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Sullivan v. Tardiff

Supreme Judicial Court of Maine

September 3, 2015

KATHERINE E. (TARDIFF) SULLIVAN
v.
LAWRENCE D. TARDIFF

Submitted on Briefs July 23, 2015

Page 653

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 654

On the briefs: Lawrence D. Tardiff, appellant Pro se.

Christopher K. MacLean, Esq., Elliott & MacLean, LLP, Camden, for appellee Katherine E. Sullivan.

Panel: SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, HJELM, and HUMPHREY, JJ.

OPINION

Page 655

HJELM, J.

[¶1] Lawrence D. Tardiff appeals from two post-divorce judgment orders, entered by the District Court (Rockland, Worth, J. ), modifying Tardiff's child support obligation and granting Katherine E. Sullivan's motion for contempt. Tardiff contends that the court erred when it ordered an increase in his weekly child support payment instead of ordering the reduction that he had requested, and when it found him in contempt of the divorce judgment and imposed remedial sanctions. We affirm both judgments.

I. BACKGROUND

[¶2] Sullivan and Tardiff were divorced in December 2011 pursuant to a divorce judgment entered by the District Court after the parties reached a settlement agreement. The judgment provided that primary residence of the parties' minor child would be with Sullivan and that Tardiff would have contact with the child at least two days per week. The judgment also required Tardiff to pay $132 per week in child support. That obligation was a downward deviation, by agreement of the parties, from $141 that was calculated pursuant to the child support guidelines, see 19-A M.R.S. § 2006 (2010), based on Tardiff's income of $59,497 per year and Sullivan's reported income of $18,000 per year. The judgment further required that Tardiff pay Sullivan for his proportionate share of the child's daycare expenses and that he pay her $13,500 to equalize the division of marital property.[1]

[¶3] In October 2012, Sullivan filed a motion for contempt, alleging, among other things, that Tardiff had not complied with the divorce judgment by failing to pay his share of the child's daycare expenses, the property settlement, and attorney fees. In January 2013, while Sullivan's motion for contempt was pending, Tardiff filed a motion to modify the judgment, stating that he had lost his job at the Maine State Prison and that, as a result, the visitation schedule and child support award should be modified. Sullivan filed an opposition to Tardiff's motion and a cross-motion to modify the provisions of the judgment relating to Tardiff's contact with the child.

[¶4] Tardiff's motion to modify and Sullivan's motion for contempt and cross-motion to modify were appropriately consolidated for hearing. A two-day hearing was held in January 2014, and Tardiff and Sullivan both appeared with counsel. A representative of the Department of Corrections, Tardiff's former employer, was also present at the hearing, and she alerted the court that Tardiff had received a $24,000 settlement in 2013 after leaving his position with the Department--something that Tardiff had not disclosed in his responses ...


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