Specifically with regard to Rules of Make Past Due Child Support Executory, it is the movant who bears the burden of proof. The moving party must substantiate her claim with credible testimony that supports her claim. Furthermore, the finding of the trial court will not be disturbed unless the record establishes that a factual, reasonable basis does not exist and the finding is clearly wrong or manifestly erroneous. Under the manifest error standard of review, the only issue to be resolved by an appellate court is whether the trial court's conclusion was a reasonable one.
The parties were married, but eventually divorced. Upon divorce, they entered into a consent order with regard to child support. A portion of the consent judgment provided that after a specified date the father would pay a certain amount per month to the mother in a lump sum on a specified date each year. The court found that the lump sum payments were made retroactively for three years without the mother seeking redress. The mother sued, claiming that the payments should be made prospectively, as opposed to retrospectively. The trial court disagreed with the mother, and found that the evidence supported the finding that a course of conduct existed between the parties and that, based on such conduct, the father intended the payments to be retroactive and that the mother acquiesced. The mother appeals from the trial court's interpretation.
Did the trial court err in finding the language in the parties' contract to be ambiguous?
On appeal, the trial court's ruling and interpretation was affirmed. The appellate court held that the trial court did not err in finding the contract language to be ambiguous, nor did it err in applying state law to look at the parties' course of conduct as evidence of intent or in finding the course of conduct reflected that the parties intended that the lump sum child support payments be paid retrospectively.