WILLIAM E. VICE APPELLANT
DEE ANNA VICE APPELLEE
FROM THE WASHINGTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 72E-93-2000]
HONORABLE DOUG MARTIN, JUDGE AFFIRMED
Law Firm, by: Adell Ralston, for appellant.
Clark, Butt, Carithers & Taylor, PLC, by: Constance G.
Clark, for appellee.
D. VAUGHT, Judge
William Vice appeals from an order of the Washington County
Circuit Court (1) dismissing his claim for a credit for the
overpayment of child support for his twenty-five-year-old
daughter, Julia, and (2) requiring him to pay $62.00 per week
in child support for his thirty-one-year-old disabled
daughter, Lisa. He also appeals from a judgment awarding $2,
694.70 in attorney's fees and costs to Julia and
Lisa's mother, appellee Dee Anna Vice. We affirm the
trial court's order and judgment.
and Dee Anna divorced in 1994. The divorce decree ordered
William to pay child support to Dee Anna for the benefit of
Lisa, who was born with disabilities, and Julia. In 2007, an
agreed order was entered whereby William agreed to pay child
support in the amount of $122 per week for the parties'
minor child, Julia, and the postminority support of Lisa due
to her special needs. William paid child support accordingly.
2014, William filed a petition for termination of child
support, alleging that Julia had reached the age of majority
and that his child-support obligation for her had ceased. He
also alleged that child support for Lisa should be terminated
because in February 2014 he had begun to receive Social
Security retirement benefits, and as a result, Lisa received
Social Security dependent benefits on his record in excess of
his child-support obligation. Dee Anna agreed that Julia had
reached the age of majority; however, Dee Anna denied that
William's support for Lisa should be terminated.
hearing, William contended that he had continued to pay his
child-support obligation for Julia well beyond the date she
reached the age of majority; therefore, that obligation
should be terminated. He also testified that he was no longer
able to work full-time due to multiple medical
conditions. He said that he was able to work only
part-time, earning $3, 000 per year. He stated that he did
not believe that there was any job he could do given his
physical condition and that he had not looked for other work.
While he testified that he had been denied Social Security
disability benefits, he stated that as of February 2014 he
had begun to receive $909 in monthly Social Security
retirement benefits. He agreed that Lisa has severe
disabilities and needs care, but he claimed his child support
for her should be terminated because she was receiving $553
per month in Social Security dependent benefits on his
record, which was greater than his child-support obligation.
He requested that his monthly child-support obligation be
credited by $553.
Anna testified that Lisa was born with spondyloepiphyseal
dysplasia congenital.Lisa is also hearing impaired and
cognitively and developmentally delayed. She has had multiple
surgeries (including five spinal surgeries and one hip
replacement) and therapies. According to Dee Anna, Lisa needs
care and cannot be left unattended for extended periods of
time. Dee Anna stated that she worked full time as a
special-education teacher and that while she was at work she
hired caregivers to stay with Lisa. Dee Anna further
testified that she suffers from several health problems,
including breast cancer and congestive heart failure.
Anna stated that before William received Social Security
retirement benefits, Lisa received $721 per month in Social
Security benefits based on her disability. When William began
to receive Social Security retirement, Lisa's monthly
disability benefit increased to $772. Dee Anna attributed $1,
260 in monthly expenses to Lisa's care. She testified
that if William did not pay child support, the $772 per month
Lisa received from Social Security would be insufficient to
care for her and that she (Dee Anna) did not have the
financial resources to cover the difference.
Evans, the deputy CEO of the Arkansas Support Network,
testified that he had been acquainted with Dee Anna and Lisa
for fourteen years. He confirmed that Lisa's disability
affected her physical, cognitive, intellectual, and
psychological functioning. He testified that $772 per month
was insufficient to support Lisa's needs.
the hearing, the trial court entered a letter opinion
dismissing William's request for a credit for the
overpayment of child-support payments for Julia because he
failed to plead it. The court did, however, find that
William's child-support obligation for Julia terminated
as a matter of law. Relying on Guthrie v. Guthrie,
2015 Ark.App. 108, 455 S.W.3d 839, the court next found that
Lisa, based on her disability, needed support; that Dee Anna
needed financial support to care for Lisa; and that William
owed a duty to continue to support Lisa. Despite
William's testimony that he was no longer able to work
full time, the court, pursuant to Administrative Order No.
10, imputed income of full-time minimum wage to him and
ordered him to pay chart support of $62 per week for Lisa.
supplemental letter opinion, the trial court found that based
on Arkansas Child Support Enforcement v. Hearst,
2009 Ark. 599, 357 S.W.3d 450, it was not permitted to
consider William's "Social Security Income (SSI)
benefits" as income. It reiterated that William's
testimony that he was unable to work lacked credibility, it
found that he was working below full earning capacity, it
imputed a minimum-wage income to him for purposes of child
support, and it again awarded a support-chart figure of $62
order was entered on November 10, 2015, detailing the
findings in the trial court's letter opinions. On
December 1, 2015, the court entered a judgment awarding Dee
Anna attorney's fees ...