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Rambo v. Rambo

Supreme Court of Wyoming

March 16, 2017

KIMBERLY D. RAMBO, Appellant (Plaintiff),
v.
JEFFREY D. RAMBO, Appellee (Defendant).

         Appeal from the District Court of Teton County The Honorable Timothy C. Day, Judge

          Representing Appellant: Lea Kuvinka, Kuvinka & Kuvinka, P.C., Jackson, Wyoming.

          Representing Appellee: Heather Noble, Attorney at Law, Jackson, Wyoming.

          Before BURKE, C.J., and HILL, DAVIS, FOX, and KAUTZ, JJ.

          BURKE, Chief Justice.

         [¶1] Appellant, Kimberly Rambo ("Mother"), appeals from an order holding Jeffrey Rambo ("Father"), in contempt of court for, among other things, failing to pay child support pursuant to the parties' divorce decree. The district court ordered that, in order to purge the contempt, Father was to pay not less than $50.00 per month towards the child support arrearages. The court further ordered that interest would not accrue on the delinquent amount as long as Father made all required payments. Mother claims the district court erred by failing to enter judgment for the arrearages and by failing to impose a 10% penalty on the delinquent child support under Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 1-16-103(b). She also contends the district court erred by restricting her ability to collect past due child support. We conclude that Mother had a judgment on the child support arrears as they became due and that the district court did not have discretion to prevent Mother from executing on that judgment. We also conclude Mother is entitled to interest on the arrears. Accordingly, we reverse.

         ISSUE

         [¶2] Mother presents the following issue:

Did the district court err when it failed to treat delinquent child support as a judgment by operation of law?

         FACTS

         [¶3] Mother and Father married in California in 1994 and divorced in 2013, while residing in Teton County, Wyoming. They have two children, born in 1997 and 1999. The parties entered into a settlement agreement which gave Mother primary custody of the parties' two children, subject to Father's visitation. Father agreed to pay child support in the amount of $600.00 per month. Father subsequently relocated to California.

         [¶4] This matter began in June 2015, when Mother filed a motion for an order to show cause as to why Father should not be held in contempt of court. Mother asserted that Father had failed to pay amounts owed under the divorce decree for the children's educational expenses, health insurance, and vehicle maintenance, as well as back tax obligations and child support. Father, acting pro se, responded to the motion. He stated that he was in a "difficult, unforeseen" financial situation and agreed that he was delinquent in paying for certain expenses. Father disputed the educational expenses in light of Mother's decision to enroll their younger child in private high school. However, he agreed that he was delinquent in making child support payments, and asserted that neither party had submitted financial affidavits as required in the settlement agreement. Father also petitioned to modify child support.

         [¶5] Mother subsequently filed an amended motion for an order to show cause. Father also filed a motion for an order to show cause, asserting that Mother had violated various co-parenting provisions of the parties' settlement agreement. The court held a hearing on the cross-motions for orders to show cause and Father's petition for modification of child support in February 2016. Following the hearing, the court entered an order finding Father in contempt for failing to pay $586.71 for car tires, $15, 961.09 for a joint tax liability, $4, 087.52 for the younger child's education and extracurricular expenses, $8, 524.00 for the older child's education expenses, and $6, 942.04 for healthcare expenses. The court entered judgment on these amounts. The court also found Father in contempt for failure to pay child support. With respect to Father's child support obligations, the court stated as follows:

To purge his contempt of court with respect to child support arrears, Father shall also pay the arrears of $15, 600 (which accrued through June 2015) and additional arrears that have accrued since his motion to modify was filed in July 2015 as quickly as possible and shall pay not less than $50 per month toward arrears, in addition to his monthly child support obligation, every month until the arrears are paid in full. After the parties' youngest child turns 18 and graduates from high school (whichever is later), Father shall continue to pay $300 per month until the arrears are paid in full. To compel compliance, as long as Father makes his child support payments and the $50 payment towards arrears (or the $300 per month after SJR turns 18 and graduates from high school), no interest shall accrue because the arrears have not been reduced to judgment. If any payment is not timely made, Mother may file a motion for an entry of judgment on the remaining amount of arrears, along with proof of the remaining arrears (i.e., a report from the Clerk of District Court's office or from Child Support Enforcement Services) and a proposed order for the Court's signature. Upon entry of judgment on the remaining arrears, statutory interest of 10% on the ...

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