medical expenses; trial court did not err in ruling that father was not in contempt for violating his  obligation to provide medial and dental insurance for child; trial court did not err in finding mother in contempt of decree for severing telephonic communication between father and child; case remanded for futher proceedings reguarding denial of mother’smotion for attorney’s fees under O.C.G.A. § 19-6-2.

Baars v. Freeman, S10A1779

From:  Fulton County Daily Report, April 1, 2011

GA trial court did not err in excluding evidence of temporary order.

Judgement, AFFIRMED, in parties’ divorce case; trial court did not err in excluding evidence of temporary order, which allowed each party to draw $2.7k per month from his/her designated account, since decision in McEachern v. McEachern, 260 Ga. 320 (1990), controlled, no evidence showed that temporary order was necessary for impeachment purposes to prevent husband from perpetrating fraud on trial court and risk of admitting order outweighted its probative value.

Horton v. Horton, S10F0827 (11/08/10), 10 FCDR 3586

From:  Fulton County Daily Report, 11/19/2010.