Welcome to the YoungWilliams Research & Case Law Library.  Use the filters below to select categories of interest to you.  Currently our Library consists of academic and government research articles and reports from around the country, federal opinions, and case law from states in which our full service child support projects are located: Colorado, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Wyoming.  Sign up to receive updates by clicking the blue  box at the left of the page.

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Research & Case Law

Using Principles of Procedural Justice to Engage Disconnected Parents

March 2020

Engaging parents with the child support program is hard. The federal Office of Child Support Enforcement funded the Procedural Justice-Informed Alternatives to Contempt (PJAC) grant to explore ways to integrate procedural justice principles into child support enforcement. This brief explores ways that the principles were used to improve parent engagement with the program. There are five main elements of procedural justice: respect, understanding, voice, neutrality, and helpfulness. To increase engagement, the grant recipients applied these principles to the various ways they communicate with parents.

Pumroy v. Sisco (Mississippi 2020)

March 2020

A child’s emancipation is grounds for modification of a child support order. The mother and father, who had three children, divorced. The father was ordered to pay support for the three children. The father was ordered to pay support for their three children. This order was subsequently modified, and the child support provision stated that the child support would continue until such time as the children were emancipated. Several years later, the Department of Human Services filed a petition to modify support citing the oldest child’s emancipation as the substantial change. The mother opposed the petition.

Edwards v. Edwards (Wyoming)

March 2020

A trial court has wide discretion to determine a parent’s status as voluntarily underemployed. Absent an abuse of discretion, the decision won’t be overturned on appeal. The parents filed for divorce. They had four children. During their marriage, they owned a lawn care business. After their separation, the father closed the business and took a lower paying data entry job. He testified to the facts around his decision to close the business including difficult hours which would prevent him from seeing the children. The court calculated support based on his current income. The mother appealed, arguing the father was voluntarily underemployed.

Wilder v. Wilder (Tennessee 2020)

March 2020

An order that doesn’t adjudicate all of the issues before the court is not final and not ready for appeal. The parents in this case filed competing petitions to modify child support for their three children. The father, the payor, requested a downward modification, arguing his income had decreased. The mother requested an upward modification and asked that support continue beyond the age of majority for the older two children, both of whom the mother alleged were disabled. The trial court entered an order finding the older two children disabled and continuing support beyond the age of their majority. The father appealed.

Wright v. Wright (Tennessee 2020)

March 2020

When imputing income to parents, the court can consider factors including education and the reason for any change in employment. The parents filed for divorce. They had one child. The father had a history of high paying jobs, but was working as a part-time consultant at the time of the trial. The court imputed an income of $144,000 per year to him. This amount was less than his highest paying job but more than his actual income. The mother, a licensed attorney, had never practiced in Tennessee, but testified she could probably find a job that paid $50,000. The court imputed her at $2,000 per month. The father appealed the imputation of income as well as other findings.

Cain-Swope v. Swope (Tennessee 2020)

February 2020

A parent can request a discretion from the child support obligation for extraordinary educational expenses. The parents divorced, and the mother was ordered to pay support. The parents engaged on ongoing litigation. Specific to this appeal, the mother filed to modify support, requesting a deviation from support since she paid for the child’s private school tuition. The trial court denied the deviation, finding that the parents made an agreement that the mother would pay tuition. The mother appealed.

Johnson v. Johnson (Wyoming 2020)

February 2020

Overtime income can’t be considered as part of gross income unless it was earned in the statutory timeframe and is reasonably expected to continue. The mother and father divorced. They had four children. During the 2018 trial, the mother argued the father was voluntarily underemployed. While the parents were married the father regularly worked overtime, but he stopped in 2015.  She argued his income should be based on his income for 2013 and 2104 when he has regularly working overtime. The trial court agreed and set support accordingly. The father appealed the child support award along with other provisions of the divorce decree. 

Best v. Oliver (Mississippi 2020)

February 2020

To modify a child support order, there must be a material change in circumstances that wasn’t foreseeable when the original order was established. While an increase in a child’s expenses is foreseeable, the amount of the increase is not. The mother and father divorced, and the father was ordered to pay support for their only child. Several years later, the mother filed to modify citing father’s increase in income, the child’s increase in expenses, and a change in her financial situation. The chancery court granted the modification, and the father appealed.

Morris v. Powell (North Carolina 2020)

February 2020

Child support does not end until a child is legally emancipated. A seventeen-year-old child moved out of his mother’s home, and the father stopped paying support. The mother filed a petition for contempt and for a judgment on the arrears. The father filed to terminate support as of the date the child moved out, arguing that the child constructively emancipated. The trial court granted the father’s motion to terminate support and found the father was not in contempt for willful nonpayment. The mother appealed.

Marriage of Weekes (Colorado 2020)

January 2020

Statutes operate prospectively unless the language indicates otherwise. A law is unconstitutionally retrospective if it infringes on a vested right. The father filed to modify his child support based on a physical change of custody that happened without a court order. Current Colorado law limits retroactive modification of child support to the five years prior to the filing of the motion with an exception if the outcome is shown to be unjust and/or inappropriate. If the exception is applied, the date can go back further than five years. The father filed to modify well after the child had emancipated. The court denied the motion to modify as untimely, and the father appealed.

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