Opinion No. 100
from the District Court of the Fifth Judicial District of the
State of Idaho, Blaine County. Hon. Robert J. Elgee, District
decision of the district court is reversed and the case is
remanded for further proceedings.
Shoufler Miller Johnson, LLP, Boise, for appellant Robert
Kantor. Scot M. Ludwig argued.
Thompson Smith Woolf & Anderson, PLLC, Idaho Falls, for
respondent Sondra Kantor. Marty R. Anderson argued.
one of two consolidated cases that Robert and Sondra Kantor
appealed to this Court; the other is Kantor v.
Kantor, Docket No. 41946. The issues in this appeal
relate to a Property Settlement Agreement (PSA) and judgment
of divorce that were both signed in April of 2012. This
dispute was initiated in the magistrate division of the
district court in October of 2013, when Sondra filed a motion
to incorporate the parties' PSA into the parties'
judgment of divorce. Rejecting Robert's argument that it
lacked jurisdiction to merge the PSA and judgment of divorce,
the magistrate court entered a supplemental decree of divorce
that incorporated the terms of the parties' PSA. Sondra
then initiated contempt proceedings against Robert. After
Robert unsuccessfully moved to dismiss the contempt charges
for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, the parties reached
a stipulated resolution of the contempt proceedings which
resulted in a judgment that Robert was in contempt. The
stipulation permitted Robert to appeal the denial of his
motion to dismiss. Robert appealed and the district court
affirmed the judgment of contempt. We reverse the decision of
the district court.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
and Sondra were married for forty-three years before they
divorced in 2012. As a part of their divorce, Robert and
Sondra entered into a PSA on April 25, 2012, which divided
the parties' considerable interests in property, real
estate holdings, and business entities. However, the PSA did
not result in an entirely clean break as it left many of
Robert and Sondra's joint business ventures intact. Thus,
the parties still maintain a number of ties. On April 30,
2012, the magistrate court entered a judgment of divorce. The
PSA was not presented to the magistrate court prior to entry
of the judgment.
the PSA was not incorporated into the parties' judgment
of divorce, the PSA provided:
MAY BE SUBMITTED TO COURT:
The parties agree that this agreement shall not initially
be submitted to the court but shall be kept private between
the two parties. However, if either party believes there is
a need to seek court involvement with regard to any
provision, that party may submit this agreement to the
court and upon request the court shall incorporate this
agreement as a supplemental judgment of the court.
October 17, 2013, Sondra filed a motion to incorporate the
PSA into the parties' original judgment of divorce.
Robert initially objected, but he withdrew his objection and
joined in Sondra's request that the PSA be merged.
parties litigated as to the effective date that the PSA
should be deemed merged into the judgment. On December 20,
2013, the magistrate court entered a Supplemental Decree that
merged and incorporated the terms of the PSA "nunc
pro tunc for October 18, 2013."
filed a five count motion for contempt on February 18, 2014.
Robert filed a Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss the contempt
proceedings based upon lack of subject matter jurisdiction,
arguing that res judicata prevented the magistrate from
reopening its judgment. The magistrate court denied
Robert's motion to dismiss, stating that it was not
modifying the original judgment of divorce. The parties
settled the contempt proceeding with Robert admitting to a
single count of contempt and agreeing to make various
payments to Sondra. As part of the agreement, Robert reserved
the right to appeal from the denial of his motion to dismiss
for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
appealed. On January 22, 2015, the district court issued its
decision on appeal. The district court affirmed, holding that
the parties could elect to enforce the terms of the PSA by
way of contempt proceedings rather than an independent action
for breach of contract. The district court thereafter awarded
Sondra attorney fees and costs. Robert timely appealed to
II.STANDARD OF ...