Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer
An Alabama woman has been in jail for more than three months from the fallout of a divorce case, but sources tell Legal Schnauzer that her financial woes date to a fire that destroyed her home about six years ago. That means Bonnie Cahalane (Knox) Wyatt's problems might stem from an earlier divorce case, not the one for which she currently is jailed.
From 2002 to 2005, Ms. Wyatt went through a protracted divorce from Bobby Knox, the president of Shelby Concrete Inc. The company's corporate office is in Montgomery, with locations at Clanton, Alabaster, and several other sites around the state. A document from that action shows that Bobby Knox threatened to burn the marital home to the ground if his wife tried to get it in the divorce.
That document was filed in December 2002, and roughly four years later, the former Mrs. Bobby Knox did, in fact, see her house burn to the ground. She was in the process of recovering from that when she married Harold Wyatt in late 2008. The couple separated roughly 10 months later, and Harold Wyatt claims by then he had spent a substantial sum of money in an effort to get the house back into shape.
A hand-written settlement agreement, which does not appear to be final or official and was written by opposing counsel, shows that Ms. Wyatt was to pay Mr. Wyatt $165,000 for his equity share in the home. When she failed to pay that amount, Chilton County District Judge Sibley Reynolds ordered her arrest for contempt of court. She has been in the Chilton County Jail since July 26, and it appears her incarceration might last longer than did her marriage to Harold Wyatt.
Bonnie Wyatt's incarceration, at best, is highly questionable. At worst, it is bogus, utterly without basis in fact or law. One of several lawyers to represent Ms. Wyatt stated the following in a Motion to Amend the final order of divorce:
Lastly, there was no meeting of the minds as evidenced by any document adopted and incorporated into the Decree by the Court. There is also no evidence of testimony provided by either party.
Based on our review of the case file, both of those statements are true. The Final Order of Divorce stands on its own; it does not include a settlement agreement. And we see no sign that the decree was based on testimony of any kind.
So why is Bonnie Wyatt in jail? On the surface, Harold Wyatt looks like the responsible party. But we suspect Ms. Wyatt's previous husband, Bobby Knox, deserves serious scrutiny.
A host of court documents from multiple cases, in both state and federal court, suggest Bobby Knox is a wealthy guy with a habit of thuggish behavior toward his employees in general and women in particular. We will look at a number of cases in upcoming posts, but for now, let's focus on a divorce case styled Bonnie S. Knox v. Bobby L. Knox.
Did Bobby Knox act with good faith in this matter? Well, consider this: Ms. Knox filed for divorce in December 2002, and the case was jointly dismissed in September 2003, with husband and wife apparently deciding to reconcile.
What happened next? Roughly two months later, Bobby Knox sued Bonnie Knox for divorce. Did he plan this all along, once he got her to agree to dismiss her case? It sure looks that way.
We should note that Ms. Knox's lawyer in the case was William E. Swatek, of Pelham. That's the same Bill Swatek who has caused so many legal headaches for Mrs. Schnauzer and me--the same Bill Swatek who has a 30-year history of disciplinary issues with the Alabama State Bar, including a suspension of his license for acts of "fraud, dishonesty, misrepresentation, and deceit." Swatek also has a habit of screwing over his female clients in divorce cases.
Did Bill Swatek fail to take action that would have protected his client from having the tables turned on her? Our guess is that the answer probably is yes.
What kind of a guy is Bobby Knox? Consider this from a Verified Petition for Ex Parte Order that Bonnie Knox filed on December 4, 2002:
The Defendant (Mr. Knox) has further threatened the Plaintiff (Ms. Knox) stating that if she got the home of the parties, asked for the home of the parties, or was awarded the home of the parties on a temporary basis or permanently, that he would just burn the house to the ground. This comment was made in front of the parties' seven year old child, Bobby Jr., and it upset him so much that he pointed out to his father that if he burned the house down, that he (Bobby Jr.) would burn up in the house too.
Roughly four years later, after the divorce had been finalized, Ms. Knox's house did, in fact, burn down. Is that a coincidence--or did someone make it happen? And what role did the fire play in causing Bonnie Cahalane (Knox) Wyatt to become a prisoner in the Chilton County Jail?
(To be continued)