3710 E. La Salle Street
Colorado Springs, CO 80909
16 October 1998
Lori Clayton Huber
136 South Main Street, Suite 414
Salt Lake City, Utah 84101
I am considering the implications of the motion for contempt filed by Colleens attorney. Initially I thought I would not respond. Then I composed and faxed a rather impulsive reply to Colleen's attorney, indicating that if they continue to harass me, I planned to claim disability for mental illness, and retire from working.
Since I live in Colorado, it is impractical for me to come five hundred miles to Salt Lake City for the purpose of attending a brief hearing. Would it be a great imposition on the court to ask the judge to accommodate me? Would it be possible to simply negotiate terms with Colleen and her attorney without dragging this matter back into the court?
I want these people to leave me alone. I have moved away from Utah specifically to escape from any contact with members of my former family or their associates. I want nothing further to do with them.
Under the restriction of the outstanding protective order prohibiting any communication with her, I have felt no obligation to keep informed about Colleens intentions, desires, or expectations. I have similar feelings about announcing my own plans to her. My only communication with Colleen or her attorney has been the faxed message I sent to Mary Corporons office in mid-September. There was no response, other than the deputy sheriff that showed up at my place of employment the next week to serve a copy of the motion, and the notice of hearing that I received in the mail.
The court-appointed guardian ad litem effectively ratified and reinforced the separation and state-sanctioned denial of access between my children and myself, further reducing any feeling of moral obligation for involvement with the concerns or interests of my former family. I interpret the guardian ad litems recommendation to the court as a formal expression of my childrens will in this matter.
The only significant contacts my sons have voluntarily initiated in over two years of separation have been requests for money or expensive entertainment. They have seldom called on the phone or written letters, and only on rare occasions have they sought to see me. During the infrequent visitations I have had with my sons, they always exhibited a reticence to share personal information or confidence. "Supervisors" provided by Colleen or by the court have tended to interfere with our free interaction, thereby reinforcing this attitude. I have not spoken to or seen my oldest son since the summer of 1997, and have had little significant contact with any of the other children. As far as I know, the children have been counseled to regard this situation as acceptable and unremarkable.
As a father who believed that I had always cared for and been close to my sons, this was a bewildering problem. I took what actions were available to improve the situation, but it was obvious that I had no chance. Last August I moved away from Utah seeking to escape from and forget what had become an intolerable situation.
I had anticipated that I would not have financial means to pay the amount demanded, and discussed this at the time of the settlement meeting. I was intending to apply a tax refund toward the debt, but in the process of moving, misplaced the tax form giving permission for me to claim some of the children as dependents, as stipulated in item 9 of the divorce decree. The tax refund from amended filing for my 1996 state and federal income tax would amount to some $2500.00, which, in addition to excess collections from ORS garnishment over the past couple of months, would substantially cover the settlement amount demanded by the petitioner.
I note the following objections to statements and allegations from the motion for contempt document:
Item 1 indicates the divorce decree entered by the court on 8 July 1998. I was not notified of this date, and did not receive a copy of the finalized decree. This makes the 30-day allowance for payment somewhat ambiguous.
Item 3 indicates inaccurately that the child support order from the divorce decree was set at $1350.00 per month. In fact, item 4 from the divorce decree indicates, "Effective July 1, 1998, the support for the parties children shall reduce automatically to $1135.00." As of this date, the ORS garnishment has not been reduced, and the withholding statement dated 31 Aug 1998 still lists the oldest child as receiving child support. I have been assuming that the excess would be credited as payment toward the settlement amount.
Item 6 refers to imposition of an additional $502.03 plus interest for failing to pay the agreed amount within thirty days. In the decree, this "additional" clause is included in a number of similar clauses that do not incorporate this double penalty schema. This double penalty is obviously unjust. Such a "trick" clause is blatantly unethical, unreasonable, and should be rescinded.
Item 8 asserts that I had the ability to comply with the demand for payment, and intentionally and willfully refused to pay various obligations. Since I have not to my knowledge been presented with a request or opportunity to willfully refuse, or even to state my intentions, and was not notified when the stipulated thirty-day period began, this "willfully and intentionally refused" language is false and defamatory.
In the divorce process, I laboriously documented my current financial status. As far as I know, this information was freely available to the court, Colleen, and her counsel. They could not help but be fully aware that I do not have $3000 of available cash.
Objections to relief requests:
Item 1 moves the court to find me in contempt for continuing refusal to pay the entire amount of child support, and continuing refusal to pay for one-half the missionary costs.
According to ORS accounting, I have no past-due child support obligation. The ORS has garnished my wages since June 1996. Cumulative ORS withholding for child support has far exceeded my legal obligation since the beginning of 1997. ORS garnishment currently exceeds the amount stipulated for child support in the divorce decree.
In divorce decree item 6, it stipulates the manner in which claims regarding alleged child support arrearages should be resolved. As far as I know, no conflicting "accounting of alleged child support arrearages" has been received, after I provided a copy of the ORS statement of account sometime around Mar 1998, which statement indicated no arrearage as of Feb 1998. They have failed to follow their own stipulation for resolution of this issue.
The ORS sent a "Notice to Withhold Income for Child Support" to my employer, dated 31 Aug 1998, which does not indicate past-due status.
Item 9 of the petitioner's statements and assertions makes prejudicial and defamatory reference to failure to provide support for missionary service of one of the children. According to my understanding, the missionary service in question had not commenced when the complaint was filed. Since I am not permitted to communicate with these people, I assumed that they bear the burden of notifying me when such events take place.
Since the date that I was informally notified of the commencement of missionary service, through a third-hand source, I have made voluntary donations of $100.00 semi-monthly to the General Missionary Fund of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in accordance with church policy regarding missionary support. Currently the recommended donation for missionary service is $375.00 per month, therefore my donations slightly exceed the stipulated one-half of the support assessment.
Item 2 requests judgement for past due child support. According to ORS accounting, there is none. Inclusion of this false allegation is defamatory, prejudicial, and intolerable. Obviously the arguing parties wish to frame me before the court as a despicable deadbeat dad. Perhaps they are interested in preparing the way for federal felony charges and mandatory imprisonment. Judging from what I read in the news, punishing deadbeats is a popular cause for the courts these days.
Item 3 requests judgement for $3540.91, which includes the doubled amount from allegations and statements of item 6. The correct amount should be $3038.88 plus interest.
Item 4 requests "order of reasonable attorneys fees and court costs." Divorce decree item 18 states, "each party is ordered to pay and assume his or her own court costs and attorney's fees incurred in this action, and each is ordered to hold the other harmless thereon."
If the motion for contempt contained reasonable and true statements and allegations, I would have been satisfied to let it pass, since I have fully intended to make the demanded payment as soon as possible. I was not intending to retain counsel, nor would I have contested a simple motion for judgement for $3038.88. Since the motion document consists mostly of false and defamatory allegations, I now feel obligated to defend myself. Therefore I believe it is only fair to request that the settlement amount now be reduced by the amount of my own legal expenses.
I have also been inclined to let pass the excessive collections from the ORS which took place during 1997. The excess amounted to some $9000.00, and the ORS only gave credit for about $5000.00 of that amount. Perhaps it is time to make a case that the excess collections should be applied to the settlement payment.
In all honesty, I would be satisfied to call it even, as long as I could feel some confidence that such defamatory posturing will never take place again. I would be happy to pass along the tax refund, if I can obtain another tax form for filing with the amended 1997 tax documents.
As long as I remember I have supported my family to the best of my ability. Even under their terrible revilement and defamation I have given more than I was ordered, as far as I have been able. As I stated to Mary Corporon in my faxed letter, I will no longer tolerate such treatment, and would choose to quit working rather than continue to comply with these unreasonable demands. If I cannot retain enough of my own earnings to enable me to live in a reasonably comfortable fashion, I have no reason to continue working. My medical history would serve as sufficient justification for retirement.
Thank you for consideration and advice in this matter.
D. James Cobabe