KIMBERLEE R. GUIN APPELLANT
RICHARD D. MCWHORTER APPELLEE
FROM THE WASHINGTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 72DR-08-1917]
HONORABLE BETH STOREY BRYAN, JUDGE
Law Firm, by: Johnnie Emberton Rhoads, for appellant.
Everett, Wales & Comstock, by: John C. Everett; and
Smith, Cohen & Horan, PLC, by: Matthew T. Horan, for
MARK KLAPPENBACH, Judge
Guin appeals from an order of the Washington County Circuit
Court reducing the child-support obligation of appellee
Richard McWhorter. On appeal, Guin argues that the trial
court erred in failing to provide the required calculations
to support its order and in reducing child support for
improper reasons. We find no error and affirm.
their divorce in May 2009, the parties shared joint custody
of their four children pursuant to a child-custody and
support agreement incorporated into the decree. The agreement
provided that McWhorter would pay child support of $4800 a
month based on a formula set out therein plus twenty-eight
percent of his net bonuses. In February 2015, an order was
entered incorporating a mediation-settlement agreement
regarding the remaining two minor children. The agreement
provided that the parties would continue equal joint custody
of CM, but Guin's custody of ZM was reduced to
alternating weekends (from Thursday after school to Monday
morning). Additionally, the parties agreed to child support
of $5500 a month plus fifteen percent of McWhorter's net
February 2016, McWhorter filed a petition to modify child
support based on a reduction in his income. After a bench
trial, the trial court reduced McWhorter's child support
to $1700 a month and five percent of his net bonuses. Guin
a urologist employed by Washington Regional Medical Center,
introduced into evidence his past and current employment
contracts, his pay stubs, and his tax return. Prior to
January 2016, his base salary was $500, 000, and he had the
opportunity to earn more by taking additional call. Due to
the hospital's hiring of two additional urologists,
McWhorter's base salary was reduced in 2016 to $401, 550,
and only minimal extra call was available. He received a
bonus of approximately $60, 000 a year both before and after
the salary reduction. McWhorter also received income from an
time of the hearing, ZM was seventeen years old, and CM was
fourteen years old. McWhorter testified that he paid for the
children's clothes, cell phones, and insurance. He made
ZM's car payment and paid for gas, and he put money into
a bank account for ZM's use via a debit card. McWhorter
also paid for the children to train and compete at national
track meets. He said that these expenses had increased since
2014 because ZM was competing in more national meets.
McWhorter testified that he also paid for the expenses of the
parties' two older children, who were in college, and he
had significant credit card and student loan debt.
McWhorter's affidavit of financial means listed $16, 503
in monthly expenses, including debt payments.
testified that she worked at an event company she had started
three years earlier, but she had not yet earned any income
from it. She knew it would take time to make a profit, and
her goal was to earn income by the time child support ended.
She obtained a master's degree in journalism and
communications in May 2015. Guin said that she paid for
whatever the children needed but did not "throw money at
them" like McWhorter did. She said that McWhorter often
spent money on them preemptively and did not ask her to
contribute. Guin said that she bought clothing for the
children but that ZM often declined her offers of gas or food
money because he had the debit card funded by McWhorter. She
denied that McWhorter was now spending more money on track
meets because she claimed ZM was attending the same meets as
in the past. Guin said that she also contributed to her older
children's expenses. Her affidavit of financial means
showed $5605 in monthly expenses and an additional $1316 in
debt payments. She said that her new husband contributed
$4000 monthly to a joint account but that he had additional
expenses and debts.
standard of review from a child-support order is de novo on
the record, and we will not reverse a finding of fact by the
trial court unless it is clearly erroneous. Louton v.
Dulaney, 2017 Ark.App. 222, 519 S.W.3d 367. As a rule,
when the amount of child support is at issue, we will not
reverse the trial court absent an abuse of discretion.
Id. A trial court's conclusion of law, however,
is given no deference on appeal. Id. In reviewing a
trial court's findings regarding child support, 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. McGee v. McGee, 100
Ark.App. 1, 262 S.W.3d 622 (2007).
child-support scheme in Arkansas is governed by Arkansas
Supreme Court Administrative Order No. 10, which includes a
family-support chart that indicates the amount of support due
depending on the payor's income. Johnson v.
Young, 2017 Ark.App. 132, 515 S.W.3d 159. All orders
granting or modifying child support (including agreed orders)
shall contain the court's determination of the
payor's income, recite the amount of support required
under the guidelines, and recite whether the court deviated
from the family-support chart. Ark. Sup. Ct. Admin. Order No.
10(I) (2016). It is a rebuttable presumption that the amount
contained in the family-support chart is the correct amount
of child support to be awarded. Ark. Code Ann. §
9-12-312(a)(3)(B) (Repl. 2015). Only upon a written finding
or specific finding on the record that the application of the
family-support chart would be unjust or inappropriate, as
determined under established criteria set forth in the
family-support chart, shall the presumption be rebutted. Ark.
Code Ann. § 9-12-312(a)(3)(C). The court may grant less
or more support if the evidence shows that the needs of the
dependents require a different level of support. Ark. Sup.
Ct. Admin. Order No. 10(I).
change in circumstances must be shown before a court can
modify an order for child support, and the party seeking
modification has the burden of showing a change in
circumstances. McGee, supra. In determining
whether there has been a change in circumstances warranting
an adjustment in support, the court should consider
remarriage of the parties, a minor's reaching majority,
change in the income and financial conditions of the parties,
relocation, change in custody, debts of the parties,
financial conditions of the parties and families, ability to
meet current and future obligations, and the child-support
argues that the trial court failed to specify the basis for
its "drastic" reduction of the child support due
under the family-support chart or specify any reasoning for
reducing the bonus percentage. She claims that the court
erroneously based its decision on track-meet expenses claimed
by McWhorter and her lack of income even though those factors
were unchanged since the last order. She also claims ...