APPEAL FROM THE MARION SUPERIOR COURT. The Honorable Jeffrey L. Marchal, Commissioner. Cause No. 49D12-1105-DR-20488.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: COREY L. SCOTT, Indianapolis, Indiana.
CRONE, Judge. RILEY, J., and MATHIAS, J., concur.
Willie Jenkins (" Husband" ) appeals the trial court's order granting a motion to vacate contempt hearing filed by Mary Jenkins (" Wife" ). The sole issue presented for our review is whether the trial court erred when it granted Wife's motion and vacated the hearing without allowing Husband fifteen days to respond to the motion pursuant to local court rule. Concluding that it was not in the interests of justice for the trial court to ignore its rule and grant Wife's motion prior to allowing Husband time for response, we reverse and remand for further proceedings.
Facts and Procedural History
In October 2012, the trial court issued a decree dissolving the twenty-five-year marriage between Husband and Wife. The dissolution decree provided, in relevant part, that " [c]ertain items of Husband's personal property, such as clothing and business files, remain at the marital residence" and " Wife shall immediately secure any and all items of Husband's personal property and shall deliver these items to husband, via third party, no later than thirty (30) days following the date of this Decree." Appellant's App. at 35. Husband claims that Wife has failed to deliver the items to him and that, despite numerous attempts by him to retrieve the items, several items of his personal property remain in Wife's possession.
On November 27, 2013, Husband filed a petition for contempt and a request for attorney fees and a hearing asserting that Wife continued to disregard the trial court's order regarding the personal property. The trial court set the matter for hearing on February 28, 2014, and instructed Husband to provide the court and Wife with a list of the requested items of personal property. On January 30, 2014, Wife filed a motion to vacate the hearing asserting that she had delivered personal property to Husband, that all pending matters had been resolved, and that the hearing was no longer necessary. Wife's motion contained a statement that she had " contacted opposing counsel's office regarding this pleading and whether he objected to its filing on January 29, 2014; however, counsel has not responded prior to filing." Id. at 13. The trial court granted Wife's motion to vacate the hearing the following day on January 31, 2014.
Upon learning that the scheduled contempt hearing had been vacated, on February 4 and 7, 2014, Husband filed his response and objection, requesting the court to restore the hearing, arguing that the trial court erred when it granted Wife's motion to vacate without allowing him fifteen days to respond pursuant to local court rule. The trial court denied Husband's request. This appeal followed.
Discussion and Decision
We must initially note that Wife did not file an appellee's brief. When an appellee fails to submit a brief, we do not undertake the burden of developing appellee's arguments, and we apply a less stringent standard of review. Spencer v. Spencer, 990 ...