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Is there ever grounds for appealing a contempt of court final judgement

Lithonia, GA |

My ex and I went to court in 2011 and he was told that since he'd repeatedly moved further and further away from me he would now be responsible for paying for all travel for my son to visit me. He violated that order and was found in contempt of court in 2013. There were parts of the order that were ambiguous and the judge clarified those parts in her final order, but she did not change the previous order . However, the contempt was based upon parts of the order that were straightforward and my ex's own testimony. He is now saying that the judge should have asked for a financial affidavit before making her final order because he now has to pay for 11 plane tickets in a 12 month period. Was she obligated to do that? Is there grounds for an appeal

I forgot to add he's asking for a discretionary appeal

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Attorney answers 3

Posted

It's hard to say what the grounds could be. Did you have an attorney for the hearing? If so then discuss this with them. Did your ex have an attorney?

It may be your ex just trying to be difficult. If he appeals then you will get notice and you will need to respond. If he appeals then you need to hire an attorney to respond to the appeal. Until he appeals the Order stands and is enforceable.

Asker

Posted

He's trying to say that the judge errored by stating that he had to pay for all the travel expenses without considering his financial status. However, the judge did not modify a previous order. The Order that stated that he would have to pay travel was entered in 2011. This judge only clarified that order. So does that constitute an error

Posted

There are grounds to appeal contempt judgments or orders, but it's difficult to say if that is your case here without seeing the order. You would have to wait to see if your ex is going to appeal and if so, then you would need to get an appellate attorney to represent you. Appeals are difficult for lawyers who don't do them, so imagine how difficult they are for parties. An appellate attorney will help discuss a strategy for your case.

In many states, if a party moves further away continuously, that party will have to pay for the travel regardless of how much he or she is making. He is the one who moved -- you didn't, so I understand why the judge ordered it. If your ex didn't pay for it, then I understand the contempt holding as well. Just because he wants to appeal doesn't mean he will be given the right to appeal if the appeal is discretionary. Seek appellate counsel when needed, and I agree with my colleague that your ex sounds like he's trying to give you a hard time about this. That doesn't mean the order isn't valid -- it is until it's overturned, if at all -- so that's the order that everyone has to follow, including your ex. Good luck to you.

If you found my answer to be "HELPFUL," or the "BEST ANSWER," please feel free to mark it accordingly. The answers provided here do not, under any circumstances, create a lawyer-client relationship and are provided to supply a general answer based on the facts as given by the author. The above attorney is not giving advice but is answering the question in general terms. At all times, the above attorney will advise the author of the question to seek independent legal counsel. The above answers should not be relied upon by the author or by anyone else for the authoritative answer to the question; consult with your own lawyer for your legal questions.

Asker

Posted

yes my ex did file an appeal application. I do have a lawyer but I want to understand and be involved in the entire process. It's always been my premise, as well as my understanding, that the only way she would have been required to do a financial affidavit is if she modified the order and that was not the case. I have found case law on cases similar to my situation but not that is an exact match. My ex has been giving me a hard time since the day we got together so this is nothing new. Thank you for your answer

Ronna L. Deloe

Ronna L. Deloe

Posted

You're welcome. You may want to ask your attorney to let you be involved in your case. Some will welcome it, some won't. Sometimes it is difficult to find an exact case law match, called a "case on all fours" -- sometimes when we find a case that is close, we try to see if we can use an argument that makes that case fit our own. Best of luck!

Ronna L. Deloe

Ronna L. Deloe

Posted

Thanks for the helpful vote also -- much appreciated!

Asker

Posted

I did ask her. I've had to use her in two other issues before and my research was very helpful so she knows that I'm very good at it. I did find several that are very close and clarifies the point of the matter that she can use to argue against the appeal so I sent those to her and no problem on the helpful answer it was a great answer :)

Ronna L. Deloe

Ronna L. Deloe

Posted

Best of luck to you!

Posted

Rulings of the trial court in contempt actions are largely discretionary. Also, a court can clarify its previous order in a contempt order, but not if the clarification goes so far that it becomes a modification. There are no bright line rules to distinguish between permissible clarifications and impermissible modifications. The appellate court will rule based on the facts in the record.

This answer to the preceding question should not be considered legal advice to any person, including the person who asked the question. Much more specific information is required in order for the attorney to give meaningful legal advice. Any person should consult with an attorney about the specific facts in his/her case.