BRADLEY J. RIGDON, Appellant (Defendant),
WENDY M. RIGDON, Appellee (Plaintiff).
from the District Court of Fremont County The Honorable
Norman E. Young, Judge
Representing Appellant: Collin C. Hopkins, The Law Offices of
Collin Hopkins, PC, Riverton Wyoming.
Representing Appellee: Lisa Anne Kisling, Legal Aid of
Wyoming, Inc., Lander, Wyoming.
DAVIS, C.J., and BURKE [*] , FOX, KAUTZ and BOOMGAARDEN, JJ.
Appellant, Bradley J. Rigdon, challenges the district
court's order holding him in contempt for failing to
comply with the parties' divorce decree. We affirm.
Mr. Rigdon presents two issues, which we rephrase:
1. Was Ms. Rigdon's contempt claim against Mr. Rigdon
barred by res judicata?
2. Did the district court abuse its discretion by finding Mr.
Rigdon in contempt for failing to comply with the divorce
Ms. Rigdon filed for a divorce from Mr. Rigdon on December 7,
2015. Along with the filing of the complaint, Ms. Rigdon
sought and obtained a temporary restraining order enjoining
the parties from disposing of any property of the parties
during the pendency of the divorce proceedings. Trial was
held on April 3, 2017. Ms. Rigdon appeared personally,
represented by counsel, and she was the only witness. Mr.
Rigdon did not appear, but was represented by counsel, who
cross-examined Ms. Rigdon. The district court took the matter
under advisement and subsequently entered the "Decree of
Divorce" on May 12, 2017. In the decree, Mr. Rigdon was
ordered to pay monthly child support, to reimburse Ms. Rigdon
for a tax debt, and to transfer to Ms. Rigdon a "silver
coin collection" and "all of the investment gold
and/or silver" in his possession. Mr. Rigdon filed a
notice of appeal challenging the property distribution, but
later withdrew his appeal.
On June 12, 2017, Ms. Rigdon filed a "Motion for an
Order to Show Cause," seeking an order requiring Mr.
Rigdon to show cause why he should not be held in contempt
for violating the divorce decree by failing to pay child
support, pay the tax reimbursement, and transfer the gold and
silver. Mr. Rigdon responded by filing an answer, in which he
asserted that he was current on his child support payments,
but his payments were not properly credited because he paid
Ms. Rigdon directly rather than through the State's child
support system. He further asserted that he was "trying
to gather the money" to pay the tax reimbursement, and
denied that his lack of payment was willful. He also asserted
that the "silver has been delivered. There is no
gold." Two days prior to the hearing, Mr. Rigdon
filed an "Admission of Nonpayment, Acceptance of Finding
of Contempt, Motion for Opportunity to Purge Contempt Finding
and Motion to Vacate Hearing." In this pleading, he
admitted he was "technically in contempt" for being
behind on child support payments and failing to pay the tax
reimbursement. He claimed that he had returned the silver to
Ms. Rigdon and, once again asserted that "there never
was any gold." On that same day, he also filed an
affidavit stating that "there is no gold." There
was no certificate of service attached to the affidavit. In
his admission, Mr. Rigdon sought a continuance of the
scheduled hearing and an opportunity to purge any finding of
Mr. Rigdon's efforts to delay the hearing were
unsuccessful and the matter proceeded to hearing. Again, Mr.
Rigdon did not appear, but was represented by counsel. Ms.
Rigdon was the only witness.
Following the hearing, the district court entered a
"Judgment and Order Finding Defendant in Contempt of
Court." It found Mr. Rigdon in contempt for failing to
pay child support, failing to pay the tax reimbursement, and
"failing to turn over any and all investment gold and/or
silver." The district court also provided Mr. Rigdon the
opportunity to purge himself of contempt by paying the
arrearage in child support and the tax reimbursement by
September 11, 2017. The court ordered Mr. Rigdon to turn over
the investment gold and silver to Ms. Rigdon within ten days.
"In lieu thereof," the court ordered, "[Mr.
Rigdon] shall personally appear before this Court ...