Disabled father received monthly social security benefits for each of the parties’ minor children. The trial court ordered Father to share fifty percent of the children’s benefits with Mother. Subsequent to the Court’s order, Mother began receiving monthly social security benefits in an amount higher than Father as a result of injuries she sustained in a car accident. When Mother’s benefits commenced, Father’s ceased as Mother’s benefits were higher. Father argued the child support order should be amended ordering Mother to pay half of the monthly benefits she received on behalf of the children to Father. The parties shared joint custody of the children and exercised a 50/50 parenting schedule.
Trial court awarded father one-half of the monthly social security benefits Mother received on behalf of the children as child support payments. Mother appealed arguing that the court erred when it considered the benefits as child support.
The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s order stating that trial courts have wide discretion when deciding whether to deviate from the child support guidelines, including instances in which the parties exercise shared custody arrangements. The Court of Appeals held that the trial court found there existed a material change in circumstances in this case that was substantial and continuing such that it warranted a modification of child support and that the trial court’s deviation from the child support guidelines was appropriate.
Digested by: Emily T. Cecconi