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Cummings v. Cummings

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division I

September 7, 2016

HARRY CUMMINGS APPELLANT
v.
REBEKAH A. CUMMINGS APPELLEE

         APPEAL FROM THE POLK COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. DR-2010-111-2] HONORABLE J.W. LOONEY, JUDGE

          Orvin W. Foster, for appellant.

          The Troutt Law Firm, by: R. Scott Troutt, for appellee.

          ROBERT J. GLADWIN, CHIEF JUDGE

         This appeal returns to our court following our order for rebriefing. See Cummings v. Cummings, 2015 Ark.App. 517. With the deficiency that necessitated rebriefing cured, we now address the merits of Harry Cummings's domestic-relations appeal. On appeal, we must decide whether the trial court erred by holding Harry in contempt and with its award of alimony to Rebekah Cummings. Finding no error, we affirm.

         I. Facts and Procedural History

         On April 23, 2010, after nearly twenty years of marriage, Harry filed a complaint for divorce from Rebekah. Rebekah answered the complaint and counterclaimed for divorce requesting temporary and permanent alimony.

         Following a final divorce trial, the trial court granted the parties' divorce and ordered their personal property divided. The trial court took the remaining issues under advisement. Later, the court issued a letter opinion outlining its ruling on the outstanding issues. For purposes of our review, we note that the trial court's letter opinion ordered (1) that the marital home would be listed with a realtor for three months, and if not sold during that time, it would be sold at auction for an amount greater than or equal to the parties' indebtedness on the house;[1] (2) that Harry pay rehabilitative alimony in the amount of $500 per month for five years commencing after the marital home was sold; and (3) that Rebekah had a fifty-percent interest in Harry's military retirement benefits. A final divorce decree memorializing the court's ruling was entered on July 19, 2011.

         The trial court entered an amended final decree on December 22, 2011, after the sale of the marital home. This decree set a date for alimony payments to commence and provided a formula for calculating the amount of Harry's retirement benefits to which Rebekah was entitled.

         On January 4, 2012, Harry filed a motion seeking to have his alimony reduced. In his motion, Harry asserted that the parties' divorce decree awarded him $15, 956 from Rebekah's share of the net sales proceeds of the house. But, based on the sales price of the house, only $3, 329.90 was available. He petitioned the court for an offset in the amount of $12, 626.10 and asked the court to reduce his rehabilitative alimony payments to $289.56 per month for five years to satisfy this amount. Rebekah objected to this, but, in a second amended final decree, the trial court ultimately reduced Harry's alimony obligation to $289.56 per month to offset the credit balance owed to him by Rebekah.

         Following the entry of the second amended final decree, an issue regarding Harry's retirement benefits arose. Around November 2012, Harry retired and, shortly thereafter, he was placed on full disability. The disability classification resulted in a loss of retirement benefits.

         On March 20, 2013, Rebekah petitioned the trial court to modify alimony to compensate for the change in Harry's retirement benefits.[2] Harry objected to any increase in alimony.

         In her motion, Rebekah also argued that Harry was not providing her with information regarding his military benefits. On October 7, 2013, the trial court ordered Harry to provide retirement information and status to Rebekah. On November 5, 2013, Rebekah filed a motion for contempt alleging that Harry had failed to comply with her requests for information.

         Ultimately, the trial court issued a letter opinion outlining its decision regarding Rebekah's alimony. The court took into account Harry's disability benefits and his lack of retirement benefits when it determined alimony.

         On May 20, 2014, the trial court entered a "Military Pension Division Order." This order directed the government to divide Harry's military benefits. According to the March 2014 letter from the court, the division was ordered in response to Rebekah's alimony request. However, the order itself does not identify the payments to ...


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