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.

Dingle v. Carter

Court of Appeals of Georgia, Second Division

April 24, 2019

DINGLE
v.
CARTER.

          MILLER, P. J., RICKMAN and REESE, JJ.

          Rickman, Judge.

         Dhane Brooks Dingle ("the mother") and Horacio Carter ("the father") filed cross-motions for contempt alleging violations of certain provisions of the trial court's order governing custody of their minor child, child support, and attorney fees. Following a hearing, the trial court held the mother in contempt and made several other rulings. On appeal, the mother contends that the trial court erred by holding her in contempt for failing to notify the father of her deployment overseas, holding that the trial court lacked the authority to determine if the mother's attorney fee award was a dischargeable debt of the father's bankruptcy filing, abating a portion of the father's child support obligation, and awarding attorney fees to the father pursuant to OCGA §§ 9-15-14 and 19-6-2. For the following reasons, we affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand the case to the trial court.

         The record shows that prior to 2014, the father had physical custody of the child. In 2014, the mother filed a motion for modification of custody and the trial court entered a final order finding that it was in the best interest of the child to grant the mother primary physical custody of the child and grant the father "liberal visitation." (the "Final Order"). The mother was employed by the United States Army, and the trial court detailed in its order what should happen regarding custody of the child in the event of the mother's deployment: In the event the mother was deployed, the father would become the child's temporary guardian. The mother would be required to notify the father of her impending deployment within 14 days of receiving her deployment orders or, if the orders did not allow for 14 days notice, immediately upon receiving notice of her deployment. If the father was unable to become the child's temporary guardian, the mother was to designate another family member to assume the role.

         The Final Order also required the father to pay child support to the mother every month and to maintain a life insurance policy naming the child as the beneficiary. The issue of attorney fees was reserved, and approximately seven months later, the trial court ordered the father to pay $30, 000 in attorney fees to the mother's attorney.

         In June 2015, the mother filed a motion to hold the father in contempt for failing to pay child support and obtain the required life insurance policy. Subsequently, the trial court entered an order holding the father in contempt. That contempt order was vacated by the trial court, however, due to an issue with service of process.

         Over a year later, the father filed a motion to hold the mother in contempt for, inter alia, failing to notify him of her deployment overseas. Thereafter, both parties amended their motions for contempt alleging that the other party violated various provisions of the Final Order and including the mother's contention that the father be held in contempt for failure to pay the ordered attorney fees.

         Following a hearing, the trial court issued an order holding the mother in contempt for failing to notify the father about her deployment (the "Contempt Order"). In the Contempt Order, the trial court also held that it lacked the authority to determine if the mother's attorney fee award constituted a dischargeable debt in the father's bankruptcy, abated a portion of the father's child support obligation, and awarded attorney fees to the father pursuant to OCGA §§ 9-15-14 and 19-6-2.

         1. The mother contends that the trial court erred by holding in her contempt for failing to notify the father about her deployment.

The question of whether a contempt has occurred is for the trial court, and its determination will be overturned only if there has been a gross abuse of discretion. Therefore, if there is any evidence to support the trial court's determination that a party has wilfully disobeyed its order, the court's finding of contempt will be affirmed on appeal.

(Citation and punctuation omitted.) Brochin v. Brochin, 294 Ga.App. 406, 409 (2) (b) (669 S.E.2d 203).

         Here, in its Final Order, the trial court ordered the mother to notify the father of her impending deployment within 14 days of receiving her deployment orders or, if the orders did not allow for 14 days notice, immediately upon receiving notice of her deployment. At the hearing on the parties' motions for contempt, the mother admitted that she did not notify the father about her deployment. The mother testified that she received her deployment orders in April 2016; however, the father did not learn of her deployment until July 2016 when the mother's attorney sent him a letter notifying him that the mother was deployed. At that point, the mother had already been deployed to Iraq. Accordingly, we find that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in holding the mother in contempt for failing to notify the father about her deployment. See Brochin, 294 Ga.App. at 409 (2) (b) (i) (holding that the evidence supported the trial court's finding of contempt where the mother admitted that she failed to return the children to the father after her summer visitation as required by the custody order).

         2. The mother contends that the trial court erred by holding that it was without authority to determine if the mother's attorney fee award was a dischargeable debt in the father's bankruptcy.

         In July 2015, the father filed a petition in federal court for bankruptcy. The mother's attorney was listed as a creditor. Approximately six weeks after the father filed his petition for bankruptcy, the trial court ordered the father to pay $30, 000 in attorney fees to the mother's attorney. The mother concedes in her brief to this Court that her counsel received notice that the father filed for bankruptcy prior ...


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.