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Robinson v. Robinson

Florida Court of Appeals, Fifth District

October 3, 2019

STEPHEN JEREMY ROBINSON, Appellant,
v.
JENNIFER LEA ROBINSON, Appellee.

         NOT FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE MOTION FOR REHEARING AND DISPOSITION THEREOF IF FILED

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for Brevard County, George Paulk, Judge.

          Adam H. Sudbury, of Apellie Legal, Orlando, for Appellant.

          Michelle Meulke, of Michelle Meulke, PLLC, Titusville, for Appellee.

          LAMBERT, J.

         In these consolidated appeals, Stephen Jeremy Robinson ("Former Husband") appeals the trial court's two post-final-judgment orders adjudicating him in civil contempt for failing to pay his share of certain medical, dental, and optical expenses incurred on behalf of his minor children and for failing to pay his child support obligations owed by him to the appellee, Jennifer Lea Robinson ("Former Wife"), arising from the dissolution of their marriage. Former Husband also appeals a separate post-judgment order directing the clerk of court to adjust its child support payment records to reflect that, as of February 27, 2017, Former Husband owed child support arrearages in the sum of $6931.50. In this opinion, we first provide a brief history of the case, and we then address each order under review in the specific appellate case in which the order is being appealed.

         In 2012, the parties decided to end their marriage. To that end, they executed a marital settlement agreement in March 2012 to resolve their respective rights and obligations to each other in dissolving their marriage. Pertinent here, Former Husband was to pay to Former Wife the sum of $300 per month in durational alimony for a period of fifty-four months; and the parties were to share the parental responsibility for the care and upbringing of their two minor children, with Former Husband paying child support to Former Wife in the sum of $900 per month. Though the agreement was not executed until March, Former Husband's alimony and child support payments were to commence as of January 1, 2012. The parties also agreed to maintain insurance coverage for the benefit of their children, with any medical, dental, optical, orthodontic, mental health care, and other medically necessary expenses not covered by the insurance to be split evenly between them.

         In April 2012, Former Wife filed her petition for dissolution of marriage, requesting that the marriage be dissolved and the parties' marital settlement agreement be approved. Former Husband answered; and, in May 2012, the case came before a general magistrate. Following a hearing, the magistrate issued a written report finding that the parties' marriage was irretrievably broken and approving their marital settlement agreement. The trial court thereafter entered a final judgment approving, adopting, and incorporating the general magistrate's report and the parties' marital settlement agreement into the judgment, effectively dissolving the parties' marriage.

         Appellate Case 5D17-1109-

         In this appeal, Former Husband challenges the trial court's order finding him in civil contempt for failing to pay his share of the children's uncovered medical, dental, and optical expenses incurred in 2015. Due to time constraints, the hearing that was held on Former Wife's contempt motion was adjourned prior to Former Husband putting on his defense and without the actual bills in dispute being placed into evidence. Nevertheless, by order dated November 2, 2015, Former Husband was to bring "current within ninety days" those expenses "for which he had received documentation." Following another hearing, the court entered an order on September 16, 2016, finding Former Husband in contempt of the November 2, 2015 order for willfully failing to pay the sum of $3155.07 for the children's uncovered medical, dental, and optical expenses incurred in 2015.

         In his initial brief and at the recently-held oral argument, Former Husband represented to this court that he no longer contests the amount determined to be his share of these expenses. Former Husband does, however, maintain that the trial court erred in adjudicating him in contempt of court, asserting that the November 2, 2015 order upon which the later contempt order was based was too vague and imprecise for him to be found in contempt for his alleged failure to comply with the order. We agree.

         "In either the civil or criminal contempt scenario, a person cannot be held in contempt for violating a court's order if the order is not sufficiently explicit or precise to put a party on notice of exactly what it must or must not do." See Wilcoxon v. Moller, 132 So.3d 281, 286-87 (Fla. 4th DCA 2014) (citing Marcus v. Marcus, 902 So.2d 259, 262 (Fla. 4th DCA 2005)). Here, the November 2, 2015 order requiring that Former Husband bring current, within ninety days, those expenses for which he had received documentation was too imprecise to subject Former Husband to the later adjudication of contempt for nonpayment of $3155.07 for the children's uncovered medical, dental, and optical expenses. That Former Husband, during this appeal, chose to no longer contest the sum determined to be owed does not ameliorate the error. We therefore vacate that portion of the September 16, 2016 order adjudicating Former Husband in contempt. We affirm the remaining aspects of the order without further discussion.

         Appellate Case 5D17-2427-

         The genesis of this appeal arose in 2016 when Former Husband claimed that the clerk of court's office advised him that its records showed that he had a credit of $4623.21 resulting from an overpayment of his alimony obligation and that it would begin applying this credit against Former Husband's future monthly child support payments. In reliance, Former ...


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