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Nichols v. Nichols

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Tenth District

September 12, 2013

Bonnie S. Nichols, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Kevin E. Nichols, Defendant-Appellant.

APPEAL from the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, Division of Domestic Relations, C.P.C. No. 10DR-07-3156.

Bergman & Yiangou, and Andrew J. Niese, for appellee.

Sean O. Boyle, for appellant.

DECISION

DORRIAN, J.

(¶ 1} Defendant-appellant, Kevin E. Nichols ("father"), appeals from a December 5, 2012 order approving a shared-parenting decree entered by the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, Division of Domestic Relations, that included a provision requiring him to pay child support retroactive to June 15, 2011. The court entered the order in response to a Civ.R. 60(A) motion filed by plaintiff-appellee, Bonnie S. Nichols ("mother"), seeking correction of a prior entry approving a shared-parenting plan that ordered father to pay child support retroactive to June 15, 2012. For the following reasons, we reverse.

Facts and Procedural History

(¶ 2} The parties were married on December 23, 2000, and two children were born as issue of the marriage. On September 15, 2010, the court granted a dissolution of the parties' marriage and approved an agreed shared-parenting plan of their two minor children. In the plan, the parties agreed that "[n]o child support is to be ordered, " but that "[b]oth parties agree[d] to share financial responsibility of [the] minor children equally." (July 23, 2010 Agreed Shared-Parenting Plan, 2.) The parties further agreed that "both [would] be residential parents and legal custodians of the minor child[ren] during the time in which the children reside[] with them." (Agreed Shared-Parenting Plan, 2). The parties identified mother as residential parent for school purposes.

(¶ 3} On June 15, 2011, mother filed a motion to "modify" child support (although child support had not previously been ordered), asserting that there had been a substantial change of circumstances since the termination of the marriage. Mother claimed that father had initially provided approximately $650 monthly for the care of the minor children but that he no longer was providing any monetary support for the children. She further claimed that father had represented to her that his income from a new job was substantially higher than his income at the time of the original shared-parenting plan.

(¶ 4} On November 7, 2011, father moved the court to designate him the residential parent of the children and to order mother to pay child support. Father claimed that, beginning in June 2011, mother had changed his parenting time from one in which the parent's "exchange[d] the children on a 50/50 basis" (Nov. 7, 2011 Motion, 2) to parenting time consistent with the guidelines contained in Loc.R. 27 of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, Division of Domestic Relations. After granting several continuances, the court ultimately scheduled the matter for a hearing to be held on June 15, 2012.

(¶ 5} On June 29, 2012, the parties filed a second amended shared-parenting plan[1] signed by both parties. The June 29, 2012 plan did not reflect a change concerning legal custody of the children-both parents continued in their status as residential parents and legal custodians. But the new shared-parenting plan expressly provided that father would pay monthly child support in the total amount of $1, 020 and that "[s]aid child support shall be retroactive from the date of filing, which is June 15, 2012." (Emphasis added.) (June 29, 2012, Second Amended Plan for Shared Parenting, 3.) The plan did not specify whether "date of filing" referred to the date of filing of mother's original motion for child support (filed on June 15, 2011), the first amended plan (filed on June 19, 2012), the second-amended plan (filed on June 29, 2012), an entry of the court, or some other document. Significantly, none of those documents were filed on June 15, 2012, the date stated in the second amended shared-parenting plan.

(¶ 6} Also on June 29, 2012, the trial court entered findings supporting a downward deviation from the amount of father's child support obligation as calculated using the R.C. 3119.022 child support worksheet, as follows:

The child support guideline amount of $1, 386.43 plus processing charge of $27.73 for a total of $1, 414.26 per month for the minor children is unjust inappropriate and not in the best interest of the minor children.
[Pursuant to] Ohio Revised Code Section 3113.23 the court may consider the relevant factors when deviating from child support guidelines: The parties have agreed to this Shared Parenting Plan in which the parties will spend nearly equal time with the minor children.
Therefore Father shall pay child support of $1, 000.00 plus $20.00 processing charge for a total of $1, 020.00 per month for the minor children.
* * *
Said child support shall be retroactive from the date of filing which is June 15, 2012.
During any time on or after the effective date of this order that private health insurance is in effect [emphasis sic], the following orders shall apply:
1. Effective as of date of child support order, Father shall pay a deviated amount of child support of $1, 000.00, plus processing charge of $20.00, for a total of $1, ...

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