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Breuer v. Breuer

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Fourth Division

September 30, 2014

DOROTHY J. BREUER, Respondent,
v.
THOMAS M. BREUER, Appellant

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Franklin County. Honorable David L. Hoven.

Taylor Goodale, Union, MO, for appellant.

Jonathan L. Downard, Union, MO, for respondent.

Patricia L. Cohen, Presiding Judge. Roy L. Richter, J., and Robert M. Clayton III, J., concur.

OPINION

Page 410

Patricia L. Cohen, Presiding Judge

Introduction

Thomas Breuer (Father) appeals the judgment and decree of modification of dissolution of marriage entered by the Circuit Court of Franklin County. Father claims that the trial court erred in: (1) extending his child support obligation; (2) failing to make sufficient findings to order his support obligation to continue past the presumed date of emancipation; (3) modifying the judgment without finding a significant and continuing change in circumstances; and (4) ordering him to pay delinquent child support since his last support payment. We affirm in part and reverse and remand in part.

Factual and Procedural Background

Dorothy Breuer (Mother) and Father married in 1989 and had twin daughters, J.B. and M.B., on July 30, 1990. The parties divorced in 1995. In its judgment and decree of dissolution of marriage, the trial court incorporated Mother and Father's Property Settlement Agreement (Agreement). The Agreement provided that " child support shall be paid by [Father] to [Mother] in the sum of Seventy Dollars ($70.00) per week per child for the support of [J.B. and M.B.] until further order of the Court." In 1997, the trial court modified its judgment in certain respects but continued Father's support obligation in the same amount. In 2008, Mother filed a petition for appointment of guardian and conservator to obtain custody of J.B. due to her " physical/multi-impairment with cognitive impairment -- developmental delay." The probate court entered judgment authorizing appointment of a guardian and conservator, finding that

Page 411

J.B. " is an incapacitated and disabled person[.]"

On July 30, 2011, J.B. turned twenty-one years of age, and Father stopped his child support payments. On January 9, 2012, Mother filed a motion to modify the judgment of dissolution seeking, among other things, an order that Father " continue to maintain child support" for J.B. and " increase child support retroactive to the date of this Motion[.]" Father was served on January 26, 2012. Father filed an amended answer to Mother's motion, in which he pleaded that J.B. has " become emancipated pursuant to [section] 452.340.3, and no child support should be ordered payable by either party."

On April 5, 2013, the trial court held a hearing on Mother's motion to modify. At the hearing, the trial court took judicial notice of the contents of the 2008 probate file regarding appointment of a guardian and conservator. The file contained, among other things, interrogatories answered by Dr. Martin Rudloff, J.B.'s pediatrician, and the opinions and recommendations of Benjamin Hotz, J.B.'s appointed representative in the matter. Dr. Rudloff's answers provided the following information: J.B. " has mild retardation and is unable to perform acts that require executive function at the level to be independent, keep [herself] safe, provide for clothing and shelter on an independent level." J.B. is unable to manage her finances, and although she understands the concept of and can count money, J.B. is unable to perform " risk/benefit decisions," " budget," or " make value judgments." ...


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