Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Third Division
CASEY D. RICHARDSON, Appellant,
JENNIFER R. RICHARDSON, Respondent.
from the Circuit Court of St. Francois County 14SF-DR00434
Honorable Shawn R. McCarver
M. GAERTNER, JR. PRESIDING JUDGE
D. Richardson (Father) appeals from the trial court's
judgment awarding child support to Jennifer R. Richardson
(Mother). On appeal, Father challenges the amount of the
child support award. We affirm.
and Father have two children together: G.D.R., born
4/10/2006, and A.R.R., born 1/18/2011. Mother and Father
married in 2010, and Father filed for dissolution in 2014.
After a trial, the trial court entered a judgment dissolving
relevant to the issue raised on appeal, the trial court
granted Mother and Father joint legal and physical custody of
the two children, with a 50/50 physical custody arrangement
of alternating weeks. In calculating its own Form 14, the
trial court found that Father's gross monthly income was
$3, 566, based on his 2015 annual income; and that
Mother's gross monthly income was $1, 378. Father paid
health insurance costs of $160 per month for the children,
and both parties paid day care costs of $180 per month on
behalf of A.R.R, Neither parent challenges these numbers on
appeal. Because Mother's gross monthly income was less
than $1, 700, the trial court found Father was not entitled
to a Line 11 visitation adjustment despite having equal
custody. Using these numbers, the trial court calculated a
presumed child support amount of $868 per month for two
children. The trial court, however, found this amount to be
unjust and inappropriate, and it reduced Father's child
support obligation to $850 per month. This appeal follows.
sole point on appeal, Father argues the trial court
misapplied the law in its calculation of child support by
refusing to apply a visitation adjustment in calculating its
Form 14, in that Section 452.340.11 allows for a 50% visitation
adjustment where the parents have equal custody, and Section
452.340.11 does not contain a minimum income threshold. We
our standard of review, we will affirm the trial court's
award of child support unless it is not supported by
substantial evidence, it is against the weight of the
evidence, or it erroneously declares or applies the law.
Thorp v. Thorp, 390 S.W.3d 871, 882 (Mo. App. E.D.
2013). In reaching our conclusions, however, we owe no
deference to the trial court's statutory constructions,
which we review de novo. Rozelle v. Rozelle, 320
S.W.3d 225, 228 (Mo. App. E.D.2010).
determining the appropriate amount of child support, the
trial court must follow a two-step procedure. Neal v.
Neal, 941 S.W.2d 501, 504 (Mo. banc 1997). First, the
trial court must apply Rule 88.01 and the Form 14 directions
to calculate the presumed child support amount. Section
452.340.8; Rule 88.01; Neal, 941 S.W.2d at 504;
Thorp, 390 S.W.3d at 882. The trial court may accept
a Form 14 calculated by one of the parties or may prepare its
own. Thorp. 390 S.W.3d at 882. Second, the trial
court must consider whether to rebut the presumed correct
child support amount as unjust and inappropriate after
considering the relevant factors. Id. If the court
rejects the presumed amount as unjust and inappropriate, it
then uses its discretion to determine the proper amount.
of Rule 88.01 and the Form 14 directions are
"mandatory." Neal, 941 S.W.2d at 504;
Plager v. Plager, 426 S.W.3d 689, 697 (Mo. App. E.D.
2014). Section 452.340.8 requires that the child support
amount "shall" be determined in accordance with
Missouri Supreme Court rules developed for that purpose.
Looking to those rules, as relevant to the issue raised here,
the directions for the Form 14, Line 11 provide that a parent
obligated to pay child support is generally entitled to an
adjustment based on the number of overnight periods of
custody exercised by that parent per year, with certain
explicitly delineated exceptions. Form l4, Line 11, DIRECTION
and CAVEAT. The directions sets forth an adjustment of 10%
for 92-109 overnight periods, but the directions allow that
the trial court may apply an adjustment of over 10% and up to
50% when the paying parent exercises visitation or custody
for more than 109 overnight periods per year. Form 14, Line
the Form 14, Line 11 directions also set out a caveat,
providing "an adjustment on line 11 shall not be
allowed unless the adjusted monthly gross income of the
parent entitled to receive support... exceeds the amounts set
forth in the table below." Form 14, Line 11, CAVEAT
(underlining added). The table sets the minimum income for
two children as $1, 700. Id. The words "shall
not" makes the caveat mandatory, not discretionary. See
State ex rel. Hunter v. Lippold, 142 S.W.3d 241, 243
(Mo. App. W.D. 2004) (courts construe words using their plain
and ordinary meaning, and word "shall" expresses
compulsion, obligation, or necessity). Moreover, in
interpreting statutory language we consider the purpose of
the entire act. Fowler v. Fowler. 504 S.W.3d 790,
797 (Mo. App. E.D.-2016). Here, the overall purpose of child
support is to provide for the child's welfare.
Gerlach v. Adair. 211 S.W.3d 663, 669 (Mo. App. W.D.
2007). It is self-evident that the caveat to the Form 14
directions is meant to ensure both parties can meet the basic
needs of the children.
Mother and Father here have 50/50 custody, which would
entitle Father to at least a 10% visitation adjustment under
the Form 14 directions, because Mother's income is below
the minimum threshold of $1, 700 per year, the caveat to the
Form 14 directions explicitly disallows the adjustment. See
Form 14, Line 11, DIRECTIONS and CAVEAT; see also In re
Marriage of Adams.414 S.W.3d 29, 34-35 (Mo. App. S.D.
2013) (noting that although father had 92 periods of
overnight visitation per year, which would entitle him to 10%
visitation adjustment under Form 14, Line 11, DIRECTIONS, the
visitation adjustment "does not apply" when
mother's income was under minimum income threshold set
out in caveat). The plain language of Section 452.340.8 and
the Form 14 directions prohibited the trial court here from
crediting Father with a visitation adjustment to the child