Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
Parents not only have a universal and moral duty to support and maintain their minor children, but they also have a statutory duty. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 405.020. And child support is a statutory duty intended to benefit the children not the parents. The legal obligation to support children remains until the children are emancipated. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 403.213(3). In light of the statutory and moral imperatives for child support, it is the duty of the family court to consider the minutiae and details necessary to fashion a reasonable child support order. It is not the province of an appellate court to delve into these details.
Peter R. Ciampa and Cynthia L. Ciampa (hereinafter "Cindy") were married in 1988. Three daughters were born of the marriage. In November 2005, they separated and filed for dissolution of the marriage. A decree of dissolution was granted on December 4, 2006. On March 31, 2008, the family court entered supplemental findings of fact and decree, which incorporated a partial separation agreement and property settlement, crafted by the parties on March 24, 2008, following a mediation conference. This issue on appeal is child support. The pertinent history of child support begins with the previously-mentioned property settlement agreement. Therein, Peter agreed to provide Cindy with $6,000 per month in child support for their three daughters. Next, in June 2010, when the parties' oldest daughter turned 18, Cindy made a motion, which among other things, included a request for modification of child support. The family court held a hearing on the various issues including child support. An order was entered on July 6, 2010, wherein the family court made extensive findings regarding reasonable living expenses for the remaining two minor children and ordered that Peter's monthly child support payment remain at $6,000 per month. Next, in June 2012, Peter moved for a modification of child support because the second daughter would turn eighteen in July 2012, and he would only be responsible for child support for one child. A hearing was held on October 8, 2012. Subsequently, the family court entered findings of fact and an order modifying child support on October 17, 2012. This order reduced the child support monthly payment from $6,000 to $5,800.
Thereafter, Peter made a motion to alter, amend, or vacate, or in the alternative, make more specific findings. On December 17, 2012, after a hearing on the motion, the family court made additional findings but denied the request to reduce the amount of its original, monthly child support. Peter appealed from this order.
Was the child support amount set by the family court erroneous?
The court held that the trial court did not err by setting child support outside of the guidelines under Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 403.212(5) where the parties' income exceeded the highest annual income level set forth in the guidelines. The expenses submitted by the mother were adequately substantiated by documentation. There was no abuse of discretion with regard to the amount of household expenses allocated to a child. Imputing income to a mother would have had no impact on the calculations. The amount of child support was not unreasonable because it was based on a child's expenses and the parents' resources. The trial court disallowed some of the mother's claimed expenses and considered the reasonable day-to-day needs of the child.