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Dixon v. Dixon

Court of Appeals of Kentucky

November 3, 2017

KAREN DIXON APPELLANT
v.
CHARLES DIXON APPELLEE

         APPEAL FROM JESSAMINE CIRCUIT COURT HONORABLE JEFF MOSS, JUDGE ACTION NO. 10-CI-01384

          BRIEF FOR APPELLANT: M. Shea Chaney Lexington, Kentucky

          BRIEF FOR APPELLEE: John E. Reynolds Nicholasville, Kentucky

          BEFORE: COMBS, JOHNSON, AND D. LAMBERT, JUDGES.

          OPINION

          JOHNSON, JUDGE.

         Karen Dixon ("Karen") appeals the September 12, 2015 Order of the Jessamine Circuit Court, Family Division, denying her claim for past due maintenance and child support. Having reviewed the record and the applicable law, we AFFIRM the decision of the court.

         BACKGROUND

         On February 18, 2013, the parties were granted a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage, which adopted their Marital Settlement Agreement ("Agreement"). As part of the Agreement, Charles Dixon ("Charles") agreed to pay Karen $1189.60 per month for child support. In addition, he was to pay $800 per month spousal support until May 1, 2016. The Agreement provided that Karen was responsible for payment of the mortgage, but provided that the house was to be immediately listed for sale with Karen to receive any surplus in the house sale.

         Beginning in March 2013, rather than pay Karen directly, Charles began paying the mortgage on the house. While both parties acknowledge that the mortgage payments were more than the child support and maintenance payments combined, Karen initially objected to this payment arrangement. Regardless, Charles continued making mortgage payments in lieu of paying her child support and maintenance directly until July 2015, when the marital residence was sold.

         In July 2014, the oldest child reached majority and the court issued an Order Modifying Child Support reducing the total amount of child support due Karen. The Order also states, "There exists no past due support from Respondent to Petitioner." In October 2014, Karen submitted an application for child support services with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services seeking a garnishment of Charles' wages. On the attached Income Withholding for Support form, the form states there is no past-due child support arrears. On October 7, 2014, the county attorney filed an action in the Jessamine Circuit Court for the purpose of protecting its interest in receiving child support arrearages in the amount of $19, 458.49 as requested by Karen. The matter was subsequently transferred to the family court division and no further action was taken. In July 2015, the house was sold and Charles stopped making mortgage payments. Per court order, Karen vacated the marital residence and signed a quit claim deed transferring her interest in the property to Charles, who now resides in the home. Both children have now reached the age of emancipation and no further child support is due, and as of May 1, 2016, maintenance payments ended pursuant to the terms of the Agreement.

         The issue of child support arrearages was not addressed by either party until the August 23, 2016 hearing before the court and in the court's subsequent order of September 12, 2016. In the order, the court found that Charles was not entitled to any offset for amounts he paid for the obligation of the wife on the mortgage; that there was no maintenance or child support arrearage owed by Charles to Karen; and that Karen is barred by the doctrine of laches from asserting a claim for past due maintenance and child support.

         It is from that order that Karen now appeals. On November 10, 2016, we designated this matter an expedited appeal thus no prehearing statement was required.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         We review child support and maintenance decisions only for an abuse of discretion. Commonwealth, Cabinet for Health and Family Services v. Ivy, 353 S.W.3d 324, 329 (Ky. 2011). An abuse of discretion occurs where the court's decision is unreasonable, unfair, or unsupported by ...


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