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Thompson v. Thompson

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District

August 30, 2013

CHERYL L. THOMPSON, Plaintiff-Appellee
v.
ROBERT R. THOMPSON, Defendant-Appellant

(Civil appeal from Common Pleas Court, Domestic Relations) T.C. NO. 07DR226.

LAURA KENDELL, Atty. Reg. No. 0072490, Attorney for Plaintiff-Appellee.

CATHY J. WEITHMAN, Atty. Reg. No. 0002089, Attorney for Defendant-Appellant.

OPINION

FROELICH, J.

(¶ 1} Robert R. Thompson appeals from a judgment of the Champaign County Court of Common Pleas, which ordered that an outstanding Ohio tax liability be shared equally by Mr. Thompson and his former wife, Cheryl L. Thompson, and credited each party for amounts already paid toward the debt. Mr. Thompson challenges the amount he was credited with having paid. For the following reasons, the judgment of the trial court will be affirmed.

(¶ 2} The current dispute involves tax obligations owed to the IRS and the State of Ohio from a business operated during the parties' marriage. The apportionment of the outstanding federal tax debt between the parties was resolved in proceedings related to the 2007 dissolution of their marriage. Pursuant to the separation agreement incorporated into the dissolution decree, the parties made payments on the IRS debt for several years after the dissolution of their marriage; Mrs. Thompson made monthly payments toward this debt to Mr. Thompson, and Mr. Thompson made the payments to the IRS.

(¶ 3} After the dissolution of their marriage, the Thompsons learned of an additional tax debt owed to the State. According to Mr. Thompson, the parties entered into an additional agreement with the State for the payment of that debt at a rate of $200 per month, and, in 2008, entered into a personal agreement that Mrs. Thompson would pay Mr. Thompson $100 per month toward this Ohio debt (in addition to the amount she was paying on the IRS obligation), which Mr. Thompson would then pay to the State..

(¶ 4} In July 2011, Mrs. Thompson stopped making payments to Mr. Thompson. In August 2011, Mr. Thompson filed a motion to find Mrs. Thompson in contempt. In March 2012, while the contempt motion was pending, Mr. Thompson filed a Motion to Determine State Tax Lien Payment; Mrs. Thompson construed this motion as "essentially a 60(B) motion, " and she opposed it. In July 2012, the trial court held a hearing on the motions. In January 2013, the court concluded that the parties would share the Ohio tax liability equally and that Mr. Thompson's motion to hold Mrs. Thompson in contempt was "moot;" it also determined the amount that each party would be credited for amounts already paid toward the Ohio tax liability.

(¶ 5} Mr. Thompson appeals from the trial court's decision, raising one assignment of error. Mrs. Thompson did not file a brief

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FINDING THAT DEFENDANT-APPELLANT SHOULD NOT BE CREDITED FOR HIS PAYMENTS TO THE STATE OF OHIO DELINQUENT TAX OBLIGATION.

(¶ 6} On appeal, Mr. Thompson challenges the court's failure to credit him for payments he purportedly made toward the Ohio tax liability; he does not challenge the trial court's division of the Ohio tax liability, the amount it credited Mrs. Thompson with having paid, or its finding that his motion for a finding of contempt related to the federal tax obligation was "moot." He contends that the State tax matter "should be sent back for a determination of payments [he made to the State] * * * which would offset the amount he owes on said obligation."

(¶ 7} On factual issues and questions of credibility of witnesses, appellate courts generally defer to the trial court's findings. "The 'rationale of giving deference to the findings of the trial court rests with the knowledge that the trial judge is best able to view the witnesses and observe their demeanor, gestures and voice inflections, and use these observations in weighing the credibility of the proffered testimony.'" In re J.Y., 2d Dist. Miami No. 07-CA-35, 2008-Ohio-3485, ¶ 33, quoting from Seasons Coal Co., Inc. v. Cleveland, 10 Ohio St.3d 77, 80, 461 N.E.2d 1273 (1984).

(¶ 8} The evidence presented at the hearing was as follows.

(¶ 9} In 2007, as a result of an IRS audit, the parties learned that they had an outstanding tax debt from previous years related to the operation of their business, Thompson Tire. The parties entered into an agreement with the IRS to pay $150 ...


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