By Leigh Jones
A former Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr partner has failed to convince the D.C. Court of Appeals to throw out a deadbeat-dad contempt order leveled against him.
William A. Wilson III, now a partner at Wilson International Law, appealed an earlier decision by D.C. Superior Court Judge Kaye Christian, which found that he willfully failed to pay retroactive child support totaling $156,000. Kaye later dissolved the contempt order after Wilson paid $83,972, an amount on which he and his ex-wife settled.
In its Jan. 28 decision, the D.C. Court of Appeals found “no reason” to disturb Kaye’s 26-page ruling, which determined that Wilson had been fully able to pay the $12,617 per month to support his three minor children.
Wilson was a partner at WilmerHale from 2000 to 2003, when he and his ex-wife, Francesca V. Craig, divorced. Before that, he was head of the Hong Kong office for Kelley Drye & Warren.
He declined to comment on the decision.
Wilson, who is represented by David Schertler of Schertler & Onorato in Washington, argued on appeal that he did not have the cash, savings or investments to make the child support payments. He also argued that paying the arrearages had forced him to unfairly suffer a penalty and pay taxes for withdrawing from his retirement account.
The three-judge panel was not sympathetic. “We have no reason to disturb the judge’s conclusion, which is based on clear and convincing evidence, that [Wilson] willfully failed to meet his retroactive obligation despite the ability to discharge it,” wrote Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby. Also on the panel were judges Inez Smith Reid and William Pryor.
The lower court, in finding contempt, had concluded that Wilson had $613,500 in his retirement account, a $200,000 home equity line of credit and about $110,000 in tax overpayments.
The appeals court decision also rejected Wilson’s appeal to overturn an earlier ruling that modified a joint custody agreement to give sole custody to Wilson’s ex-wife. The court modified the original agreement because the couple was unable to adhere to it due to hostility between them.
Representing Craig was Kristin Henrikson, an associate at Delaney McKinney.