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Lawskills.com Georgia Caselaw
PERTEET v. SUMNER.
36171.
JORDAN, Presiding Justice.
Contempt. Clarke Superior Court. Before Judge Barrow.
This is an appeal by the appellant from an order refusing to hold her ex-husband in contempt of court.
The Sumners were divorced in 1973 with an alimony award of $600 per month to the appellant and $600 per month child support. In March 1979, the appellant instituted contempt proceedings against appellee, alleging that he was in contempt for failure to pay an arrearage of $9,000 in child support.
The husband defended by showing that counting social security benefits the appellant had received for the children based on his disability due to an injury in 1975, he had more than satisfied his child support payments by approximately $5,000.
The trial court agreed, holding that the husband was entitled to credit for the social security payments against his liability for child support and found him not in wilful contempt of the decree. We granted the ex-wife's application for discretionary appeal.
The appellant's contention that the Horton decision applies only where the husband seeks a modification of child support payments in the future on the basis of social security benefits is without merit. The husband in Horton was not seeking a modification but rather seeking credit for past social security benefits received by the wife on behalf of the children. Kight v. Kight, 242 Ga. 563 (250 SE2d 451) (1978) is overruled to the extent that it suggests that the receipt of social security benefits cannot be credited to satisfy a child support obligation under the original decree.
The trial court further held that even if social security payments were not a valid credit against appellee's liability under the divorce decree, the appellee "has not wilfully and intentionally violated the decree of the court, and that he is not in contempt of court." Under all the facts of this case we cannot say that the trial court abused its broad discretion in failing to hold the appellee in wilful contempt. Crowder v. Crowder, 236 Ga. 612 (225 SE2d 16) (1976).
Harben & Hartley, Sam S. Harben, Jr., for appellee.
Fortson, Bentley & Griffin, Herbert T. Hutto, for appellant.
SUBMITTED APRIL 25, 1980 -- DECIDED JULY 16, 1980.
Friday May 22 01:06 EDT


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