Coppedge v. CoppedgeAnnotate this Case
Appellant Bradley Coppedge (husband) appealed a trial court’s order denying his petition for modification of child custody and visitation and holding him in contempt of a final divorce decree. He and appellee Cathering Coppedge (wife) were divorced in 2006. At the time the final decree was entered, husband and wife had two minor daughters who attended private school and summer and after-school care. In the spring of 2010, wife decided to remove the children from summer care and hired a babysitter to provide summer and after-school child care for the children in her home. In May 2010, husband filed a petition seeking modification of the final decree’s child custody and visitation awards. Husband subsequently reduced the amount of his monthly child support payments by the amount of his share of the cost of sending the children to after-school and summer care. Wife answered and counterclaimed for contempt, arguing, among other things, that husband had failed to pay approximately $7,000 in child support, an amount determined by calculating what husband would have been required to pay if the children were still attending after-school and summer care programs. The trial court concluded as a matter of law that the final divorce decree did not “confine these parties to [the summer care program, St. Luke] after care or summer camp, and that [husband] was not entitled to reduce child support without a Court order.” Husband’s motions for new trial and reconsideration were denied. The Supreme Court affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded. "Applying general rules of contract construction, we cannot agree with the trial court’s conclusion that the relevant language of the decree unambiguously imposed upon husband an obligation to pay for a proportionate share of the cost of the babysitter hired by wife." The Supreme Court reversed on this issue, and affirmed in all other respects.