Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

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.

Wyatt v. Wyatt

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division I

February 21, 2018



          Cullen & Co., PLLC, by: Tim J. Cullen, for appellant.

          Robert A. Newcomb, for appellee.


         This is an interlocutory appeal challenging the Faulkner County Circuit Court's order finding Terry Wyatt in civil contempt. The contempt finding stems from Terry's failure to comply with the circuit court's January 2016 order in his divorce from his ex-wife Lorene. The primary inquiry on appeal is whether the circuit court erred by finding that Terry had the ability to pay or make a credible attempt to pay the judgment awarded to Lorene. We affirm.

         The Faulkner County Circuit Court entered an order and judgment in Lorene and Terry's divorce action in January 2016. The order awarded Lorene a substantial judgment against Terry, and one month after entry of the order, Lorene filed a motion for contempt. She asked that Terry be held in civil contempt and jailed until he complied with the circuit court's order. Terry resisted Lorene's motion arguing that he was not in willful contempt because he lacked the means or ability to comply with the order.

         On May 31, 2016, the circuit court held a hearing on Lorene's motion for contempt. Also addressed was Terry's request for a waiver of the requirement for a supersedeas bond. At the hearing, it was established that Terry had not paid any alimony, had not paid any money toward the judgment entered against him, and was paying child support in the amount previously ordered by the circuit court and not his current obligation-$136 a week instead of the ordered $443 a week. Thus, it became Terry's burden to prove that he was unable to comply with the terms of the January 2016 order. Because the primary issue on appeal is whether Terry had the ability to pay is fact-intensive, a detailed synopsis of the evidence presented at the May 31 hearing is necessary.

         Terry testified that he worked for A-1 Recovery Towing & Recovery, Inc., which was owned by Gerald Kennon, through August 2016. At that time, he began working for Cenark Construction, a company owned by his sons. He worked for Cenark Construction until February 2017, and he has been self-employed since that date. Additionally, Terry testified at length that he was unable to pay the judgment against him. He stated that he has no real property, cannot get a bond, and has numerous creditors, including the IRS.

         By contrast, the evidence demonstrated that Terry continued to live a lifestyle comparable to the one he enjoyed prior to the divorce. He lived at 56 Wyatt Lane-the house he lived in during the divorce proceedings. Although he stated that his sons live with him and pay the rent. He also drove the same vehicle, but he claimed Gerald Kennon owned the vehicle and paid the insurance and tags on it and that he paid the $794 monthly payment. Additionally, Terry took a ski vacation; he testified that his sons paid for the vacation.

         Evidence was also elicited that Terry had paid $25, 000 to appeal the circuit court's January 2016 order. Terry said he borrowed this money from his sister. In addition, $175, 000 was paid to settle Terry's bankruptcy proceeding. The language in the order provided that the debtor shall pay to receive a discharge. However, Terry and Gerald Kennon testified that it was Gerald who paid the $175, 000 and not Terry.

         Other relevant evidence included the disclosure that Amanda Mauser-an employee of his sons' corporations-was performing the task of mailing his weekly child-support payments and doing other personal business for him, including his tax returns. Terry testified that Mauser was not his employee and that he did not pay her.

         Terry also admitted that 56 Wyatt Lane was searched by law enforcement and $20, 000 cash was found in a safe. This money came from the sale of an excavator that a corporation owned. Terry admitted that he had the check made payable to him personally and then cashed it because the corporation had numerous judgments against it and he wanted to receive the benefit of the sale.

         At the conclusion of the hearing, the circuit court announced from the bench that Terry was in contempt of court. In its announcement, the circuit court made clear that Terry lacked credibility, and it emphasized that Terry continued to maintain the lifestyle he had prior to the divorce. The circuit court found that he had neither complied with the January 2016 order nor made substantial efforts toward attempting to comply despite having the means to do so. Additionally, the circuit court ordered that no stay would be granted unless Terry posted a $600, 000 supersedeas bond.

         An initial contempt order was signed on May 31, 2016, and was electronically filed the following day. The stated purpose of this order was to facilitate Terry's commitment to the jail, and the order provided that Lorene's counsel was to prepare a more detailed order. A ...

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.