Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Fowles v. Fowles

Supreme Court of Wyoming

September 22, 2017

JOSEPH GARY FOWLES, Appellant (Plaintiff),
v.
KAREN RAYE FOWLES, Appellee (Defendant).

         Appeal from the District Court of Laramie County The Honorable Thomas T.C. Campbell, Judge

          Representing Appellant: Joseph Fowles, Pro se, Cheyenne, WY.

          Representing Appellee: Linda J. Steiner and Abigail E. Fournier of Steiner Law, LLC, Cheyenne, WY.

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

          HILL, Justice.

         [¶1] Joseph Fowles (Husband) and Karen Fowles (Wife) were divorced by a decree entered August 17, 2015. In September 2015, Husband and Wife filed their first round of contempt motions, each alleging the other failed to meet certain obligations imposed by the divorce decree. The district court held Husband in contempt but found insufficient evidence to hold Wife in contempt. Although only Husband was found in contempt, the court ordered both parties to complete certain obligations. Neither party appealed the first contempt order.

         [¶2] Within a few months of the district court's first contempt ruling, the parties filed a second round of contempt motions, each alleging the other violated obligations imposed by both the divorce decree and the court's first contempt ruling. The court again held Husband in contempt and found insufficient evidence to hold Wife in contempt. Husband appeals, and finding no abuse of discretion in the district court's ruling, we affirm.

         ISSUES

         [¶3] Husband presents five issues on appeal, which he states as follows:

I. Did the District Court err in not holding [Wife] in contempt for new damages to the Marital Home?
II. Did the District Court err in not holding [Wife] in contempt for delaying the sale of the home?
III. Did the District Court err in assessing immediate interest (penalty) due to contempt to the $50, 000 dollars (sic) owed when [Husband] was not in contempt?
IV. Did the District Court err in not allowing evidence to be presented?
V. Did the District Court err in determining the value of the computer awarded to [Wife]?

         [¶4] Wife states the issues on appeal more generally, asking whether the district court abused its discretion in ruling on the parties' contempt motions. She adds as a separate issue:

Should this Court certify that there was no reasonable cause for this appeal, that it was without merit, and that it was filed only to harass [Wife], delay resolution of the case, and add to the costs of the litigation, and that [Husband] failed to present a cogent argument, cite pertinent authority, or adequately cite to the record?

         FACTS

         [¶5] On August 17, 2015, the district court entered a stipulated divorce decree, which divided the parties' real and personal property and assigned responsibility for the parties' individual and joint debts and other obligations. With respect to the parties' marital home, which was their only real property, the decree provided: a. The parties own real property located at [address omitted].

b. [Husband] is awarded this real property as his sole and separate property.
c. [Husband] shall pay [Wife] $50, 000.00 for the equity in the home by June 26, 2015.
d. [Wife] shall be allowed to live in the home until forty-five (45) days after she has received $50, 000.00 for the equity in the home from [Husband]. [Husband] shall be responsible for the mortgage and any other expenses associated with the marital home, including all costs to refinance the home or have it sold.

         [¶6] On September 3, 2015, Wife filed a motion for order to show cause (contempt motion) against Husband, with an amended version filed on September 22, 2015. Wife's amended contempt motion was a forty-seven paragraph motion alleging numerous violations of the divorce decree.

         [¶7] On September 24, 2015, Husband responded to Wife's contempt motion and countered with his own contempt motion. Husband's contempt motion alleged that Wife, while in sole possession of the marital home, had intentionally damaged the home by: ripping wallpaper from the walls; removing portions of the fence; throwing couch cushions and other debris in the backyard; hoarding and throwing trash in the basement; and failing to mow the grass or change light bulbs. On October 5, 2015, Husband filed another contempt motion adding allegations that Wife violated the decree by disposing of all but five of his twenty model airplanes and by disposing of Husband's shop vac and shop tools.

         [¶8] On November 13, 2015, the district court held an evidentiary hearing on the contempt motions, and on May 25, 2016, the court issued its order. The court observed that its ability to enforce certain of the divorce decree deadlines and requirements was complicated by the fact that some of the deadlines had passed before the divorce decree had been entered by the court, and some of the requirements had no deadline. The court found no willful violations with respect to any such decree provisions, but the court did find Husband had willfully violated other decree provisions, most notably the decree's requirement that Husband refinance or sell the marital home and pay Wife for her equity interest in the property. The court found Wife "did not, for her part, take some of her obligations under the Decree as seriously as she should have, " but it was unable to conclude that she had willfully violated the decree. The court's order noted that "[t]he Court must order compliance, and insure future compliance when formulating a remedy for contempt." The court then ordered, in part:

1. Here, weighing the behavior of both parties, it is obvious the house must be sold or refinanced and the $50, 000.00 paid.
2. Overdue or unpaid obligations must be made up.
3. The proper order includes ninety (90) days to sell or refinance from the entry of this Order. If not sold or refinanced, the $50, 000.00 will be subject to ten-percent (10%) interest until paid, in addition to which, the Court reserves the right to further sanction [Husband] for delay.
5. [Wife], while not in contempt must vacate the home within forty-five (45) days of the entry of this Order to facilitate ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.