Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Short v. Short

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eleventh District, Portage

December 23, 2019

SEAN A. SHORT, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
MICHELLE E. SHORT, Defendant-Appellant.

          Civil Appeal from the Portage County Court of Common Pleas, Domestic Relations Division, Case No. 2011 DR 00102.

          William D. Lentz, Lentz, Noble & Heavner, LLC, (For Plaintiff-Appellee).

          Joseph G. Stafford and Nicole A. Cruz, Stafford Law Co., LPA, (For Defendant-Appellant).

          OPINION

          MARY JANE TRAPP, J.

         {¶1} Appellant, Michelle E. Short, nka Michelle Richardson ("Ms. Richardson"), appeals the judgment entry of the Portage County Court of Common Pleas, Domestic Relations Division, denying her motion to modify child support, which the court issued following a remand order from this court in Short v. Short, 11th Dist. Portage No. 2017-P-0087, 2018-Ohio-3243 ("Short I ").

         {¶2} Ms. Richardson argues that the trial court violated her due process rights by not holding an additional evidentiary hearing on child support and by indicating it would adopt her proposed judgment entry but instead adopting the proposed judgment entry of appellee, Sean A. Short ("Mr. Short"), her former husband and the father of her two minor children.

         {¶3} Ms. Richardson also argues that the trial court erred in deviating Mr. Short's child support obligation to zero because (1) the trial court did not make an express finding that a change of circumstance had occurred to justify modifying Mr. Short's child support obligation; and (2) the trial court's justifications for deviating Mr. Short's child support obligation are not supported by the evidence.

         {¶4} After a careful review of the record and pertinent law, we find as follows:

         {¶5} (1) The trial court did not violate Ms. Richardson's due process rights. The mere fact that a trial court's decision is remanded does not entitle the parties to an additional evidentiary hearing, and our order of remand did not require it. Ms. Richardson was given a full opportunity to present evidence on her motion to modify child support during the first evidentiary hearing and to voice her objections to Mr. Short's proposed judgment entry.

         {¶6} (2) The trial court did not abuse its discretion in failing to make an express finding that a change of circumstance had occurred because the applicable statutes do not require this express finding. When the amount as recalculated on the child support worksheet is more than ten per cent greater than the amount of child support required to be paid pursuant to the existing child support order, the deviation from the recalculated amount shall be considered by the court as a change of circumstance substantial enough to require a modification of the child support amount. The trial court's judgment entry demonstrates it considered the deviation from the recalculated amount to be a change of circumstance, although it did not describe it using that terminology.

         {¶7} (3) The trial court's findings of fact supporting its determination that the amount of child support would be unjust or inappropriate and not in the best interest of the children are supported by the record.

         {¶8} Thus, we affirm the judgment of the Portage County Court of Common Pleas, Domestic Relation Division.

         Substantive and Procedural History

         {¶9} Ms. Richardson and Mr. Short were married in July 2000 and have two minor children together. In February 2011, Mr. Short filed a complaint for divorce in the Portage County Court of Common Pleas, Domestic Relations Division, which was granted in November of that year pursuant to a judgment entry decree of divorce. The child support worksheet provided that Mr. Short should pay $597.75 per month, which was deviated to zero based on the division of time the children spend with each parent and the division of the children's expenses.

         {¶10} The parties entered into a shared parenting plan that designated Ms. Richardson as the residential parent for school purposes and set forth the details of the parties' parenting time schedule. The parenting time schedule was amended in October 2014 pursuant to judgment entry.

         {¶11} In December 2015, Ms. Richardson filed a motion to modify allocation of parental responsibilities and a motion to modify child support and to establish a child support order. She alleged a change of circumstance in that Mr. Short failed to abide by the parenting time schedule, failed to communicate, and did not pay his portion of all expenses associated with the children.

         {¶12} In January 2016, Mr. Short filed a motion to modify allocation of parental rights and responsibilities where he requested additional parenting time.

         Evidentiary Hearing

         {¶13} Following the parties' exchange of discovery, the appointment of a guardian ad litem, and several continuances, the trial court held an evidentiary hearing on the pending motions on October 17, 2017.

         {¶14} With respect to child support, Ms. Richardson testified that she and Mr. Short had agreed to share expenses for the children but that he did not always reimburse her or delayed in reimbursing her. She stated that she would prefer to receive child support rather than splitting the children's expenses to avoid continuous fights and disagreements with Mr. Short.

         {¶15} On cross examination, Ms. Richardson acknowledged that her reported income was about $25, 000 greater than Mr. Short's but alleged he was "not paying what he's supposed to be paying for the dividing equally" of the children's expenses.

         {¶16} Mr. Short denied Ms. Richardson's allegations that he had not properly reimbursed her for the children's expenses and that there had been arguments between them regarding the issue.

         {¶17} Mr. Short also testified that he is remarried and has two stepchildren. His current spouse earns approximately $38, 000 per year, and her children receive approximately $3, 000 per month in social security.

         {¶18} On October 23, 2017, the trial court issued a judgment entry, in which it made several rulings relating to visitation and communication issues. With respect to child support issues, the trial court found that although Mr. Short's household income was higher than Ms. Richardson, he personally earned less. Therefore, the trial court ordered the parties to continue to equally share expenses for the children and set up procedures for expense reimbursement. Finally, the court ruled that "[a]ny motion still pending and not specifically addressed in this Judgment Entry is dismissed."

         Short I

         {¶19} Ms. Richardson appealed the trial court's judgment entry, which gave rise to this court's decision in Short I.

         {¶20} In Short I, we noted that the trial court's sole statements in relation to child support were that Ms. Richardson made more money than Mr. Short and that the parties should continue to split the children's expenses, pursuant to prior court order. Id. at ¶22. We determined that the trial court did not comply with the required statutory provisions by failing to: (1) attach a child support worksheet, (2) adopt the worksheet prepared by Ms. Richardson, (3) make any findings that it had considered the support worksheet, (4) determine whether there had been a change in circumstance warranting a modification, or (5) find grounds for deviating from the support worksheet submitted by Ms. Richardson. Id. Thus, we remanded the matter to the trial court "to issue a child support decision in which, if it makes a finding of deviation, includes the necessary statutory findings and which includes a child support worksheet." Id. at ¶29.

         {¶21} Following remand, the trial court held a hearing on December 21, 2018. No transcript of this hearing has been provided on appeal. Ms. Richardson claims the trial court instructed her to submit a proposed judgment entry adopting the child support worksheet she submitted during the evidentiary hearing in October 2017. Mr. Short claims the trial court instructed each party to submit a proposed judgment that complied with this court's remand order in Short I.

         {¶22} In any event, both parties submitted proposed judgment entries in January 2019. Ms. Richardson filed a brief in opposition to Mr. Short's proposed judgment entry. Mr. Short also filed a brief in opposition, and both parties filed reply briefs.

         Appealed Judgment Entry After Remand

         {¶23} On March 12, 2019, the trial court adopted Mr. Short's proposed judgment entry as its own. The trial court made the following findings of fact: (1) Ms. Richardson's income was $66, 267 while Mr. Short's income was $43, 500; (2) Mr. Short's new wife has two minor children that receive $3, 000 per month in social security benefits because their father is deceased, which constitutes a substitute for child support; (3) pursuant to the companionship schedule, the children spend half of ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.