By Lawrence Smith | Sep 9, 2013

CHARLESTON - A woman is seeking an order compelling a family law judge to hold a hearing to determine what back child support and alimony her ex-husband owes her.

Judge D. Mark Snyder is named as a co-respondent in a writ of mandamus filed by Carol Kay Brown. In her writ filed Aug. 12 in Kanawha Circuit Court, Brown alleges Snyder erred in cancelling a hearing in May on the status of monies her ex-husband Phillip, the other respondent, owes her since their divorce.

According to her petition, Carol filed for divorce from Philip on Nov. 30, 1981 citing, among other things, adultery. At the time, Carol was unemployed and caring for their infant child while Philip earned a yearly salary of $41,000.

At some point after she filed for divorce, Carol says she found work as a substitute teacher. What income she earned was “exhausted… to a great extent because of daycare and other expenses.“

In her petition, Carol avers that Philip, now a resident of Sarasota, Fla., after initially paying child support, “did not pay anything at all”

On an unspecified date, the petition states an unidentified special commissioner was appointed to hear the Browns' divorce. However, they failed “on how to resolve alimony, child support, custody and visitation, or even equitable distribution.“

According to the petition, “after many years of litigation and waiting,“ the Browns were granted a bifurcated divorce in which matters regarding child support and alimony would be “reserved for some future date.” However, Carol maintains that day never came.

Eventually, on April 13, Carol filed a motion for Snyder to hold a status hearing and enter a scheduling order. Though he scheduled one for May 23, Snyder on May 9 cancelled it citing “(1) the doctrine of laches, (2) the case has reached the point of being impossible to litigate, (3) ‘one of the original counsels of record is deceased’ and (4) ‘if there is any prejudice to any party due to delay it falls on the party of their counsel.’”

In her petition, Carol says Synder was duty-bound to hold a hearing regarding the remaining issues in her divorce if only to create a record, and a final order from which either she or Philip could appeal.

Also, she maintains for a case to be dismissed on the grounds of latches requires a factual inquiry which could’ve been done at the May 23 hearing or a late date.

Brown is represented by Charleston attorneys Christopher T. and Kelly C. Pritt.

The case is assigned to Judge Charles E. King, Jr.

Kanawha Circuit Court, case number 13-P-440

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