Evans v. Evans, 051121 NECA, A-20-739

Docket NºA-20-739
Opinion JudgeMoore, Judge.
Party NameLiea Evans, appellee, v. Mike A. Evans, appellant.
AttorneyKaty A. Reichert, of Holyoke, Snyder, Longoria, Reichert & Rice, P.C., L.L.O., for appellant. Leonard G. Tabor for appellee.
Judge PanelPirtle, Chief Judge, and Moore and Bishop, Judges.
Case DateMay 11, 2021
CourtCourt of Appeals of Nebraska

Liea Evans, appellee,

v.

Mike A. Evans, appellant.

No. A-20-739

Court of Appeals of Nebraska

May 11, 2021

THIS OPINION IS NOT DESIGNATED FOR PERMANENT PUBLICATION AND MAY NOT BE CITED EXCEPT AS PROVIDED BY NEB. CT. R. APP. P. § 2-102(E).

Appeal from the District Court for Kimball County: Derek C. Weimer, Judge.

Katy A. Reichert, of Holyoke, Snyder, Longoria, Reichert & Rice, P.C., L.L.O., for appellant.

Leonard G. Tabor for appellee.

Pirtle, Chief Judge, and Moore and Bishop, Judges.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND JUDGMENT ON APPEAL

Moore, Judge.

INTRODUCTION

Mike A. Evans appeals from an order of the District Court for Kimball County, which found him in contempt for failing to pay his child support obligation. For the following reasons, we affirm the decision of the district court.

STATEMENT OF FACTS

A decree dissolving Mike's marriage to Liea Evans was entered by the district court on April 1, 2014. The parties had one child who was 11 years old at the time of the divorce. As a part of the initial decree, Mike was ordered to pay $744 per month in child support. On May 12, 2015, the court entered an order finding Mike in contempt of court for failure to pay child support. The court also lowered Mike's support obligation to $127.78 per month due to Mike's alleged injury and inability to work. However, the court found that Mike was capable of earning at least minimum wage. On March 9, 2018, the court again found Mike in contempt for nonpayment of child support, and ordered him to pay an additional $50 per month toward the arrearage, for total support of $177.78 per month.

On May 28, 2019, the Kimball County Attorney filed an affidavit and application for an order to show cause, alleging that Mike was delinquent in child support payments with an arrearage of at least $13, 427.81. The court ordered Mike to appear and show cause why he should not be held in contempt and scheduled a hearing for June 25. At the hearing on June 25, Mike requested that counsel be appointed and the hearing was continued to August 13. The hearing was continued again several times for various reasons including the request of counsel, holidays, and the COVID-19 pandemic. The hearing was finally held on August 24, 2020, and the following evidence was heard.

Liea testified that she had just started a new job as a special education paraprofessional the Monday prior to the hearing. She had no other sources of income at the time. Prior to that job, Liea worked a series of freelance odd jobs including cleaning houses, mowing lawns, and painting. A copy of Mike's child support payment history was entered into evidence, showing that as of August 18, 2020, Mike owed $14, 159.03 in child support arrears and $1, 403.49 in interest, totaling $15, 690.30. Liea testified that she had not received any money from Mike that was not reflected in that payment history. Regarding Mike's assets, Liea explained that she and Mike bought a house in Dix, Nebraska, during the marriage, and that she received a letter sometime between 2016 and 2019 that the house debt had been paid off. Mike also independently owned a second home in Dix during the marriage. Liea opined that Mike is physically able to work.

Mike testified that at the time of the hearing, he was living in Mealy, Oklahoma, having moved there in January 2020. Mike lives with a family member for free and also does not pay for food or utilities. He is currently unemployed. Mike testified that he does not have a bank account or financial investments and that he is unable to borrow money from any financial institutions or family members.

Regarding his assets, Mike testified that there were several vehicles titled in his name, all of which were totaled or inoperable. Mike agreed that he had owned the home in Dix, identified by Liea as the home they purchased together during the marriage. Mike's testimony regarding this property was vague but he suggested that he had "signed it over" to Hannah Evans, who had been making payments on the property since 2016, when he became unable to afford the payments and taxes on the property. Mike is not married to Hannah, but she legally changed her last name to Evans. Mike was unsure if he still owned the property at the time of trial or if Hannah had already taken over ownership. Mike indicated that the home was originally purchased approximately 20 years ago for $95, 000, and that the amount owed on it is "probably pretty close to the same." Leia's attorney offered into evidence a tax assessment printout on this property, but the district court sustained a hearsay objection and the document was not received in evidence.

A letter was entered into evidence showing that Mike's second home in Dix was sold by tax sale in September 2016, but that it had been redeemed in December 2019. Mike claimed that Hannah was the one who redeemed the property, however, Mike's name was listed as the property owner on this letter.

A printout of a business website and a business listing with the Miniature Dairy Goat Association were both entered into evidence, showing that Mike and Hannah Evans were the owners of Running Drum Ranch. Printouts from the Running Drum Ranch Facebook page show that the ranch sells various products including livestock, honey, and nutritional supplements. However, when asked about this business at trial, Mike testified "that [the business] has nothing to do with [him]" and that Hannah owns the business on her own. Mike generally evaded questions about the ranch, stating that he did not have any knowledge of the ranch or the business, despite his name being on several exhibits relating to the business.

Mike testified that after high school, he worked on drilling rigs and made approximately $18 or $19 per hour, until he fell off the rig in 2010 and injured his neck and lower back. Mike has not been employed full time since that injury. Mike does not have medical records to substantiate his injury claims. He has not received any disability benefits, however, he had recently applied for social security disability benefits, and had a hearing scheduled in September 2020.

Mike was last employed in 2010 as a farmer in Cheyenne County and prior to that he had worked at an auto shop; however, neither employment lasted long because Mike claimed he was unable to stand for long without neck pain. Mike testified that he currently spends approximately ninety percent of his days...

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