FROM THE PULASKI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, SEVENTEENTH DIVISION
[NO. 60-DR-13-3300] HONORABLE MACKIE M. PIERCE, JUDGE
& Stotts, PLLC, by: David W. Kamps, for appellant.
Ragon Owen, P.A., by: Sharon Elizabeth Echols and Christopher
L. Travis, for appellee.
KENNETH S. HIXSON, Judge
John Michael Peace and appellee Christina Peace (now Malin)
were divorced on October 9, 2013. The parties' property
settlement agreement was incorporated into the divorce
decree, and Paragraph 15 of the agreement provided in
The parties have not filed a tax return for tax years 2011
and 2012. The Wife agrees to file a joint return with the
Husband for these years[.] . . . If the Husband has not
submitted a joint tax return for the Wife's approval by
November 1, 2013, the Wife may file a separate tax return for
2011 and 2012. . . . The Husband accepts full
responsibility for any tax liability, including penalties and
interest, associated with the 2011 and 2012 tax returns, and
indemnifies and holds the Wife harmless from same.
30, 2015, Christina filed a motion for contempt and relief
against John. In her motion, Christina alleged that she was
unable to file her separate 2012 and 2013 tax returns until
the outstanding 2011 tax debt was paid, and that John had
advised her that he had most of the money necessary to pay
the taxes but was short $22, 000. According to
Christina's complaint, she loaned John $22, 000 to apply
to the 2011 tax debt, and after receiving a letter from the
IRS reporting an additional tax deficiency of $5186.55, she
loaned John an additional $2500 to apply to the tax debt.
Attached to Christina's motion was a copy of a $22, 000
canceled check she had written to John on November 11, 2013,
which contained the notation "2011 taxes, " and a
copy of a $2500 canceled check she had written to John on
February 20, 2014, also containing the notation "2011
taxes." Christina asserted in her motion that she had
made multiple requests for John to reimburse her these funds
but that he had refused. Christina alleged that John's
conduct constituted willful contempt of the court's order
and that he should be required to appear and show cause for
his failure to abide by the terms of the decree.
September 2, 2015, John filed a motion to dismiss
Christina's motion. In John's motion, he argued that
the trial court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction to enforce
the property settlement agreement through contempt
proceedings because Christina's claim failed to allege
that he violated any part of the agreement, and instead that
her claim was a separate action for breach of an oral
contract that had to be resolved in a separate civil suit.
John also argued, because there was no written contract for
the repayment of the alleged loan, that Christina's claim
was barred by the statute of frauds.
September 4, 2015, Christina filed an amended motion for
contempt. In her amended motion, Christina alleged that John
did not accept full responsibility for the tax liability
associated with the 2011 tax return, and that he had failed
to indemnify and hold her harmless for the 2011 tax liability
as agreed to by the parties and ordered by the trial court.
hearing on Christina's motion for contempt and John's
motion to dismiss was held on September 9, 2015. At the
hearing, Christina testified that she loaned $22, 000 to John
in November 2013 and loaned him an additional $2500 in
February 2014 so he could pay the outstanding debt on their
2011 taxes, which he agreed to pay in their property
settlement agreement. Christina asserted that she loaned this
money to John because she could not file her 2012 or 2013
taxes until the 2011 tax debt was satisfied. Christina stated
that, about a year and a half later, she asked John to pay
her back, but he refused. In John's testimony, he
acknowledged receiving a total of $24, 500 from Christina,
which he used to satisfy the parties' 2011 tax debt.
However, John maintained that there was no loan agreement and
rather that Christina simply gave him the money and told him
he did not have to pay her back. Both parties agreed that
there was nothing in writing evidencing any loan agreement
between the parties.
October 1, 2015, the trial court entered an order awarding a
judgment of $24, 500 to Christina against John, and the trial
court made the following findings:
1. The Court has jurisdiction over the parties and subject
matter. Venue is proper.
2. [John's] Motion to Dismiss is denied.
3. The parties entered into a Property Settlement Agreement
which is incorporated into their Divorce Decree. The Decree
was entered on October 9, 2013.
4. Pursuant to Paragraph 15 of the parties' Property
Settlement Agreement, [John] agreed to accept full
responsibility for any tax liability, including the penalties
and interest associated with the 2011 and 2012 tax returns