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Czalkiewicz v. Czalkiewicz

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

March 2, 2017

PAULA CZALKIEWICZ PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE
v.
THEODORE CZALKIEWICZ DEFENDANT-APPELLANT

         Civil Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Domestic Relations Division Case No. DR-10-332781

         JUDGMENT: REVERSED AND REMANDED

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT John V. Heutsche John V. Heutsche Co., L.P.A.

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE Kevin L. Starrett Law Offices of Kevin L. Starrett

          BEFORE: S. Gallagher, J., E.T. Gallagher, P.J., and Celebrezze, J.

          JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION

          SEAN C. GALLAGHER, J.

         {¶1} Defendant-appellant, Theodore Czalkiewicz ("Ted"), appeals the judgment of the trial court that found he was in contempt for failing to comply with his spousal support obligation owed to plaintiff-appellee Paula Czalkiewicz ("Paula") and granted Paula's motions related thereto. Upon review, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand the matter with instructions for the court to vacate the finding of contempt and terminate the spousal support obligation effective June 1, 2014.

         {¶2} The parties to this action were divorced in June 2011. The judgment entry of divorce incorporated the parties' separation agreement. Pursuant to the terms of the divorce decree, Paula was ordered to pay child support to Ted, and Ted was ordered to pay spousal support to Paula. Because of the competing obligations, the court instructed in the divorce decree that "CSEA [Cuyahoga Support Enforcement Agency] shall only collect and pay to [Paula] the difference between [Ted's] spousal support obligation and [Paula's] child support obligation until [Paula's] obligation to pay child support shall cease * * *." The divorce decree provided for the termination of child support, which in this case occurred when the child graduated from high school and reached the age of 18.

         {¶3} The divorce decree further instructed that Ted's payments for spousal support were to commence July 1, 2011, with the added language "through CSEA as long as there is a child support obligation." As to the termination of spousal support, the divorce decree provided that "all payments shall terminate upon the death of either party or [Paula's] remarriage or cohabitation as defined by Dickerson [v. Dickerson, 87 Ohio App.3d 848, 623 N.E.2d 237 (6th Dist.1993)]." The court retained jurisdiction to modify the spousal support order. This was consistent with the terms of the parties' separation agreement.

         {¶4} On August 14, 2014, the trial court issued an order that accepted the findings and recommendations of the Cuyahoga Job and Family Services, Office of Child Support Services ("CJFS-OCSS") regarding the administrative termination of support, dated July 2, 2014, "as the revised Court child support order." The CJFS-OCSS findings and recommendations dated July 2, 2014, identified Ted as the obligor and Paula as the obligee. The CJFS-OCSS findings and recommendations were reissued on July 14, 2014, and reversed the designation of the parties as obligor and obligee. The findings and recommendations were otherwise identical to those issued on July 2, 2014, and pertained to the termination of child support. On September 12, 2014, the trial court issued an order accepting the findings and recommendations dated July 14, 2014, "as the revised Court child support order."

         {¶5} Paula stopped receiving spousal support payments in June 2014. On August 25, 2014, Paula filed a motion to show cause, motion to secure payment of future spousal support, and motion for attorney fees. Ted filed a motion to dismiss Paula's motions. He argued that the trial court's order of August 14, 2014, effectively terminated his spousal support obligation because the CJFS-OCSS findings and recommendations accepted by the court had designated him as the obligor. He claimed that the trial court's subsequent order of September 12, 2014, then operated to terminate Paula's obligation to pay child support. A hearing was held before a court magistrate who issued a decision to deny the motion. Subsequently, the magistrate issued an amended decision that was adopted by the trial court.

         {¶6} Thereafter, a hearing was held before the magistrate on Paula's motions. Ted asserted that the trial court's order of August 14, 2014, terminated his spousal support obligation. He further asserted that the support obligation was terminated because of cohabitation by Paula. The magistrate's decision rejected these arguments and granted Paula's motions. The trial court overruled the objections and adopted the magistrate's decision in its entirety.

         {¶7} Ted timely filed this appeal. He raises four assignments of error for our review.

         {¶8} Under his first three assignments of error, Ted claims that the trial court erred by (1) approving the magistrate's decision that denied his motion to dismiss, (2) proceeding upon Paula's motion to show cause, and (3) granting implied relief from judgment. All three claims are premised upon the proposition that the CJFS-OCSS's findings and recommendations, which were accepted ...


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