Friday, April 25, 2008

Court of Appeals on Contempt and Order to Pay Bill

I have to give credit to Indiana Family Law Blog for giving the heads up on Phillips v. Delks (PDF format)in the post New decision from Indiana Court of Appeals.

Husband argued the divorce argument use of "immediately" was ambiguous and could not be held in contempt. The Court of Appeals shot that argument down at pages 7 -8. Immediate is "...within such convenient time as is reasonably requisite...." Seventy days was not immediate in these circumstances.

Which is the point made by my South Bend colleague. I was puzzled reading the blog post about why husband made no argument that he lacked the funds to pay. Husband did make that argument and since the trial judge found he had sufficient income to pay the debts, he lost that argument, too. See the opinion at page 7 and see page 10 for where the Court of Appeals discussed the evidence about income.

I find the case also instructive about the damages for contempt. On this issue the Court of Appeals agreed with husband and sent the case back to the trial court for calculating damages.

But the point I want to emphasize is that husband had no attorney. Husband negotiated the divorce settlement. He had no one to counsel about the wisdom of his actions. The Court of Appeals quotes liberally from the settlement agreement and some of its terms are quite interesting and I recommend reading the agreement. However, someone needed to ask husband two questions. By not having an attorney to ask him any questions, husband blithely went forward into immortality among all the decisions of the Indiana Court of Appeals. I doubt that husband ever wanted that kind of fame.

Remember this: not having a lawyer costs more than not having one.

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