Carr v. Carr

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Carr v. Carr
1992 OK 106
834 P.2d 970
63 OBJ 2139
Case Number: 73685
Decided: 07/14/1992
Supreme Court of Oklahoma

SHEILA MAE CARR, APPELLEE,
v.
CURTIS LEE CARR, APPELLANT.

Appeal from the District Court, Gail Harris, J.

Certiorari to the Court of Appeals, Division 1; Gail Harris, Trial Judge.

¶0 Following their divorce, the appellee, Sheila Mae Carr (mother), was awarded custody of the couple's three minor children. The appellant, Curtis Lee Carr (father), was ordered to pay child support during the children's minority. The mother sought a modification of the divorce decree. She requested that child support payments be continued for the two youngest children until they graduated from high school or reached the age of nineteen, whichever occurred first. The trial court awarded the requested support. The Court of Appeals reversed holding that the mother failed to prove a change of circumstances sufficient to warrant a modification of child support. We find that, pursuant to 43 U.S. 1991 § 112(D), if the custodial parent is providing a dependent child, over the age of majority who is attending high school, with the necessities of life, the continuation of child support until the age of nineteen is warranted. CERTIORARI PREVIOUSLY GRANTED; COURT OF APPEALS OPINION VACATED; TRIAL COURT AFFIRMED; CAUSE REMANDED WITH INSTRUCTIONS.

Vicki A. Cox, Managing Atty, Tulsa Child Support Office, Dept. of Human Services, Tulsa, for appellee.

Debra, J. Gottschalk, Tulsa, for appellant.

KAUGER, Justice.

[834 P.2d 971]

¶1 The first impression issue presented is whether proof of a material change in condition must be shown before child support, originally ordered through a child's eighteenth birthday, can be continued after the child reaches eighteen while attending high school. We find that, pursuant to 43 O.S. 1991 § 112 (D),

 

FACTS

¶2 The appellee, Sheila Mae Carr (mother), and the appellant, Curtis Lee Carr (father), were married in 1961. The marriage produced three children: G.L. born August 31, 1965; B.L. and K.L., twins, born November 9, 1970. The couple was divorced on November 26, 1980. The mother was granted custody of the children. The father was [834 P.2d 972] ordered to pay $125.00 monthly per child as support during the children's minority.

¶3 On January 23, 1989, the mother filed a motion to modify the divorce decree. Pursuant to 43 O.S. 1991 § 112 (D),

¶4 The trial court modified the divorce decree on June 23, 1989. It found that the two youngest children were entitled to support until their nineteenth birthdays payable at the rate previously ordered. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that any modification of a divorce decree requires a showing of a material change in conditions. The Court of Appeals found no evidence of any change. We granted certiorari on May 20, 1992, to address the first impression question of whether proof of a material change in conditions must be shown before child support, originally ordered through a child's eighteenth birthday, can be continued after a child who is attending high school reaches eighteen.

¶5 PURSUANT TO 43 O.S. 1991 § 112 (D), IF THE CUSTODIAL PARENT IS PROVIDING A DEPENDENT CHILD, OVER THE AGE OF MAJORITY WHO IS ATTENDING HIGH SCHOOL, WITH THE NECESSITIES OF LIFE, THE CONTINUATION OF CHILD SUPPORT UNTIL THE AGE OF NINETEEN IS WARRANTED.

¶6 The mother asserts that her two minor sons are entitled to child support while attending high school. The father argues that no material change in conditions warranting modification of the child support award was shown. We disagree.

¶7 In 1979, the Legislature amended 12 O.S. 1971 § 1277

¶8 Here, the Court of Appeals denied the continuation of child support because it found no showing of a change in conditions. In Warren, we established the showing necessary for a change of conditions in a modification proceeding. These prerequisites - a custodial parent providing daily support to a child between the ages of eighteen and nineteen who is enrolled in high school - are the only conditions required to order child support payments continued until the age of nineteen.

 

¶9 The father does not contest that the two youngest children are between the ages of eighteen and nineteen, that they are under the daily care of the mother, or that they are attending high school. No other conditions must be met to provide the legal basis for a claim of continued child support payments.

 

¶10 Once a trial court finds that the Warren criteria have been met, the only question left for the court to determine is the amount of support due. At the time of the initial divorce decree the Child Support Guidelines

CONCLUSION

¶11 Pursuant to 43 O.S. 1991 § 112 (D),

¶12 CERTIORARI PREVIOUSLY GRANTED; COURT OF APPEALS OPINION VACATED; TRIAL COURT AFFIRMED; CAUSE REMANDED WITH INSTRUCTIONS.

¶13 HODGES, V.C.J., and LAVENDER, SIMMS, ALMA WILSON and SUMMERS, JJ. concur.

¶14 OPALA, C.J., WATT, J. concur in part, dissent in part.

¶15 HARGRAVE, J. dissents.

Footnotes:

1 Title 43 O.S. 1991 § 112 (D) provides:

"Any child shall be entitled to support by the parents until the child reaches the age of eighteen (18) years of age. If a dependent child is regularly and continuously attending high school, said child shall be entitled to support by the parents through the age of eighteen (18) years."

Section § 112(D) formerly appeared as 12 O.S. 1981 § 1277 . It remains unchanged from its form at the time of the initial proceeding for modification.

2 In Warren v. Hunter, 632 P.2d 418, 419 (Okla. 1981), the court stated:

". . . (T)he parent who - on a day-to-day basis - is providing or will be providing the child, while in high school past the age of majority, with the necessities of life, or who is or will be supplying for that child more than his share of the common obligation, may seek from the court an order against the other parent for continuing contributions in an amount to be judicially determined; and the interparental claim is litigable in the divorce case as a modification-of-decree proceeding. . . ."

3 Title 43 O.S. 1991 § 112 (D), see note 1, supra.

4 Title 43 O.S. 1991 § 118 provides in pertinent part:

"Except in those cases where parties represented by counsel have agreed to a different disposition, there shall be a rebuttable presumption in any judicial or administrative proceeding for the award of child support, that the amount of the award which would result from the application of the following guidelines is the correct amount of child support to be awarded. The court may deviate from the level of child support suggested by these guidelines where the amount of support so indicated is unjust, inequitable, unreasonable or inappropriate under the circumstances, or not in the best interests of the child or children involved. In making such determination, the court may take into account the reasonable support obligations of either parent as to other children in the custody of said parent. If the court deviates from the amount of support indicated by these guidelines, it shall make specific findings of fact supporting such action. . . .

(19) Child support orders may be modified only upon a material change in circumstances. If the court finds there is a basis for modification, the child support guidelines provided in this act shall be used in computing child support, subject to the court's discretion to deviate from the guidelines where the amount of support is unjust, inequitable, unreasonable or not in the best interests of the child or children involved, and such deviation is supported by specific findings. . . ."

5 Title 12 O.S. 1981 § 1277 , now renumbered as Title 43 O.S. § 112 (D), see note 1, supra.

6 Id.

7 In Eusterman v. Eusterman, 41 Or. App. 717, 598 P.2d 1274, (Or. App. 1979), the Oregon court found that child support could be extended until the child reached the age of twenty-one for a child attending school. It held that the child's attendance in school was the condition necessary to show a change in circumstances for modification of a divorce decree.

8 Warren v. Hunter, see note 2, supra.

9 Title 43 O.S. 1991 § 118 , et seq.

10 Title 43 O.S. 1991 § 118 , see note 4, supra.

11 A child support computation schedule is found in 43 O.S. 1991 § 119 .

12 Title 43 O.S. 1991 § 118 , see note 4, supra.

13 Id.

14 Title 43 O.S. 1991 § 112 (D), see note 1, supra.

15 Id.

16 Warren v. Hunter, see note 2, supra.

OPALA, Chief Justice, with whom WATT, Justice, joins, dissenting in part.

I concur insofar as the court holds today that proof of changed circumstances is not necessary to extend the duty of support due a qualified high school student past his attainment of majority; but insofar as today's opinion may be read to authorize the trial court to allow post-majority support contributions to be increased or decreased without proof of changed conditions, I dissent.