Gooch v. GoochAnnotate this Case
Under the parties' 2012 divorce decree and incorporated settlement agreement, Terry Gooch was required to select a certain option for his retirement benefits, and to designate Nancy Gooch as the survivor beneficiary; under that option, Terry would receive life-time benefits, with a guarantee of ten years of payments, such that should he die within that period, payments would continue to his designated survivor beneficiary for the remainder of the guarantee period, referred to as “Life with 10-year guarantee.” However, Terry did not comply with this directive of the decree, instead selecting an entirely different retirement option, and naming his new wife as the survivor beneficiary thereunder; this designation was irrevocable. In December 2013, Nancy filed a petition for Terry to be held in contempt for his failure to comply with this portion of the decree. After a hearing, the trial court entered an order finding Terry in willful contempt of his obligations under the divorce decree, but determined that no available remedy existed; the court’s order also awarded Nancy $5,600 in attorney fees, which it struck in response to a motion for reconsideration by Terry. The Supreme Court granted Nancy’s application for discretionary appeal to determine whether the trial court was correct in ruling that there was no available remedy for Terry’s contempt. The Court concluded the trial court abused its discretion in failing to devise a remedy for Terry’s willful contempt. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court was reversed and the case remanded for further proceedings.