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Appellate court upholds contempt finding against mother

May 9, 2018

A Marion County mother was unsuccessful in her attempt to seek relief from an order finding her in contempt of court for interfering with her ex-husband’s parenting time, with the Indiana Court of Appeals finding she failed to develop a cogent appellate argument.

After Angela and Clement Bello divorced in November 2010, the Marion Superior Court awarded sole physical custody of the couple’s son, K.B., to Angela, while Clement was granted parenting time and was ordered to pay $75 a week in child support. But in February 2016, Clement moved for a rule to show cause, to modify child custody/parenting time and for reimbursement of his attorney’s fees, arguing his ex-wife was interfering with his parenting time and deliberately hindering his relationship with K.B.

The trial court ultimately found that K.B. was “over-involved in sports and extracurricular activities for his age” and should not be involved in more than one sport and one other activity per sports season. The court denied Clement’s motions, but the father filed a second show cause motion in March 2017, arguing Angela refused to consult him before enrolling K.B. in extracurricular activities.

The trial court’s second order agreed with Clement that K.B.’s schedule was interfering with time with his father and had negatively impacted his academic performance. Thus, the court found Angela in contempt for failing to abide by the original dissolution decree and the 2016 order and awarded Clement $2,500 in attorney fees.

After the trial court denied Angela’s motion for relief from judgment, she appealed in In Re the Marriage of: Angela R. Bello v. Clement A. Bello, 49A02-1711-DR-2516. But the Indiana Court of Appeals upheld the denial of her motion for relief Wednesday.

“…(R)ather than developing her argument on the specific categories of (Trial Rule) 60(B) in her appellate brief, her brief abandons all references to the motion and instead proceeds as if she filed a direct appeal against the trial court’s orders…,” Judge Patricia Riley wrote. “Mothers fails to point to any mistake, surprise, newly discovered evidence, fraud, or any other ground which could support her motion for relief from judgment and her appeal of the trial court’s denial thereof.”

“As Mother cannot use Indiana Trial Rule 60(B) as a substitute for direct appeal and she failed to make a cogent argument in support of her appeal to the trial court’s denial of her T.R. 60(B) motion,” Riley continued, “we must affirm the trial court’s decision.”

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