A former Thomaston doctor who has repeatedly refused to get a sufficient life insurance policy as ordered by judges in his divorce case will have to serve 30 days in jail, the state's highest court has ruled.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court upheld, in an April 4 decision, a contempt order imposed against Dr. Edward J. Harshman. The court ordered him to serve the jail sentence immediately.

The sentence will be imposed once final paperwork is sent by the Supreme Court to the Knox County court.

At issue are repeated orders by Maine District Court judges that Harshman obtain a life insurance policy for $500,000 to benefit his ex-wife and their children.

Harshman had a $300,000 policy, which he allowed to lapse, claiming that since it was not up to the amount ordered by the court, that he did not need to maintain the policy.

The Maine Supreme Court justices said that claim by Harshman defied logic.

He has been given repeated opportunities over nearly two years to get a $500,000 policy,  but the justices stated in their ruling that he has maintained that someone of his age and health could not get such a large policy. The justices said Harshman provided no evidence that he was unable to get that amount of coverage. The justices also said Harshman did not try to see if he could leverage the former $300,000 policy to get an additional $200,000 in coverage.

The justices also pointed out that Harshman intentionally kept his income down and increased his expenses during the divorce proceedings.

The ruling stated that Harshman is the beneficiary of a substantial trust.

The ex-wife was represented by attorney Sarah Irving Gilbert of Camden, who pursued the contempt finding with the court.

Harshman was represented by attorney Andrews Bruce Campbell of Bowdoinham, according to the court documents.

Harshman had practiced in Thomaston, but has since moved to Florida.

"The sanction imposed, which was for the limited period of 30 days but which could well have been an open-ended sentence, should be imposed without delay," the justices ruled. "A continuing failure to comply with a court order, when the contemnor has the capacity to comply, can be punished by incarceration without an end date, so long as the contemnor is given the keys to his own freedom with the opportunity to purge himself of contempt while incarcerated."