JOHNSON V. JOHNSON
FAMILY LAW: MODIFYING CHILD SUPPORT, SPLIT CUSTODY SITUATION
PANEL: NICKELL PRESIDING; KELLER, KNOPF CONCUR
DATE RENDERED: 08/24/2007
COA affirmed final order of the Franklin Family Court that recalculated father’s child support obligation.
David and Sherri Johnson separated agreeing that each parent would also have two uninterrupted weeks of summer vacation with the child. Rather than figuring child support pursuant to Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS) 403.212(3), David and Sherri chose instead to calculate it using the split custody arrangement set forth in KRS 403.212(6)(b). A worksheet attached to the signed and notarized agreement lists Sherri’s monthly gross income as $2,241.00 and David’s as $5,315.00. They listed the base monthly support for one child at $891.00 which is the amount listed in the guidelines table for one child with a combined monthly adjusted parental gross income of $7,600.00. Based upon these figures, they agreed David would pay to Sherri $356.40 in monthly child support and the parties would equally divide child care expenses plus the cost of their daughter’s health insurance and any additional medical, dental, or prescription drug expenses.
Modifying a child support obligation is generally within the sound discretion of the court, and the COA will not disturb a family court’s findings unless the decision was arbitrary, unreasonable, unfair, or unsupported by sound legal principles – “as long as the trial court gives due consideration to the parties’ financial circumstances and the child’s needs, and either conforms to the statutory prescriptions or adequately justifies deviating therefrom."
By statute, proof of a deviation of 15% or more “in the amount of support due per month shall be rebuttably presumed to be a material change in circumstances.” KRS 403.213(2). Conversely, any change that is less than 15% is “rebuttably presumed not to be a material change in circumstances
In light of conflicting testimony, it would not have been an abuse of discretion for the family court to modify the agreement of the parties and to recalculate child support without reference to the split custody arrangement David and Sherri originally envisioned. Affirmed.