Pierce and Pierce

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Family Law
  • Date Filed: 10-30-2013
  • Case #: A151441
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Sercombe, J. for the Court; Ortega, P.J.; and Hadlock, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

Common-law rules regarding payments from debtor to creditor apply in the domestic relations context. A debtor, making a payment to a creditor with multiple claims, may designate application of his payment as long as the debtor manifests his intent as to where the particular payment is to be applied at or before the time of payment.

Father appealed the trial court's judgment finding him in contempt. Father and Mother dissolved their marriage and entered a supplemental judgment. In 2011, each party filed a motion requesting the other be held in contempt for violating the supplemental judgment. Father claimed that Mother violated the terms of the parenting plan and Mother claimed that, starting in 2009, Father failed to make payments for a child support arrearage. The court below concluded that Mother was not in contempt of the parenting plan because no parenting plan was included with the supplemental judgment. However, the court found that Father was in contempt for failing to make payments to the child support arrearage. Father appealed arguing that Mother violated the parenting plan, even though it was not included in the supplemental judgment. The Court found references to a parenting plan within the judgment, however, because no parenting plan was filed with the judgment the trial court did not err. Next, Father argued that he was not in contempt because he did not fall behind on his current payments. He argued that from September 2009 on, he continued to make his payment and marked those payments as “for arrears.” The Court held that the debtor’s intent controls the direction of the payment and Father manifested his intention to direct the payment to the 2004 arrearage. Supplemental judgment reversed as to finding of contempt for failure to make child support arrearage payments and as to money award for interest on arrearage; otherwise affirmed.

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