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Reed v. Akende-Reed

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

January 25, 2018

LORENZO REED, SR.
v.
HELEN AKENDE-REED

          Session January 10, 2018

         A father filed a petition to modify his child support obligation based on a reduction in income. Following a trial, the court determined that there was a significant variance between the Tennessee Child Support Guidelines and the amount of support ordered, and the court reduced the father's child support obligation. Discerning no error, we affirm.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Chancery Court Affirmed

          Helen Akende-Reed, Fairview, Tennessee, appellant, pro se.

          Lorenzo Reed, Sr., Ashburn, Virginia, appellee, pro se. [1]

          W. Neal McBrayer, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Frank G. Clement Jr., P.J., M.S., and Richard H. Dinkins, J., joined.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION[2]

          W. NEAL McBRAYER, JUDGE

         Lorenzo Reed, Sr. and Helen Akende-Reed married in Abuja, Nigeria, in April 2009. They divorced in March 2013; the marriage produced two children.

         Mr. Reed's child support obligation varied during the course of this litigation. As of August 2016, a special master found Mr. Reed's gross monthly income to be $12, 062.87, resulting in a child support obligation of $2, 227 per month. But because Mr. Reed owed $9, 325.16 in back child support, the special master determined that "his total child support [would also include] $75.00 for arrearage payments for a total of [$]2, 303.00 per month." The Chancery Court for Montgomery County, Tennessee, confirmed the special master's report by order of September 8, 2016.

         On October 4, 2016, Mr. Reed filed a petition to reduce child support, alleging a material change in circumstances because of "a substantial reduction in his pay." According to the statement of the evidence, the following took place at trial on Mr. Reed's petition:

1. . . . Only the Parties provided testimony, [sic] and also submitted documentation as to income.
[Mr. Reed] testified that, after the Special Master's hearing, his job had changed and he had been relocated to a position that did not include housing and other allowances that he had previously received. He provided his current pay statements that included year to date earnings, showing that his income is $7536.00 per month and that such amount was in effect at the time he filed his Petition for Modification on October 4, 2016.

         On January 10, 2017, the trial court entered an order finding Mr. Reed's gross monthly income to be $7, 536 and Ms. Akende-Reed's gross monthly income to be $2, 745. After allowing certain expense deductions, the court reduced Mr. Reed's child support obligation from $2, 227 to $1, 580 per month, "a reduction exceeding 15%, " retroactive to the date of the filing of his petition.

          Ms. Akende-Reed filed an "Objection to Child Support Order, " which the court treated as a motion to alter or amend. Because the January 10 order did not set forth the arrearage or method of payment, the court entered another order finding that, after giving credit for all payments Mr. Reed had made since August 2016, the arrearage through February 2017 was $9, 326.16, to be paid at an additional $59.78 per month. The court, however, rejected Ms. ...


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