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Rosas v. Lopez

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Second Division

July 31, 2018

ALBERTO REINALDO ROSAS, Appellant,
v.
MARIA XIMENA LOPEZ, Respondent.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis 1122-FC02201-03 Honorable Thomas J. Frawley

          OPINION

          Lisa P. Page, Presiding Judge

         Alberto Reinaldo Rosas ("Father") appeals the judgment of the trial court, granting in part and denying in part Maria Ximena Lopez's ("Mother") motion to modify child support. We affirm.

         BACKGROUND

         In June 2003, the parties were Pennsylvania residents but dissolved their marriage by consent in Colombia. The Colombian dissolution decree awarded Mother physical custody of their minor child ("Child") and child support for ten months per year. Father was awarded reasonable visitation and child support two months per year. The parents were awarded joint legal custody. Father subsequently relocated to St. Louis, Missouri.

         On June 30, 2011, with Mother's consent, Father first invoked the jurisdiction of Missouri courts when he registered the 2003 Colombian dissolution decree in the City of St. Louis Circuit Court. Father then filed a motion to modify in order to facilitate his work-related relocation to England with Child. On July 25, 2011, the court entered its consent modification judgment ("Consent Judgment") which awarded Father sole legal and sole physical custody of Child. Neither party was ordered to pay child support to the other.[1]

         On December 11, 2012, Father filed a second motion to modify Mother's visitation rights. In response, and in spite of her prior consent, Mother filed a motion to set aside the Consent Judgment alleging the court previously lacked jurisdiction pursuant to Section 452.740 RSMo (2016) of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act because both parties falsely asserted Child resided in Missouri for six months prior to Father filing his modification. The court agreed with Mother. On March 8, 2013, the court held "there was no statutory authority … to enter a Motion to Modify on the Foreign Judgment" and declared the July 25, 2011 Consent Judgment void. In April 2013 Mother took custody of Child and relocated to Colombia, where they currently reside.

         However, the parties continued to file a dizzying array of litigation in Missouri. On August 25, 2013 and July 7, 2014, Father filed motions to quash income withholding orders. On September 4, 2013, he filed a motion to determine amounts due and owing. Father relocated to Missouri on September 13, 2013. On October 20, 2014, Mother filed her motion to modify child support. Father filed a motion to dismiss Mother's modification "for lack of jurisdiction" in spite of all of his own pending litigation. Moreover, he subsequently filed motions to determine amounts due and owing and for contempt on July 28, 2015. [2]

         On January 19, 2016, the trial court heard all motions together. Mother's motion to modify was granted in part and denied in part as was Father's motion to determine amounts due and owing. Father's motion for contempt was denied. The court ordered each parent to pay half of the costs for Child to attend a vocational or technical school, college or university, or junior college. Additionally, the court ordered Father to pay Mother $1, 586.00 per month for child support, finding the Civil Procedure Form No. 14 calculation was unjust and inappropriate. The present appeal follows.

         DISCUSSION

         Father submits three points on appeal, contending the trial court erred in: (I) denying Father's motion that the court lacked jurisdiction under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act ("UIFSA")[3]; (II) including private school tuition in Mother's award; and (III) failing to specify whether the judgment modified Child's age of emancipation.

         Standard of Review

         Our review of a modification judgment is limited to whether it is supported by substantial evidence, is against the weight of the evidence, or erroneously declares or misapplies the law. Murphy v. Carron, 536 S.W.2d 30, 32 (Mo. banc 1976); Nichols v. Nichols, 14 S.W.3d 630, 634 (Mo. App. E.D. 2000). The evidence, and all ...


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