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Susan Bawab v. Richard O. Bawab

October 13, 2011

SUSAN BAWAB (N.K.A. ZSUZSA CSEPANYI) PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE
v.
RICHARD O. BAWAB DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



JUDGMENT: AFFIRMED Civil Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Domestic Relations Division Case No. D-294172

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mary J. Boyle, P.J.:

Cite as Bawab v. Bawab,

JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION

BEFORE: Boyle, P.J., Jones, J., and Rocco, J.

{¶1} Defendant-appellant, Richard Bawab, appeals the trial court's judgment attaching his social security benefits and issuing a capias for him. In his sole assignment of error, he claims that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to do so because it never obtained personal jurisdiction over him. We find no merit to his arguments and affirm.

Procedural History and Factual Background

{¶2} The parties were divorced in April 2005 after 21 years of marriage. As part of their separation agreement incorporated into their divorce, Bawab was to pay plaintiff-appellee, Zsuzsa Csepanyi (f.k.a. Susan Bawab), $3,000 per month in spousal support for 24 months, and then $3,500 per month for 36 months. Csepanyi filed a motion to show cause in November 2005, claiming that Bawab had failed to pay her spousal support. Bawab filed a motion to modify spousal support in January 2006.

{¶3} In January 2009, after several hearings over several years, the trial court granted Csepanyi's motion for contempt and denied Bawab's motion to modify. In a detailed 35-page opinion, the trial court found that Bawab had only made two spousal support payments to Csepanyi since the parties' divorce, one in August 2005 and one in September 2005. After crediting Bawab a small amount for child support owed by Csepanyi to him, the trial court concluded that Bawab owed Csepanyi $98,323.27 in spousal support as of June 15, 2008. It found Bawab in contempt of court, and ordered that he be sentenced to 30 days in jail or purge his contempt by (1) paying Csepanyi $20,000 within 30 days of the order; (2) seek employment; and (3) post a cash bond of $8,500. Further, Bawab was to begin paying Csepanyi $3,570 per month, plus an additional $700 per month toward the arrearage until it was paid in full, or $4,270 per month.

{¶4} Csepanyi filed a notice with the trial court in March 2009, informing it that Bawab had done nothing to purge his contempt, nor had he paid Csepanyi the new monthly support obligation of $4,270. In December 2009, Csepanyi moved to suspend Bawab's driver's license, pharmacist's license, passport, and any other license held by Bawab, and she further moved to attach Bawab's social security benefits, as well as his federal, state, and local income tax refunds, and any other benefits to which he was entitled to. She also filed an affidavit, asserting that Bawab had failed to purge his contempt and requesting the court issue a capias for him and impose the court's previous jail sentence.

{¶5} Csepanyi sent her December 2009 motion to Bawab's last known address by certified mail. It was returned as "not deliverable as addressed." Csepanyi's counsel then filed an affidavit for service by publication, averring that he had attempted to locate Bawab by contacting Bawab's adult children and former housekeeper, contacting CSEA for information, and conducting a "google" search for him.

Csepanyi's counsel further averred that he "was advised that [Bawab] currently resides outside the United States," and that "plaintiff has exercised reasonable diligence to ascertain the residence of defendant."

{¶6} The magistrate scheduled a hearing on the matter in late August 2010. But on August 25, 2010, Bawab moved to continue that hearing due to a death in his family. The magistrate continued the hearing to November 2010.

{¶7} The magistrate heard Csepanyi's motion on November 9, 2010.

According to the magistrate's decision, Csepanyi and her counsel appeared, as well as Bawab's counsel. But the magistrate indicated that Bawab's counsel made a ...


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