Williegary2a Successful Florida lawyer Willie Gary cannot be held in contempt over a child-support dispute involving twins he fathered with an Atlanta woman, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled Monday.

Gary, who is married with four children, had a relationship with Diana Gowins when she lived in Florida in 2000. In July 2002, Gary reached an out-of-court settlement to pay $14,000 per month per child.

Gary later contended he meant to pay only $14,000 a month for both children. But in July 2005, Fulton Superior Court Judge Cynthia Wright ruled that Gary, who owns his own 737 jet and lives in a sprawling $6 million waterfront home, owed $28,000 a month for the two children.

Since the 2002 settlement, Gary paid at least $14,000 a month in support. But after Wright’s ruling, Gowins demanded that Gary pay $462,000 he had not paid in support for the other child.

The dispute made its way to the Georgia Court of Appeals, which ruled that Gary could be held in contempt for failure to pay the full amount. Contempt charges for deadbeat dads can lead to jail.

But on Monday, the state Supreme Court said Wright could not hold Gary in contempt for failing to pay the support for both children from July 2002 to April 2005. Wright’s previous order stated "the judgment did not include an a award of back child support," the Supreme Court ruled.

"I’m thrilled," said Atlanta lawyer Tamar Oberman Faulhaber, who represents Gary. "Justice is being done."

Gowins’ lawyer, Robert Moss, expressed disappointment but said Gowins still might try to get the money. "If the money is truly owed, we can collect it through some other enforcement action, not contempt," Moss said.

In 2006, Gary won a brief victory when Wright reduced the child-support payments to $5,000 a month. But the Court of Appeals has since directed Wright to clarify that ruling, Faulhaber said.

SOURCE: AJC.com in an article by Bill Rankin