Maintenance and Child Support: BAILEY V. BAILEY (COA 9/21/2007)

BAILEY V. BAILEY
FAMILY LAW: CHILD SUPPORT (MAJORITY, DISABILITY); MAINTENANCE VS. CHILD SUPPORT
2006-CA-001188
PUBLISHED: AFFIRMING IN PART, VACATING IN PART, AND REMANDING WITH DIRECTIONS
PANEL: HOWARD PRESIDING; MOORE, GUIDUGLI CONCUR
BATH COUNTY
DATE RENDERED: 09/21/2007

Dad appealed TC’s judgment awarding Mom maintenance and child support. Dad contended that TC abused its discretion in considering their child’s future college expenses in determining the duration of the maintenance award.

During marriage, Dad was an emergency care physician and Mom was a nurse. Their son was 5 and they had been married 3 years when they separated. After trial, TC found that the parties’ combined income exceeded the child support guidelines and awarded Mom monthly child support of $2,072.34. TC also awarded Mom $2,000 monthly maintenance and established the duration of that award at twelve years, based upon Son’s age at that time of ten. Mom had asked for eight years of maintenance, to assist her until Son graduated from high school at age eighteen. TC awarded twelve years’ maintenance, so as to provide maintenance to Mom until Son graduated from high school, as well as four additional years beyond his graduation, so long as Son attended college full time with Mom’s assistance.

CA held that Dad has no legal duty to support Son after he is of age and that TC may not use the amount or duration of a maintenance award to indirectly award child support if the amount could not be directly awarded as child support. As the final four years of Mom’s maintenance award were expressly based on the impact on Mom of providing for Son’s college education, thereby indirectly compelling Dad to provide for Son’s college costs, TC abused its discretion in awarding the final four years of maintenance to Mom. Mom contended to CA that the duration of the maintenance award was necessary for her to maintain her standard of living. Because TC expressly stated that the monthly amount of its award was based on Mom’s standard of living, and that Son’s anticipated college expenses were the basis for the duration of the award, specifically for the last four years, CA disagreed. CA vacated the last four years of the maintenance award, affirmed remainder of order, and remanded to TC for entry of order consistent with CA opinion.

As digested by Michelle Eisenmenger Mapes, Diana L. Skaggs + Associates.

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