Friday, March 10, 2006

Case Law Development: Expert Testimony that Child Support Exceeds Average Cost of Child Rearing Not Basis for Downward Adjustment in Support

Father, who was originally ordered to pay over $8,000 a month child support based the parties' stipulation and on his annual income of over $540,000, moved to decrease his child support.  The Arkansas trial court agreed that his decrease in income to about $475,000 was a basis for adjusting downward his child support, but only in proportion to that change in income.  The court found that Father had not met his burden of proof that further downward adjustment was warranted based on the testimony of Father's economist expert.  The expert used a consumer expenditure survey published by the United States Department of Labor and concluded that the cost of raising two children from 2004 until the time that the youngest child reached majority will range between $18,000.00 and $ 22,000.00 per year. The Arkansas Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's decision to reject further downward adjustment.  Further, the court reversed the adjustment that the trial court did provide because, even with Husband's decrease in income, the amount of child support he would pay under Arkansas child support calculation chart was about the same as that ordered in the original decree.  While Father characterized his financial position as "dire" the court of appeals noted that he was able to afford a $70,000 engagement ring for his fiance and to donate $4,000 a month to charity.

Morehouse v. Lawson, 2006 Ark. App. LEXIS 200 (March 8, 2006)
Opinion on the web (last visited March 9, 2006 bgf)

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/family_law/2006/03/case_law_develo_11.html

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