The parties were married on October 13, 1995, and that they separated on or about February 27, 1997. The parties entered into a mediation settlement agreement on January 14, 1998, and upon due notice to wife, depositions were taken of husband and his corroborating witness on April 16, 1998. Plaintiff wife filed for divorce from defendant husband. The parties entered into a mediation settlement agreement that provided, in part, that defendant would deliver to plaintiff certain separate property that was listed on a separate document. During depositions, defendant testified that he was asking the court to ratify, affirm, and incorporate the agreement into the final divorce decree. Accordingly, the decree expressly stated that the agreement was incorporated therein, pursuant to Va. Code § 20-109.1. Several months later, on plaintiff filed a motion to show cause why defendant should not be held in contempt of this court’s final decree of divorce.
- Whether the defendant should be held in contempt for failing to comply with the final decree of divorce by not delivering plaintiff’s separate property to her, as provided in the mediation agreement that was incorporated in the decree under Va. Code § 20-109.1?
The Court states that the mediation settlement agreement dated January 14, 1998, was ratified, confirmed, approved, and incorporated by reference into the final decree of divorce upon the request of husband, by counsel, and with the consent of wife, by counsel, pursuant to § 20-109.1 of the Code of Virginia. This court has therefore ruled the mediation settlement agreement to be a valid agreement between the parties, and this court will not now alter that ruling. The Court finds that the husband to be in indirect civil contempt of this court for his failure to comply with paragraph 9 of the mediation settlement agreement, as ratified, confirmed, approved, and incorporated by reference into the decree entered June 12, 1998. Husband could purge the contempt and avoid the fine by delivering to wife that property which was specified in the agreement.
The Court held that the Defendant was found to be in indirect civil contempt and ordered to pay a fine to plaintiff for failure to comply with the terms of the mediation agreement because the agreement was expressly incorporated into the decree and was therefore enforceable through the court’s contempt power. Defendant could purge himself of the contempt by delivering plaintiff’s property to her. cost of mediation