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Brose v. Copeland

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Third District

August 5, 2013

MICHELLE BROSE, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
TRAVIS COPELAND, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.

Appeal from Seneca County Common Pleas Court Juvenile Division Trial Court No. 21170250.

John C. Filkins for Appellant.

Kent D. Nord for Appellee.

OPINION

ROGERS, J.

{¶1} Plaintiff-Appellant, Michelle Brose, appeals the judgment of the Court of Common Pleas of Seneca County, Juvenile Division, denying her request for a modified child support order. On appeal, Brose argues that the trial court should have modified the child support order because there was allegedly a change in circumstances due to an increase in the income of Defendant-Appellee, Travis Copeland. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

{¶2} Brose and Copeland were never married. They have a child, G.B., who was born in April 2011. In July 2011, the Seneca County Child Support Enforcement Agency issued an administrative order for child support. The order included an administrative calculation worksheet that showed Brose with an adjusted gross income of $41, 649.02 and Copeland with an adjusted gross income of $19, 285.68 for 2011. The worksheet did not include any documents, such as pay stubs, to indicate how the CSEA calculated the parties' incomes. The order obligated Copeland to pay approximately $345.00 per month in child support and approximately $80.00 per month for cash medical support.

{¶3} In early August 2011, Copeland, a reservist in the National Guard, informed Brose that he was being deployed to Afghanistan. Brose responded by filing a motion for modification of the child support order on August 25, 2011. Subsequently, Copeland filed motions regarding parental rights, Brose's purported violation of his parenting time, and the possibility of a name change for G.B.

{¶4} On December 29, 2011, a magistrate conducted a hearing on temporary orders regarding Copeland's parenting time. The parties did not offer evidence regarding Brose's motion for a child support modification at that time. Rather, to accommodate Copeland's overseas deployment, the magistrate continued the hearing to October 1, 2012. At the hearing, the following relevant evidence was adduced.

{¶5} Copeland testified at length regarding his compensation. For most of 2011, he received a weekly unemployment benefit of $387.00. However, after assuming active duty in September 2011, Copeland's compensation increased dramatically. He also received additional compensation for serving in a hostile region. During his service overseas, Copeland's compensation peaked at approximately $2, 550.00 for every two weeks. He testified that his active deployment ended in August 2012 and that he did not expect to be called again for active duty in the future. After returning from active duty, Copeland was unemployed and received a weekly unemployment benefit of $485.00.

{¶6} Brose testified that she worked 36 hours a week as a nurse and that she was paid approximately $24.00 per hour. Brose also indicated that she pays $183.00 per pay period to obtain health insurance for her, G.B., and her other child and that she pays approximately $120.00 per week to her mother and a babysitter for child care. Brose did not offer any documentary evidence, such as pay stubs or receipts, to corroborate her testimony regarding her income, health insurance costs, and child care expenses.

{¶7} On October 5, 2012, the magistrate issued a decision denying Brose's motion for a modified child support order. The magistrate found that Brose failed to properly verify her testimony regarding her day care expenses, insurance costs, and income, which precluded the magistrate from properly calculating a revised support amount. The magistrate also found that Copeland's increased income for his active duty service was nonrecurring income and thus excluded from his gross income. Accordingly, the magistrate concluded that there was no change in circumstances justifying a modified support order.

{¶8} On October 18, 2012, Brose filed her objections to the magistrate's decision. She filed supplemental objections on January 23, 2013. On March 4, 2013, the trial court overruled Brose's objections. It similarly found that there was no basis for a modified order since Brose failed both to provide documentation of her income and expenses and to prove that there was a change in circumstances.[1]

{¶9} Brose filed this timely appeal, presenting the following assignment of error ...


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