BARNES, P. J., MERCIER and BROWN, JJ.
Payne appeals from two separate trial court orders that (1)
resolved custody issues as to his son, B. P., and (2) found
him in contempt for failing to pay attorney fees awarded to
B. P.'s mother, Allison Myatt. For reasons that follow,
we affirm the custody determination, but reverse the judgment
was born in 2014 to Payne and Myatt. On August 10, 2017,
Payne filed a petition for legitimation and custody, seeking
to legitimate and obtain joint legal and primary physical
custody of B. P. Although Myatt did not oppose the
legitimation petition, she objected to Payne's custody
request and filed a counterclaim for child support. She also
sought an award of attorney fees.
trial court granted Payne's legitimation petition on
December 5, 2017, and entered a temporary custody order. In
March 2018, it held a final custody hearing at which
testimony and other evidence was presented. After hearing the
evidence, the trial court granted the parties joint legal
custody of B. P., but gave Myatt primary physical custody,
awarded her child support, and established a visitation
schedule. It also reserved the issue of attorney fees for
months later, on September 19, 2018, the trial court ordered
Payne to pay Myatt $15, 700 in attorney fees. Payne filed a
timely motion for new trial on October 19, 2018, challenging
the trial court's final custody determination, as well as
the attorney fee award. The following week, Myatt moved for
contempt sanctions against Payne, asserting that his failure
to satisfy the fee award constituted "willful
contempt" of the attorney fee order.
trial court held a joint hearing on Payne's motion for
new trial and Myatt's motion for contempt on November 27,
2018. In a written order entered that same day, the trial
court held Payne in contempt for failing to pay the attorney
fees. Almost two weeks later, on December 10, 2018, the trial
court entered its order denying Payne's motion for new
trial. This appeal followed.
Payne claims that the trial court erred in denying his motion
for new trial as to custody because the court granted him
"far less parenting time than what he and [B. P.] had
enjoyed since the child's birth" and failed to
consider B. P.'s best interest. Resolution of Payne's
argument, however, ultimately depends upon a review of the
evidence presented at the final custody hearing. And Payne
failed to include a transcript from that hearing in the
absence of a transcript, "we must presume that . . . the
evidence supported the trial court's ruling." In
the Interest of S. B., 242 Ga.App. 184, 188 (3) (528
S.E.2d 278) (2000) (citation omitted). Moreover, the trial
court's final custody order states that the court
considered B. P.'s best interest in resolving the custody
issue. Accordingly, this claim of error provides no basis for
reversal. See id.; see also Simmons v.
Wilson, 343 Ga.App. 857, 861 (1) (806 S.E.2d 267) (2017)
("[W]hen a transcript of the evidence is necessary and
the appellant omits it from the record or fails to submit a
statutorily authorized substitute, we must assume that the
evidence supported the contested determination.")
(citations and punctuation omitted).
Payne also argues that the trial court erred in finding him
in contempt for not paying Myatt's attorney fees. Given
the procedural posture of this case at the time of the
contempt ruling, we agree.
to OCGA § 9-11-62 (b), "[t]he filing of a motion
for a new trial . . . shall act as supersedeas unless
otherwise ordered by the court[.]" The record shows that
Payne filed a timely motion for new trial following entry of
the final order awarding attorney fees. Nothing in the trial
court's order exempted the attorney fee award from OCGA
§ 9-11-62 (b) or placed any condition on the
supersedeas. See id. ("[T]he court may
condition supersedeas upon the giving of bond with good
security in such amounts as the court may order.").
Payne's obligation to pay the fees, therefore, was stayed
pending resolution of his motion for new trial. See
id. Compare Franklin v. Franklin, 294 Ga. 204,
208 (3) (751 S.E.2d 411) (2013) (motion for new trial did not
stay enforcement of child support order where order stated
that support obligation remained in effect during appellate
appeal, Myatt claims that the trial court orally denied
Payne's motion for new trial at the joint hearing on
November 27, 2018, before considering and ruling on the
contempt motion. But "an oral pronouncement by a trial
court during a hearing is not a judgment until it is reduced
to writing and entered as a judgment." Weiss v.
Grant, 346 Ga.App. 208, 213 (2) (b) (816 S.E.2d 335)
(2018) (citation omitted). The trial court did not actually
deny Payne's motion for new trial until it entered the
written order on December 10, 2018, well after it ruled on
the motion for contempt.
OCGA § 9-11-62 (b) automatically stayed the attorney fee
award pending resolution of the motion for new trial, Payne
was not obligated to satisfy the payment obligation when the
trial court held him in contempt. See Hunnicutt
v. Hunnicutt, 248 Ga. 516, 519 (3) (283 S.E.2d 891)
(1981). The trial court's contempt ruling, therefore, was
error and must be reversed. See id.
affirmed in part ...