In re the Marriage of Sylvia Dean, f/k/a Sylvia Cook, Appellant, and Andre L. Cook, Appellee.
County District Court No. 06DR65 Honorable Theresa M.
Cisneros, Judge Honorable Evelyn H. Sullivan, Magistrate
Dean, Pro Se.
& West, P.C., Daniel A. West, Colorado Springs, Colorado,
1 In this post-decree dissolution of marriage proceeding,
Sylvia Cook (mother), now known as Sylvia Dean, appeals the
district court's adoption of the magistrate's finding
of contempt and award of attorney fees in favor of Andre L.
Cook (father). We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand
for further proceedings.
2 Mother and father divorced in 2006. At that time, the court
named mother the primary residential parent for the
parties' two children but allowed the parties to
determine their own "liberal parenting time"
3 Six years later, mother moved to stop father's
parenting time, asserting that he had not seen the children
in more than two years and had no interest in seeing them.
Father responded that mother had denied him parenting time,
and he requested a more formal parenting time schedule.
4 Eventually the parties stipulated to, and the court
adopted, a parenting time arrangement. As now relevant, the
parties agreed that father (1) would have parenting time
every Wednesday from after school until 7:00 p.m. and (2)
"shall be entitled to have Thanksgiving this year 
with the children from 10:00 a.m. on Thursday until taking
the children to school on the following Monday morning."
5 Father later filed a verified motion and affidavit for
contempt, requesting remedial contempt sanctions for
mother's noncompliance with the two above-mentioned
portions of their stipulation.
The following reflects how the contempt motion proceeded:
• The advisement hearing occurred on March 3, 2014.
• The parties appeared for the contempt hearing on May
19, 2014, but agreed to set it over until September 22, 2014,
so that they could participate in a settlement meeting. The
parties also agreed that mother would contact a therapist,
and the court ordered her to start therapy within thirty
• On September 22, the contempt hearing was set over to
October 6, 2014.
• The magistrate began the contempt hearing on October 6
and finished it on November 3, 2014, when she found mother in
remedial contempt and ordered her to pay father's
attorney fees. The magistrate further ordered that mother
could purge the contempt by allowing father to have the
children during their 2014 Thanksgiving break.
• Sentencing occurred on January 28, 2015, at which time
the court ordered mother to pay father's $4926.25 in
6 Mother timely filed a C.R.M. 7 petition challenging the
magistrate's orders. The district court adopted the
magistrate's orders on review.
Applicable Legal Principles
7 C.R.C.P. 107 provides the authority under which courts are
to conduct contempt proceedings. See In re Marriage of
Nussbeck, 974 P.2d 493, 498 (Colo. 1999). Remedial
sanctions for contempt must be supported by findings of fact
establishing that the contemnor (1) did not comply with a
lawful order of the court; (2) knew of the order; and (3) had
the present ability to comply with the order. In re
Marriage of Cyr, 186 P.3d 88, 92 (Colo.App. 2008).
8 Like the district court, we must accept the
magistrate's factual determinations as to contempt unless
there is no support in the record for those findings or the
findings are clearly erroneous. See C.R.M. 7(a);
In re Marriage of Webb, 284 P.3d 107, 108-09
(Colo.App. 2011); see also In re Parental
Responsibilities Concerning G.E.R., 264 P.3d 637, 638-39
(Colo.App. 2011) (reviewing court engages in a second layer
of appellate review of the magistrate's order, and must
accept the magistrate's findings unless they are clearly
erroneous). "A court's factual findings are clearly
erroneous only if there is no support for them in the
record." Van Gundy v. Van Gundy, 2012 COA 194,
Sua Sponte Reconsideration of Sanctions
9 Mother first contends that the magistrate improperly
reconsidered the May 19 order when, on November 3, she
changed the nature of the sanctions imposed. We reject this
contention because no sanctions were imposed until November
3, when the magistrate found mother guilty of remedial
contempt. See Wright v. Dist. Court, 192 Colo. 553,
555, 561 P.2d 15, 17 (1977) (finding of contempt must precede
imposition of sanctions).
10 We acknowledge that the magistrate entered an order on May
19 requiring mother to engage in therapy. However, the record
reveals that the magistrate simply adopted the parties'
stipulation concerning the same; the order was not imposed to
force mother's compliance with the parenting time
stipulation. See C.R.C.P. 107(a)(5) (defining
Evidence and Findings
11 Mother's second, third, and fifth contentions
challenge the evidence presented at the contempt and
sentencing hearings, the weight placed on that evidence by
the magistrate, and the findings and inferences the
magistrate made in her orders. We do not disturb the orders.
12 A party seeking review of a magistrate's order has the
burden to provide the reviewing court with a record
justifying the rejection or modification of that order.
In re Marriage of Rivera, 91 P.3d 464, 466
(Colo.App. 2004); see also Yadon v. Southward, 64
P.3d 909, 912 (Colo.App. 2002) (pro se litigants must adhere
to the same rules of procedure applicable to attorneys).
13 If an appellant argues "that a finding or conclusion
is unsupported by the evidence or is contrary to the
evidence, the appellant shall include in the record a
transcript of all evidence relevant to such finding or
conclusion." C.A.R. 10(b). Where the appellant fails to
provide such a transcript, the reviewing court must presume
that the record ...