HUSBAND AND WIFE Contempt in Post-Divorce ProceedingPosted by Paul Macri - 05/03/10 at 10:03 am
HUSBAND AND WIFE
Contempt in Post-Divorce Proceeding
Efstathiou v. Efstathiou, 2009 ME 107, 982 A.2d 339, Jabar, J.
An ex-wife filed a contempt action seeking to have her ex-husband pay the $400,000 he was ordered to pay as part of the divorce judgment. The District Court concluded that the defendant was not in contempt because he did not have the present ability to pay the $400,000. The District Court rejected the wife’s collateral estoppel argument on the ground that the husband’s present ability to pay in a contempt proceeding is a different issue from his ability to pay at the time of the divorce. The husband demonstrated that he was unable to borrow the $400,000, and that was the basis of the District Court’s order.
The Law Court remanded on the ground that there was no evidence on the issue of whether the defendant had complied with the divorce judgment “to the fullest extent possible.” The Law Court pointed out that there was evidence that the ex-husband had numerous assets and could probably have paid part of the $400,000 and that the District Court was required to determine not only whether he could pay the full amount, but whether he could pay any part of it.