FROM THE WASHINGTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 72DR-14-1519]
HONORABLE CRISTI BEAUMONT, JUDGE
Matthews, Campbell, Roads, McClure & Thompson, P.A., by:
Sarah L. Waddoups and Ryan P. Blue, for appellant.
Law Partners, LLP, by: John Mikesch, for appellee.
W. GRUBER, Chief Judge
Christine Haggard (Christy) appeals from an order dismissing
her request to modify the parties' divorce decree
regarding certain expenses related to their minor children.
Her ex-husband, Brian Edward Haggard (Brian), cross-appeals
from the court's order interpreting and clarifying the
divorce decree regarding the timing of alimony payments. We
affirm on both the appeal and the cross-appeal.
filed a complaint for divorce against Brian on September 5,
2014. The circuit court ordered the couple to attend
mediation and appointed an attorney ad litem to represent
their children's interests. After the mediation, the
parties appeared before the court on January 22, 2015, and
recited into the record their mediated agreement regarding
custody, child support, visitation, alimony, and property
division. The agreement provided for joint custody, with the
parties essentially alternating weeks; required Brian to pay
child support to Christy in the amount of $1300 per month
plus 25 percent of any tax refunds, employment bonuses or
other income he received; and ordered Brian to pay Christy
"alimony in the amount of $1200 per month for 120 months
beginning on February 1, 2015, " plus 25 percent of any
employment bonuses or other income he received. The circuit
court entered a decree of divorce on March 10, 2015.
January 26, 2016, Christy filed a petition to modify the
divorce decree, requesting the court to address two issues:
first, Christy alleged that Brian had refused to tender
alimony payments to her on the first of each month and had
intentionally used the date of the alimony payment as a
"weapon of manipulation and control, " making the
payments "when he [felt] so inclined to pay." She
asked the court to order Brian to make the payments on the
first of each month. She also alleged that the divorce decree
was silent on the matter of the children's expenses other
than medical expenses. She specifically mentioned sports
activities, cell phones, haircuts, school uniforms, summer
camps, and birthday-party expenses. In an amended petition,
she alleged that the parties had agreed to divide these
expenses equally and that this agreement was reflected in the
oral recitation of their agreement before the court on
January 22, 2015. She claimed that the divorce decree's
providing for equal division of only the children's
medical expenses was a drafting error and did not accurately
reflect their agreement.
moved to dismiss Christy's petition, arguing that the
circuit court lacked authority to modify the divorce decree
absent consent of the parties because the decree constituted
a valid and binding contract. He also argued that the court
could not order payment of those expenses because they were
not enumerated in Administrative Order Number 10.
circuit court entered an order on April 13, 2016, denying
Brian's motion regarding alimony but granting his motion
on the issue of the children's expenses. The court found
that Christy had failed to state a claim upon which relief
could be granted because the divorce decree was the final
agreement of the parties and any previous agreement-that is,
the oral recitation at the hearing before entry of the
divorce decree-was not relevant given that the divorce decree
constituted the final agreement and was agreed to by both
hearing, the court entered an order on October 25, 2016,
finding that the decree's provision regarding alimony was
not ambiguous and that the language in the decree required
Brian to pay alimony once every 30-31 days beginning on
February 1, 2015, for 120 months. Alternatively, the court
found that if the language regarding the payment date for
alimony was ambiguous, the court was using its authority
under Rule 60(b) of the Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure to
correct a clerical mistake in a decree at any time.
Accordingly, the court ordered Brian to make the alimony
payments on the first day of each month.
appeals from the circuit court's dismissal of her
petition to modify the divorce decree to provide that the
parties divide equally the expenses of the children. Our
standard of review for the granting of a motion to dismiss is
whether the circuit court abused its discretion. Hall v.
Jones, 2015 Ark. 2, at 3, 453 S.W.3d 674, 676. Christy
contends that the parties negotiated an agreement regarding
these expenses, the agreement was read into the record at the
hearing on January 22, 2016, and the provision was
erroneously omitted from the divorce decree incorporating
relevant recitation at the hearing of the parties'
agreement-i.e., dealing with the children's
expenses-provided as follows:
Expenses for the minor children will be divided 50/50 between
the parties. Any expense under $100 will just-each parent
will keep an accounting during the month and they'll
reconcile the amounts at the end of the month if one party
owes the other party for any expenses. Any single expenses
over $100 shall be reconciled between the parties
immediately. Medical expenses not covered by insurance shall
be split 50/50 between the parties. The parties have agreed
that a mole on BH's arm, the cost shall be split 50/50.
The boys will remain at St. ...