FROM THE STONE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 69DR-99-40]
HONORABLE HOLLY L. MEYER, JUDGE
Murphy, Thompson, Arnold, Skinner & Castleberry, by: A.F.
"Tom" Thompson III and Kenneth P. "Casey"
Castleberry, for appellant.
Law Firm, a Professional Association, by: Amanda K. Wofford,
PHILLIP T. WHITEAKER, Judge
Kirby and Jeffrey Semeyn were divorced in January 2003.
Heather was awarded custody of the parties' two children,
and Jeffrey was ordered to pay child support. In April 2015,
Heather filed a petition for an increase in child support and
for arrears in child support. The Stone County Circuit Court
granted her request for an increase in child support but
denied her request for arrears. Both parties have appealed
the court's order. Heather appeals the denial of her
request for child-support arrearages, and Jeffrey
cross-appeals the award of increased child support. He also
appeals the trial court's award of interest and
case law is well settled. We review domestic-relations cases
de novo, but we will not reverse a trial court's finding
of fact unless it is clearly erroneous. Berry v.
Berry, 2017 Ark.App. 145, at 2, 515 S.W.3d 164, 166;
Hunter v. Haunert, 101 Ark.App. 93, 270 S.W.3d 339
(2007). A finding is clearly erroneous when, although there
is evidence to support it, the reviewing court is left with a
definite and firm conviction that the trial court has made a
mistake. Hunter, supra. In reviewing a
circuit court's findings of fact, we give due deference
to the court's superior position to determine the
credibility of the witnesses and the weight to be accorded to
their testimony. Brown v. Brown, 373 Ark. 333, 284
S.W.3d 17 (2008); Blalock v. Blalock, 2013 Ark.App.
659. Based on this standard of review, we affirm on direct
appeal and reverse and remand on cross-appeal.
addressing the specific arguments raised on direct appeal and
on cross-appeal, we must consider certain provisions of the
parties' divorce decree that are relevant to the
arguments presented. Heather and Jeffrey entered into a
property-settlement and child-custody agreement that was
eventually incorporated into their divorce decree. At the
time of the decree, Jeffrey was a student in medical school,
but the parties anticipated that he would eventually
graduate, begin and complete a residency, and then begin a
medical practice. With this in mind, they designed the
child-custody agreement to take care of their two children,
one of whom has Down syndrome and will require a lifetime of
care. With respect to support and maintenance of the
children, Heather and Jeffrey agreed:
5. Support and maintenance of the children.
[Jeffrey] shall pay child support in the amount of $407.40
per month beginning the 1st day of March, 1999 until he
begins his medical residency. The same shall become due and
payable on the 1st and 15th day of each month payable through
the Clerk of Stone County Circuit Court, HC 71, Box 1,
Mountain View, AR 72560.
The obligation of [Jeffrey] to pay child support shall
continue until said children have obtained the age of
eighteen (18) years, graduates from high school, dies or
marries, whichever event is the first to occur. However, due
to the disabilities of the parties minor child, [JPS], child
support shall continue during his lifetime. Child support
shall be computed annually and shall be commensurate with the
Arkansas Child Support Chart.
The parties acknowledge that [Jeffrey] is in arrears in child
support and medical/dental expenses. Said arrearage shall be
computed at the time [Jeffrey] begins, or should begin, his
medical residency. [Jeffrey] shall pay the sum of $300.00 per
month for six (6) months and the sum of $400.00 per month for
six (6) months thereafter in addition to the regular monthly
child support payment to cure such child support arrearage.
At the end of one (1) year from the date [Jeffrey] begins, or
should begin, his medical residency, the existing balance
shall be reevaluated and amortized over a period of four (4)
years at the current interest rate for a loan of similar
nature and he shall make monthly payment to pay said amount
in full within forty-eight (48) months. [Jeffrey] shall
compute the then current amount and supply calculations to
the wife. Once the amount is agreed upon, then[Jeffrey] shall
immediately have a proper petition and order prepared and
entered at his cost reflecting the then current amount. If
[Jeffrey] shall fail to do the above, then the wife may
compute the amount and petition the court and all costs,
expenses, and attorney's fees incurred by her shall be
taxed to the husband and he shall immediately pay the same.
If the then current amount is not agreed upon, then it shall
be submitted to this court and all costs, expenses, and
attorney's fees incurred shall be taxed to the party that
was most in error on the computations.
It is contemplated by the parties that [Jeffrey] will not
have the arrearage paid off at the time he begins his medical
residency. At the time [Jeffrey] begins, or should begin, his
medical residency, then the child support and medical/dental
expense arrearage shall be ascertained and support at time
shall be modified to the current amount that he should then
owe according to the Arkansas Child Support Chart. An
additional sum shall be added by agreement of the parties or
by a court of competent jurisdiction in Arkansas, to
alleviate the arrearage. It is contemplated by the parties
that there may be more arrearage subsequent to the execution
and entrance of the Decree of Divorce and such arrearage
shall be computed at the time [Jeffrey] begins, or should
begin, his medical residency and those amounts will be
considered in computing the total arrearage that [Jeffrey]
owes and shall be calculated in figuring the amount of monies
he shall have to pay monthly to cure any arrearage.
In order to keep track of the amount of medical/dental and
other healthcare related expenses, [Heather] shall provide
[Jeffrey] copies of all billing statements. If [Jeffrey]
objects to any such medical expense as being his liability in
whole or in part, then he shall, within ten (10) days of
receipt, contact [Heather] in writing of his objection to any
disputed medical expenses. If [Jeffrey] has objected to any
medial expense that is later held to be his expense, then he
shall pay any and all court costs, attorneys fees, and other
expenses related to this matter.
Each of the parties shall exchange tax returns annually. In
the event that [Jeffrey] shall receive any type of income tax
refund, then the same shall be paid to [Heather] and she
shall credit said sum ...