Father and mother shared one minor child, but had never married or cohabitated. In 2014, mother filed a motion for modification of child support which was granted. In 2016, Mother filed another modification of child support claiming essentially the same change in material circumstances as she did in her 2014 motion. The family court again granted her motion. Father appealed arguing 1) there was no substantial and continuing change , 2) the family Court failed to consider prior born children’s support and the cost of the child’s health insurance, and 3) the family court’s finding that it would be unfair to child for Father to support a lifestyle substantially below his own was an abuse of discretion.
The Court of Appeals agreed that the record did not contain evidence showing a substantial change since Mother’s first motion noting the Court improperly considered Father’s reduction in parenting time which only occurred because his parenting time was intentionally “thwarted” by Mother. Moreover, the family court abused its discretion in calculating child support by only considering the disparate income of the parties and failing to include other factors such as Father’s other child support obligations and responsibility for health insurance and medical expenses. Critically, the family court misinterpreted Faried “in concluding that is was required to ‘take into consideration the very high income of Father and look at the style of living which his income provides. It would be unfair to Child were Father to provide him with a lifestyle substantially below that of Father.’” Faried did not overrule Downing, which rejected the “share the wealth” model where child support is determined by mathematically extrapolating over and above the maximum guidelines without entering specific findings as to the needs of the children. Thus, the Court of Appeals vacates the family court’s order and remands the matter for further findings.
Digested by Elizabeth M. Howell