Voyles v. VoylesAnnotate this Case
Appellant James Voyles (Husband) and appellee Tara Voyles (Wife) were divorced in February 2015. In December 2015, Husband filed a petition in which he sought to hold Wife in contempt of the property distribution provisions of the divorce decree, in contempt of various portions of the parenting plan, and by later amendment sought to be named as the child’s primary physical custodian. Wife filed her own petition for modification and contempt, in which, among other things, she sought to modify the parenting plan incorporated into the divorce decree. Husband answered Wife’s petition and filed a counterclaim, again requesting in relevant part, a modification of custody to award him full or joint physical custody of the child. Wife moved to dismiss Husband’s petition for contempt and his counterclaim to her petition. Pursuant to a rule nisi, the trial court consolidated the two cases and conducted a joint hearing, at which Husband was not present. The trial court then entered a joint order granting Wife’s motion to dismiss Husband’s contempt petition (as amended) and his counterclaim to her petition; granting her motion to find Husband in contempt; granting her petition to modify the 2015 divorce decree with respect to various aspects of the parenting plan; and ordering Husband to pay past due unreimbursed health care expenses and attorney fees. Acting pro se, Husband filed a motion in which he sought to set aside the joint order and sought a new hearing on the ground that he was unaware of the hearing date because he had not received proper notice of it. After conducting a hearing, the trial court entered another order denying Husband’s motion to set aside and for a new hearing. Husband then filed a notice of appeal directed to the Court of Appeals seeking review of the latter order, and the Court of Appeals transferred the case to the Supreme Court. An issue remained as to whether Husband followed the proper procedure for seeking appellate review. The Supreme Court concluded he did not, and that the appeal had to be dismissed. The Court dismissed this case by opinion, as opposed to the usual dismissal order, so that it could clarify the law and provide guidance regarding which appellate procedure should be followed in a case like this one where the issue raised on appeal concerns a matter other than custody (here, whether the trial court properly denied Husband’s motion to set aside).