Dudgeon v. Dudgeon, 2009-CA-00522-ME and 2009-CA-001013-ME
Issue: Modification of Child Support
Published: Vacating and Remanding
Dad appealed FC’s orders denying to separate motions to modify child support based on Mom’s increased income.
When Mom and Dad divorced, they agreed to approximately equal parenting time with their children. At the time, Mom earned about $50,000 and Dad earned about $100,000 annually. Dad agreed to pay Mom $950 per month for child support. Subsequently, Mom’s income increased to about $100,000 and Dad’s $115,000 and Dad sought a corresponding modification of child support. FC denied Dad’s motion, finding that the change of circumstances was not material, substantial, and continuing because Dad did not meet the rebuttable presumption of same by establishing a 15% change in the child support owed per the Child Support Guidelines. Dad appealed this Order. Several months later, Dad filed another motion to modify child support as Mom’s income had again increased, to about $125,000. FC denied this motion as well, and Dad filed the second appeal.
CA concluded that the child support guidelines are inapplicable to Mom and Dad’s case for two independent reasons. One, their combined monthly gross income exceeded the uppermost level of the child support guidelines rendering application of the guidelines inappropriate, and two, the equal timesharing arrangement was of an extraordinary nature rendering application of the child support guidelines unjust. CA found that as the child support guidelines are inapplicable, the rebuttable presumption found in KRS 403.213(2) concerning modification of child support is, likewise, inapplicable. The proper standard for modification of child support in such a case is found in KRS 403.213(1) and is simply whether there exists a material change in circumstances that is substantial and continuing.