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.
BURKE, C.J., and HILL, DAVIS, FOX, and KAUTZ, JJ.
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.
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.
Husband presents five issues on appeal, which he states as
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
V. Did the District Court err in determining the value of the
computer awarded to [Wife]?
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
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?
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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