Assigned on Briefs November 12, 2014
Appeal from the Juvenile Court for Montgomery County No. 113318 Raymond Grimes, Judge
Karl E. Childs, Clarksville, Tennessee, appellant, Pro Se.
No brief filed on behalf of appellee, Kathyrne Kennedy.
W. Neal McBrayer, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Frank G. Clement, Jr., P.J., M.S., and Andy D. Bennett, J., joined.
W. NEAL McBRAYER, JUDGE
I. Background and Procedural History
This case involves a petition for modification of child support. Karl Childs ("Father") was originally ordered to pay $547.00 per month to Kathyrne Kennedy ("Mother") for the support of the couple's minor child, Khamil C., on August 7, 2008. On September 6, 2011, Mother filed a petition with the Montgomery County Juvenile Court, alleging that there had been a "significant variance between the Tennessee Child Support Guidelines and the amount of child support currently ordered, such that a modification in child support is justified." The case was heard before a magistrate on February 23, 2012. The magistrate held Father accountable for 54% of Khamil's medical expenses and found the necessary 15% variance in obligation to support a modification of child support. Tenn. Comp. R. & Regs. 1240-2-4-.05 (2015). The magistrate ordered Father to pay $313 per month in child support and an additional $20 per month toward arrearages.
Father was also found in willful contempt for failure to pay child support and sentenced to ten days in the Montgomery County Jail. The magistrate "stay[ed] all days based upon strict compliance" and set a review date for November 8, 2012. Father did not request a rehearing before the juvenile court on either the child support modification or contempt issue within the statutorily prescribed five-day period, Tennessee Code Annotated § 36-5-405(h) (2014), and so the court adopted the magistrate's finding as its order.
At the November 8, 2012 hearing to review Father's compliance with child support payments, the magistrate found that Father owed $7, 029.63 in arrears and ordered him to "continue to pay toward arrears as previously ordered." At a subsequent review hearing held on October 31, 2013, the magistrate ordered Father to serve the previously imposed ten-day sentence.
Father filed a request for rehearing in front of the juvenile court judge on the same day. He filed an affidavit of indigency and was appointed an attorney to represent him in the criminal contempt proceeding before the juvenile court. Father also filed a petition for modification of child support on December 12, 2013, requesting a downward adjustment of his current child support obligation of $313.00 per month.
The juvenile court conducted a hearing on Father's request for child support modification and the magistrate's findings of criminal contempt on January 6, 2014. Relative to the child support issue, the court found that Father had another child residing with him. Although Father was an unemployed student at the time of the hearing, the court imputed income to him at the "minimum wage standard." Mother testified that she earned $8.00 per hour. Despite having 80 days of overnight visitation per year, the court expressed doubts that Father had actually exercised that visitation.
Based on these findings and the child support worksheet, the court declined to modify the previous child support order. The court concluded that there was not a 15% variance between the Tennessee Child Support Guidelines and Father's child support obligation. Significantly, the child support worksheet attached to the court's order calculated Mother's monthly gross income at $1, 256.66 per month and set Father's monthly gross income at $1, 386.00 per month. The court also confirmed the magistrate's ruling regarding willful contempt and ...