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Jaco v. Jaco

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Second Division

April 18, 2017

JERIANE M. JACO, Respondent,
v.
BRIAN L. JACO, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cole County, Missouri The Honorable Daniel R. Green, Judge.

          Before Cynthia L. Martin, Presiding Judge, Lisa White Hardwick, Judge and Alok Ahuja, Judge.

          Cynthia L. Martin, Judge.

         Brian Jaco ("Father") appeals from a judgment denying his motion to modify the child support provisions of a dissolution decree. We affirm.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         The marriage between Father and Jeriane Jaco ("Mother") was dissolved by a dissolution decree entered in December 2010 ("Dissolution Decree"). The Dissolution Decree awarded Father and Mother joint physical and legal custody of their minor child. The Dissolution Decree approved and incorporated the terms of a separation agreement. The incorporated separation agreement reflected Father and Mother's agreement that the Form 14 presumed child support amount was unjust and inappropriate, giving due consideration to all relevant factors, and that neither party should be obligated to pay child support to the other. The incorporated separation agreement also reflected Father and Mother's agreement to equally divide uncovered medical, educational, extraordinary, and childcare expenses. The Dissolution Decree thus awarded no child support to either party, and ordered Mother and Father to bear equal responsibility for the child's uncovered expenses. Mother's gross monthly income at the time of the Dissolution Decree was $3, 476.00, while Father's was $2, 305.00.[1]

         Father filed a motion to modify the Dissolution Decree in December 2015 ("Motion"). Father's Motion sought to modify both parenting time and the child support provisions of the Dissolution Decree. Father's Motion alleged that modification of the child support provisions was necessary because of a substantial and continuing change of circumstances that rendered the original support provisions unreasonable. Specifically, Father's Motion alleged that the "relative income of the parties ha[s] substantially changed since [the Dissolution Decree] and that the cost of raising [the child] has substantially increased since [the Dissolution Decree]." After a bench trial, the trial court issued its judgment and decree of modification ("Judgment").

         The Judgment found "a continuing change of circumstances sufficient to modify . . . the custody schedule" previously ordered in the Dissolution Decree. The Judgment ordered that the parties would continue to have joint legal and physical custody of the child, but modified the parenting plan's custody schedule.[2] Neither Father nor Mother have appealed the Judgment's modification of the custody schedule.

         With respect to Father's request to modify the child support provisions in the Dissolution Decree, the Judgment found that "both parties are capable of contributing to the support of the minor child." At the time of the hearing on Father's Motion, Mother's gross monthly income was $5, 680.00, and Father's gross monthly income was $2, 417.00. In addition, Father had remarried, and his new spouse ("Stepmother") had a gross monthly income of $7, 083.34. Mother was engaged and living with her fiancé, whose gross monthly income was $3, 400.00. Father's Income and Expense Statement assumed that Stepmother contributed to pay 50% of household expenses. Mother's Income and Expense Statement assumed her fiancé contributed to pay 40% of her household expenses.

         The trial court calculated a presumed child support amount pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 88.01, Form 14, and section 452.340. The presumed child support amount would have required Mother to pay Father $401.00 per month. However, the trial court found the presumed child support amount to have been rebutted as unjust and inappropriate. The trial court reasoned that in light of Stepmother's income, Father "is not in need of child support." The trial court also found that, in light of Stepmother's income, Father is capable of contributing equally to uncovered medical expenses, extracurricular expenses, and extraordinary expenses. The trial court denied Father's request to modify the Dissolution Decree's child support provisions.[3]

         Father filed a motion for new trial, for reconsideration, or to amend the Judgment, which the trial court denied. This timely appeal follows.

         Standard of Review

         Because this is a court tried case, "the judgment of the trial court will be affirmed unless it is not supported by substantial evidence, it is against the weight of the evidence, or it erroneously declares or applies the law." Blue Ridge Bank & Trust Co. v. Trosen (Trosen II), 309 S.W.3d 812, 815 (Mo. App. W.D. 2010) (quoting McNabb v. Barrett, 257 S.W.3d 166, 169 (Mo. App. W.D. 2008)). "We view the evidence, and permissible inferences therefrom, in the light most favorable to the trial court's judgment, and we disregard all contrary evidence and inferences." Id. (quoting Brown v. Mickelson, 220 S.W.3d 442, 447 (Mo. App. W.D. 2007)). "We defer to the trial court's factual findings, giving due regard to the trial court's opportunity to judge the credibility of the witnesses." Id. (quoting Brown, 220 S.W.3d at 447)).

         Because we are "primarily concerned with the correctness of the trial court's result, " we will affirm the trial court's judgment "if cognizable under any theory, regardless of whether the reasons advanced by the trial court are wrong or not sufficient." Id. (quoting Blue Ridge Bank & Trust Co. v. ...


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