In the Matter of NicholsonAnnotate this Case
The issue before the Supreme Court was the appeal of a circuit court order which found Respondent John P. Nicholson (Father), to be $28,556, plus interest, in arrears on child support obligations to Petitioner, Kimberly J. Nicholson (Mother). In April 2011, the Mother filed a motion for contempt arguing, among other things, that the Father had unilaterally reduced the amount of support when their oldest child graduated from high school in May 2007 and that he has paid no support at all since April 16, 2009. The Father objected and argued that the final decree entitled him to reduce his child support payments as each child became emancipated because the decree states that child support "shall continue until the children reach the age of 18 or graduates [sic] from high school, whichever shall last occur." He argued that "[t]he parties understood this to mean that the child support would be reduced by $82.00 as each child graduated from high school or reached age 18 years, whichever was later." The Father also argued that the Mother had agreed to this reduction. Upon review, the Supreme Court reversed and remanded: "pursuant to the plain language of the SO, in calculating the support arrearage, the trial court was obligated to retrospectively recalculate child support as of the dates upon which each of the two older children became emancipated. That the parents failed to obtain a court order modifying the support obligation when each child’s status changed is of no consequence; RSA 458:35-c permits the trial court’s order to specify differently, and it did so."