Nicole B. Hill, Petitioner-Appellee,
Travis D. Hill, Petitioner-Appellant.
from the Franklin County C.P.C. No. 09DR-1492 Court of Common
Pleas, Division of Domestic Relations
Bergman & Yiangou, and Andrew J. Niese, for appellee.
D. Hill, pro se.
1} Travis D. Hill, petitioner-appellant, appeals
from the judgment of the Franklin County Court of Common
Pleas, Division of Domestic Relations, in which the court
granted the "motion to enforce the magistrate's
decision filed on March 11, 2015 against petitioner-husband
Travis Hill and motion for attorney fees as well as request
for judgment," filed by Nicole B. Hill,
2} Travis and Nicole were married on December 28,
1985. They terminated their marriage via a decree of
dissolution on June 15, 2009. The judgment entry incorporated
a separation agreement.
3} Post decree, the parties each filed motions for
contempt regarding the terms of the separation agreement.
Both parties also filed for bankruptcy. On March 11, 2015, a
magistrate denied Travis's motion for contempt and
granted Nicole's motion for contempt. Based on the terms
of the decree, the magistrate deducted the amount Travis owed
Nicole from what Nicole owed Travis and found that Travis
owed Nicole $638.86. The magistrate ordered Travis to serve
five days in jail on the contempt charges, but the magistrate
suspended the sentence on the condition that he purge his
contempt by paying Nicole $638.86 within 30 days and paying
$5, 000 in attorney fees in monthly $500 installments. Travis
filed objections to the magistrate's decision. On
September 17, 2015, the trial court issued a judgment finding
no error in the magistrate's decision. Travis appealed,
and this court affirmed the trial court's judgment in
Hill v. Hill, 10th Dist. No. 15AP-891,
4} On April 30, 2015, Nicole filed a "motion to
enforce the magistrate's decision filed on March 11, 2015
against petitioner-husband Travis Hill and motion for
attorney fees as well as request for judgment." After a
lengthy delay due to the pending appeal in Hill, the
trial court held a hearing on the motion on June 19, 2017.
According to the trial court's June 21, 2017 decision,
Nicole testified at the hearing that Travis had paid nothing
toward the amounts ordered in the March 11, 2015
magistrate's decision, while Travis testified the award
of fees owed to Nicole was discharged in one of his two
bankruptcy cases. However, the court found the exhibit Travis
submitted from the bankruptcy court, "Exhibit 1,"
did not show the debt owed to Nicole had been discharged.
From the bench, the court provided Travis until June 26, 2017
to present certified proof of discharge from the bankruptcy
court showing the debt owed to Nicole was discharged, or
Travis would serve five days in jail. The court indicated in
its decision that, on June 19, 2017, Travis provided the
trial court with additional entries from the bankruptcy
court, but the trial court found those entries failed to
establish the debts owed to Nicole had been discharged. The
court also found that, pursuant to 11 U.S.C. 523(a)(15), a
bankruptcy discharge under 11 U.S.C. 727 is not dischargeable
against an individual debtor incurred by the debtor in the
course of a divorce or separation or in connection with a
separation agreement, divorce decree, or other order of a
court of record, or a determination made in accordance with
state or territorial law by a governmental unit. In its June
21, 2017 judgment, the court found that unless Travis
appeared and provided the court with a certified order
discharging the debts owed to Nicole, the court would enforce
the five-day jail sentence commencing on June 28, 2017.
Travis filed the present appeal of the trial court's
judgment on June 27, 2017, and the trial court stayed the
order enforcing incarceration pending appeal.
5} However, Travis's appellate brief is
deficient. Travis has elected to proceed pro se on appeal.
"It is well-established that prose litigants
are presumed to have knowledge of the law and legal
procedures and that they are held to the same standard as
litigants who are represented by counsel." (Emphasis
sic.) Sabouri v. Ohio Dept. of Job & Family
Servs., 145 Ohio App.3d 651, 654 (10th Dist.2001).
"In civil cases, the same rules, procedures and
standards apply to one who appears pro se as apply to those
litigants who are represented by counsel." Fields v.
Stange, 10th Dist. No. 03AP-48, 2004-Ohio-1134, ¶
7, citing State ex rel. Fuller v. Mengel, 100 Ohio
St.3d 352, 2003-Ohio-6448, ¶ 10.
6} In the present case, Travis's brief contains
no assignments of error. Pursuant to App.R. 16(A)(3), an
appellant's brief must contain "[a] statement of the
assignments of error presented for review, with reference to
the place in the record where each error is reflected."
Assignments of error are particularly important because
appellate courts determine each appeal "on its merits on
the assignments of error set forth in the briefs under App.R.
16." App.R. 12(A)(1)(b). "This court rules on
assignments of error, not mere arguments."
Huntington Natl. Bank v. Burda, 10th Dist. No.
08AP-658, 2009-Ohio-1752, ¶ 21, quoting App.R.
12(A)(1)(b); Williams v. Barrick, 10th Dist. No.
08AP-133, 2008-Ohio-4592, ¶ 28 (holding appellate courts
"rule on assignments of error only, and will not
address mere arguments"). It is not the duty of an
appellate court to create an argument on an appellant's
behalf. State v. ...