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Bryan v. Bryan

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Southern District, Second Division

September 11, 2019

KRISTY RUNK BRYAN, Respondent,
v.
WILLIAM T. BRYAN, JR., Appellant.

          APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF GREENE COUNTY Honorable Jerry A. Harmison, Jr., Judge

          Before Scott, P.J., Bates, C.J., and Burrell, J.

          PER CURIAM.

         Kristy and Bill Bryan divorced in 2004. Their separation agreement, made part of the decree, established responsibilities for their children's health-insurance costs and required each parent to pay 50% of college costs through graduate or professional school, less "other aid that reduces cost."[1]

         In 2017, Kristy moved the court to determine Bill's arrearages.[2] After months of proceedings and a contested hearing, the court entered a judgment that Bill pay Kristy $44, 777 for Bill's share of daughter Sara's vet-school expenses; reimburse Kristy $2, 345 for daughter Lexi's educational expenses; and reimburse Kristy $17, 822 for the children's health-insurance costs.[3]

         Bill appeals, challenging these awards. We affirm.

         Standing (Point 1)

         Point 1 charges that Kristy had no standing to sue for education expenses after a child reached age 21 "in that she had no legal obligation to provide such support, and thus her payments for those expenses were voluntary." Yet the stated premise fails - Bill later concedes that he and Kristy were legally bound to provide educational support beyond age 21, having contracted to do so in their separation agreement, which the court also incorporated into its decree. This distinguishes Bill's citation to Meyer v. Meyer, 77 S.W.3d 40 (Mo. App. 2002), where the parents had no such legal obligation. Id. at 42. In any event, absent supporting authority, Bill does not persuade us that Kristy has no legal standing regarding a bilateral agreement to which she was a contracting party, a principal, and judicially bound as a litigant. We deny Point 1 and, without addressing them further, those subparts of Points 2 and 3 incorporating Point 1 by reference.[4]

         Expenses for Health Insurance & Lexi's Education (Points 3 & 4)

         We take these points out of order and begin with Point 4, which in lay terms asserts that the court awarded the wrong figure for health-insurance costs.

         As background, Exhibits 2, 2-A, 2-B, 2-C, and 2-D, totaling hundreds of pages, were admitted without objection in support of Kristy's original claims, including $17, 822 for health-insurance costs. Kristy also testified and answered the court's questions about those claims and exhibits. In later testimony, Kristy "corrected" her health-insurance claim down to $15, 614.

         The court took the case under advisement for eight months, during which the parties filed briefs and had a conference call with the court. The court then sent counsel an "opinion letter" outlining its intended awards, which included Kristy's first figure of $17, 822 for health-insurance costs, and asked the parties to contact the court if they believed any amount had been overlooked.

         Bill wrote back and took issue with three rulings, but not the $17, 822 for health insurance. After formal judgment, Bill moved to eliminate (not reduce) the $17, 822 health-insurance award for wholly-different reasons than Point 4 now asserts. Having thus missed two opportunities to put current Point 4 before the trial court, Bill has not preserved it for appeal. Rule 78.07(b).[5]

         Point 3 is similar and fails in part for similar reasons. Kristy initially sought $2, 345 reimbursement for Lexi's educational expenses; that evidentiary support was admitted without objection; Kristy later "corrected" her claim down to $1, 674; the court's opinion letter proposed to award Kristy's first number; Bill replied to that letter and later moved to eliminate (not reduce) this $2, 345 award without ever mentioning Kristy's ...


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