ILNews

COA reverses contempt finding

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2008
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The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a trial court order finding a father in contempt of court for not complying with orders stemming from post-dissolution proceedings, ruling the father did comply with an order requiring he update his ex-wife with documents regarding a trust for his children's education.

In David L. Bartlemay v. Nancy Witt, f/k/a Nancy Bartlemay, No. 89A04-0802-CV-50, David Bartlemay appealed a 2007 trial court order that he was in contempt of court for violating previous orders following the dissolution of his and Nancy Witt's marriage.

The couple has four children and a trust was set up by Bartlemay's father for the children's future college expenses with Bartlemay's sister, Robbin Myers, as the trustee. Later, the trust was terminated and a limited liability company was created to provide the college funds.

The original dissolution order stated Bartlemay would provide Witt with a semi-annual accounting of the children's college funds, which a 2006 order updated stating what documents Witt should receive annually.

After Bartlemay failed to provide the required financial documents, Witt filed a motion and asked that he be held in contempt and pay her attorney's fees.

In 2007, the trial court found Bartlemay in contempt for failing to directly provide Witt with financial statements of the limited liability company twice a year, ordered him to pay $13,000 for Witt's legal fees, and sentenced him to a 10-day jail sentence, which was suspended pending his compliance with the court orders in the future.

The Court of Appeals found Witt was being hypercritical about the manner in which she receives the financial information because she has received adequate information in a proper time frame, even though Myers, not Bartlemay, sent Witt the financial statements, wrote Chief Judge John Baker.

The appellate court also wrote in a footnote that it "strongly encourage(s) David and Nancy to find a way to navigate their differences on this issue," and use intervention by the court as a last resort.

The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's finding that Bartlemay was in contempt for allegedly violating the previous orders regarding how and when he delivered the financial statements to Witt, the sentence of 10 days in jail because it doesn't give him an opportunity to purge himself of the contempt with compliance, and the finding that Bartlemay was in contempt for removing two of his daughters from school without Witt's permission so that they could testify at a March 2007 hearing.

Bartlemay violated the original dissolution order that states the children can't be removed from school without the permission of the other parent, but he did have the right to bring his daughters to testify at the trial, wrote the chief judge.

The appellate court also remanded to the trial court for a determination of how much Bartlemay should have to pay in attorney's fees. The original amount ordered by the trial court is based on its belief he intentionally gave inaccurate information while testifying before the 2001 order, but there is no evidence he intentionally misled the court.
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  1. Hysteria? Really Ben? Tell the young lady reported on in the link below that worrying about the sexualizing of our children is mere hysteria. Such thinking is common in the Royal Order of Jesters and other running sex vacays in Thailand or Brazil ... like Indy's Jared Fogle. Those tempted to call such concerns mere histronics need to think on this: http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/a-12-year-old-girl-live-streamed-her-suicide-it-took-two-weeks-for-facebook-to-take-the-video-down/ar-AAlT8ka?li=AA4ZnC&ocid=spartanntp

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  3. This is happening so much. Even in 2016.2017. I hope the father sue for civil rights violation. I hope he sue as more are doing and even without a lawyer as pro-se, he got a good one here. God bless him.

  4. JLAP and other courtiers ... Those running court systems, have most substance abuse issues. Probably self medicating to cover conscience issues arising out of acts furthering govt corruption

  5. I whole-heartedly agree with Doug Church's comment, above. Indiana lawyers were especially fortunate to benefit from Tom Pyrz' leadership and foresight at a time when there has been unprecedented change in the legal profession. Consider how dramatically computer technology and its role in the practice of law have changed over the last 25 years. The impact of the great recession of 2008 dramatically changed the composition and structure of law firms across the country. Economic pressures altered what had long been a routine, robust annual recruitment process for law students and recent law school graduates. That has, in turn, impacted law school enrollment across the country, placing upward pressure on law school tuition. The internet continues to drive significant changes in the provision of legal services in both public and private sectors. The ISBA has worked to make quality legal representation accessible and affordable for all who need it and to raise general public understanding of Indiana laws and procedures. How difficult it would have been to tackle each of these issues without Tom's leadership. Tom has set the tone for positive change at the ISBA to meet the evolving practice needs of lawyers of all backgrounds and ages. He has led the organization with vision, patience, flexibility, commitment, thoughtfulness & even humor. He will, indeed, be a tough act to follow. Thank you, Tom, for all you've done and all the energy you've invested in making the ISBA an excellent, progressive, highly responsive, all-inclusive, respectful & respected professional association during his tenure there.

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