FROM THE CRAIGHEAD COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, WESTERN DISTRICT
[NO. DR-2014-165] HONORABLE PAMELA HONEYCUTT, JUDGE AFFIRMED
Bristow & Richardson, PLLC, by: Kristofer E. Richardson,
Cobb & Byars, by: Kara L. Byars, for appellee.
PHILLIP T. WHITEAKER, Judge.
Jason Boyd appeals the order of the Craighead County Circuit
Court imputing income to him and ordering him to pay child
support based on that imputed figure. Boyd contends that the
circuit court erred as a matter of law in its application of
the "net-worth method" of calculating income for a
self-employed payor. We affirm.
and appellee Candace Crocker were engaged in a relationship
that led to the birth of a child, G.B. Crocker filed a
petition to establish paternity. Boyd admitted that he was
G.B.'s father, but the parties litigated the issues of
visitation, custody, and child support. The circuit court
granted custody of G.B. to Crocker, set a visitation schedule
for Boyd, and set the amount of child support. Boyd does not
appeal the court's rulings on custody or visitation;
rather, his only issue on appeal pertains to the issue of
determining an appropriate amount of child support, courts
are to refer to the family support chart contained in Supreme
Court Administrative Order Number 10, which provides a means
of calculating child support based on the payor's net
income. Browning v. Browning, 2015 Ark.App. 104, 455
S.W.3d 863; Cowell v. Long, 2013 Ark.App. 311. The
definition of income is intentionally broad and is designed
to encompass the widest range of potential income sources for
the support of minor children. Montgomery v. Bolton,
349 Ark. 460, 79 S.W.3d 354 (2002); Stuart v.
Stuart, 99 Ark.App. 358, 260 S.W.3d 740 (2007). Case law
has specifically held, however, that the definition of income
for purposes of support may differ from income for tax
purposes. See Stuart, supra; Huey v.
Huey, 90 Ark.App. 98, 204 S.W.3d 92 (2005); Delacey
v. Delacey, 85 Ark.App. 419, 155 S.W.3d 701 (2004);
Brown v. Brown, 76 Ark.App. 494, 68 S.W.3d 316
standard of review for an appeal from a child-support order
is de novo on the record, and we will not reverse a finding
of fact by the circuit court unless it is clearly erroneous.
Hall v. Hall, 2013 Ark. 330, 429 S.W.3d 219;
Brown v. Brown, 2014 Ark.App. 455, 440 S.W.3d 361.
In reviewing a circuit court's findings, we give due
deference to that court's superior position to determine
the credibility of the witnesses and the weight to be
accorded to their testimony. Brown, supra.
Moreover, it is the province of the trier of fact to resolve
conflicting testimony. Crismon v. Crismon, 72
Ark.App. 116, 34 S.W.3d 763 (2000). As a rule, when the
amount of child support is at issue, we will not reverse the
circuit court absent an abuse of discretion. Id.
However, a circuit court's conclusion of law is given no
deference on appeal. Id. With these standards in
mind, we examine the evidence received by the circuit court
and its rulings on the issue of child support.
circuit court had undisputed evidence that Boyd was a
self-employed farmer for purposes of calculating child
support. With respect to Boyd's income, Crocker took the
position at trial that Boyd lived an extravagant lifestyle
and could pay a higher amount of child support. Boyd, in
contrast, contended that his monthly income for calculating
child support was only $3, 500, based on his affidavit of
financial means. To support their respective positions,
Crocker and Boyd presented evidence of Boyd's bank
records, tax returns, and lifestyle.
Boyd's bank records, bank statements from his
family's farming business, dated March 2013 through
December 2014, were introduced into evidence. Total monthly
deposits by Boyd into that bank account ranged from $3, 500
to more than $10, 000. Bank records from his personal
checking account, dating from February 2013 to December 2014,
reflected deposits ranging from $5, 000 to nearly $25, 000
per month and total withdrawals or expenditures ranging from
$4, 900 to over $20, 000 per month. In response to this
evidence of deposits and withdrawals from his accounts, Boyd
did not disagree that he had deposited $131, 594 into his
checking account in 2013 and had not paid taxes on the money.
He also did not disagree that an average figure of
"about $14, 731 per month" had been deposited into
his checking accounts during 2014. Although Boyd testified
that the deposits into his account were "not all income,
" he also stated that he did not "have a source of
income other than this Boyd Farms checking account."
Despite the wide range of deposits and the large number of
months in which deposits in excess of $10, 000 were made,
Boyd asked the court to find his monthly income to be $3,
500, based on his affidavit of financial means.
respect to his tax returns, Boyd contended that his records
for the last three years showed that he had a negative income
on his tax returns and that he had "not paid any taxes
lately." The last time he recalled paying taxes was
"probably four years ago." Boyd claimed losses of
$285, 000 in 2012 and "about $200, 000" in each of
the last two years, but he was not certain whether the losses
were "a personal loss or a Boyd Farm loss or what."
Citing his 2012 Arkansas income tax form, Boyd claimed as his
total income negative $252, 000. He was "honestly not
sure" whether he had told the IRS that his income was a
negative $200, 000 to $300, 000 per year. He further asserted
that he "[did]n't deal with the accounting" and
hadn't "had to pay in any income taxes in the last
two years." He did not "recall reporting [his]
income to Social Security."
court also heard evidence about Boyd's lifestyle. Boyd
testified that he was living in a house that he had just
built for approximately $55, 000 on land that he owned. He
bought a new truck in 2014 for $50, 000 and had an $800 per
month car payment. He recently sold a boat for $51, 500 and
recently bought a camper and an ATV for $20, 000 and $18, 000
respectively. He sold a four-wheeler in 2014 for $7, 000, and
he sold his house in Paragould for $275, 000 "because
[he] couldn't afford the mortgage." Boyd also
admitted that he used his personal checking account to pay
expenses on things like a housekeeper, truck accessories,
boat insurance, lake visits and hotel rooms, payments on his
several vehicles, construction of his house, and, eventually,
child-support payments of $400 per month.
on the evidence presented at the hearing, the circuit court
imputed monthly income of $11, 105 to Boyd and set his
child-support payments at $1, 606 per month. Boyd timely
appealed the circuit court's ruling, and he now argues
that the circuit court erred in the methodology used to
calculate his income.
appeal, Boyd argues that the circuit court committed
reversible error in calculating his child-support obligation
as a self-employed person. Pursuant to Administrative Order
No. 10(III)(c), for self-employed payors like Boyd,
"support shall be calculated based on the last two
years' federal and state income tax returns and the
quarterly estimates for the current year. . . ." Here,
the court found that Boyd was self-employed, had a farming
operation with his father, and had "reported a large
loss of income on his tax returns for several years, although
he claims to have no personal knowledge of his finances with
regard to income taxes." Noting that Boyd's 2014 tax
returns were not available, the court specifically found that
his 2012 and 2013 returns were unreliable. Pursuant to
Administrative Oder No. 10 (III)(c), when a court finds a
self-employed person's tax returns unreliable, "the
court shall consider the amount the payor is capable of
earning or a net worth approach based on property,
life-style, etc." ...