Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Case Law Development: Contempt for Violating Sealed Records Order in Divorce Action

The Louisiana Court of Appeals provides an interesting case study on the difficulties of controlling speech of divorcing spouses.  In this case, wife had made allegations of abuse against husband in the divorce proceeding and was unable to prove the allegations.  The divorce record was sealed and the court ordered that "each party shall refrain from making disparaging comments of any kind about each other to the minor children; and shall also refrain from harassing or annoying conduct directed at each other."  When wife passed out copies of the divorce petition containing the allegations of abuse to fellow parishioners at church, the court held her in criminal contempt.  Wife wrote letters to friends and family which described her ongoing disputes with her ex husband but did not repeat the allegations of abuse.  The trial court once again held Wife in contempt; however, the court of appeals reversed, finding that the letters did not violate the court's order that Wife not repeat the allegations of abuse.

Arrington v. Arrington, 2006 La. App. LEXIS 971 (April 26, 2006)

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