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Lombardi v. Lombardi

Supreme Court of Rhode Island

December 14, 2018

Tammy Lombardi
v.
Christopher Lombardi

          Providence County Family Court, P 15-1203, Patricia K. Asquith Associate Justice.

          For Plaintiff: Colleen M. Crudele, Esq.

          For Defendant: Christopher Lombardi, Pro Se.

          Suttell, C.J., Goldberg, Flaherty, Robinson, and Indeglia, JJ.

          ORDER

         The pro se defendant, Christopher Lombardi, [1] appeals from a March 22, 2017 Consent Order of the Family Court dismissing his "Motion for a New Judge" and further stating that "all child support issues between the parties including * * * the child support garnishment have been fully resolved by separate order * * *." This matter came before the Supreme Court for oral argument on October 25, 2018, pursuant to an order directing the parties to appear and show cause why the issues raised in this appeal should not be summarily decided. After a close review of the record and careful consideration of the parties' arguments (both written and oral), we are satisfied that cause has not been shown and that this appeal may be decided at this time.

         On July 9, 2015, the plaintiff, Tammy Lombardi, filed a complaint for divorce from Christopher. A Family Court justice held a hearing on October 18, 2016, after which, on December 15, 2016, a decision pending entry of final judgment of divorce entered. That decision provided, in pertinent part as follows: "Mother shall get the Social Security Disability dependency benefit for [Valerie], and father shall get the Social Security Disability dependency benefit for [Cedric]. Child support shall be left open at this time." Neither party ever filed a motion to vacate that decision, nor was that decision appealed to this Court. Christopher did, however, file several motions thereafter in Family Court, concerning which a hearing was held on March 22, 2017.

         Directly after the March 22, 2017 hearing, the parties engaged in a "Consent Meeting" at the Family Court, and an attorney from the Rhode Island Department of Human Services took part in that meeting. Eventually, both Tammy and Christopher signed the Consent Order that includes the following two provisions with which Christopher now takes issue:

"1. The parties agree that the following motions shall be dismissed:
"A. Defendant's Motion for a New Judge and Plaintiff's Motion to Dismiss Defendant's Motion for New Judge * * *.
"* * *
"3. That all child support issues between the parties including but not limited to the SSDI dependency benefits for both children and the child support garnishment have been fully resolved by Separate Order entered [b]y the state of RI arising from today's hearing date."

         The Family Court justice signed the Consent Order, and it entered on the same day as the Consent Meeting.

         On April 11, 2017, Christopher filed an appeal from the Consent Order, asking this Court to "strike item #1a of the * * * Consent Order" and to "strike item #3 of the * * * Consent Order."[2] Before this Court, Christopher declares with respect to item 1A that he "adamantly rejects the notion and language in its ENTIRETY;" and he also asserts that he, "at no time, agreed to the language" in item 3. (Emphasis in original.)

         Christopher's challenge to the Consent Order is clearly interlocutory.[3] As such, the only means for seeking appellate review by this Court would have been by the filing of a petition for issuance of a writ of certiorari. See Henderson v. Henderson, 818 A.2d 669, 671 (R.I. 2003). In Dale v. Dale, 37 A.3d 124 (R.I. 2012) (mem.), this Court stated that "[i]nterlocutory orders are reviewable only by way of writ of ...


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