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Haskell v. Haskell

Supreme Court of Maine

May 9, 2017

PAMELA HASKELL
v.
DUSTY HASKELL

          Submitted On Briefs: April 27, 2017

         Reporter of Decisions

          Joseph W. Baiungo, Esq., Belfast, for appellant Dusty Haskell.

          C.H. Spurling, Esq., Gardiner, for appellee Pamela Haskell.

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

          SAUFLEY, C.J.

         [¶1] Dusty Haskell appeals from a divorce judgment entered by the District Court (Belfast, Worth, J.) and from the denial of his motion for relief from that judgment. He argues that the court should have conducted a new trial because he did not attend the hearing that resulted in the divorce judgment and the evidence admitted at that hearing was insufficient to demonstrate his ability to pay spousal support of $6, 000 per month. We discern no error and affirm the judgment.

         I. BACKGROUND

         [¶2] Pamela Haskell filed a complaint for divorce in June 2015 after thirty-nine years of marriage to Dusty. The standard family matter summons served on Dusty with the complaint stated that court notices would be sent by mail and informed Dusty, "It is your own responsibility to be sure that the Court has your correct address. Any change of address must be in writing and delivered to the Clerks office by hand or regular mail."

         [¶3] Pamela filed an emergency motion for an interim order of support and allocation of property. Dusty retained counsel and filed an answer, a counterclaim, and an objection to the emergency motion. The home mailing address that Dusty provided to the court was the address of the marital home, and Dusty never notified the court of any other address. The court ordered that complete financial statements be submitted by July 28, 2015, and it sent both parties notice of a hearing set for August 10.

         [¶4] Before July 28, Dustys counsel moved to withdraw as counsel on the grounds that Dusty would not follow advice and was non-responsive when asked if he would agree to counsels withdrawal from the matter. The court granted counsels motion to withdraw and ordered that counsel send a copy of its order to Dustys last known address. The court specifically ordered that the hearing would be held as scheduled on August 10, 2015.

         [¶5] The hearing on the emergency motion for an interim order was held as scheduled, but Dusty, who still had not filed a financial statement, did not attend. Dusty had been receiving mail at the marital home, and Pamela had been stacking it on the table for him, but he had not been looking through it, opening it, or reading it despite his almost daily visits to the home. In Dustys absence, the court entered an interim order based on the evidence that Pamela provided at the hearing. Among other provisions, the order gave Pamela exclusive possession of the marital home and of marital and business accounts, required Dusty to document his business dealings, ordered Dusty to pay $10, 000 in attorney fees, and awarded Pamela interim spousal support of $1, 000 per week beginning on August 14.

         [¶6] On August 17, 2015, the court scheduled a final hearing for September 28, 2015, and sent notice to both parties. On September 13, Pamela packed up some things that Dusty had left in the marital home, including his mail, and clipped a copy of the interim order onto the outside of a box. She took these things to a location where Dusty could get them. Dusty looked at the interim order about a week later and did not agree with its terms, though he did nothing about it.

         [¶7] The final divorce hearing was held as scheduled, but Dusty did not appear. The court took testimony from Pamela and, on October 13, 2015, entered the judgment that Pamela proposed through counsel. The court divided the parties real and personal property and awarded Pamela $6, 000 per month in spousal support for the rest of her life, absent modification. The court reached this decision based on evidence of her age, her lack of college or other education after high school, her work for Dustys businesses over the preceding eleven years, and Dustys multiple ...


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