Published: Opinion Affirming
Father appeals order of Kenton Circuit
Court requiring him to pay, as part of his child support, amounts for respite
care and work-related childcare, as well as part of Mother’s attorney fees and
The parties were married in 1994 and
divorced in 2007. They have two
children, one of whom requires extra care because of autism. At the time of the divorce, Father lived in
Cincinnati and Mother lived in Ft. Mitchell, Kentucky. In January, 2011, Father took a job in Abu
Dhabi, United Arab Emirates earning approximately $32,000 a month. Mother also went to work earning $46,000 a
Mother filed a motion in March, 2011
because Father was unable to exercise parenting time after his move to Abu
Dhabi. She asked that Father be required
to pay for a sitter to give her time off from caring for the children. She also requested that he share work-related
childcare costs and her attorney fees.
Even after Father’s subsequent move to Texas, he was unable to exercise
parenting time on a regular basis.
The trial court ordered Father to pay
100% of any childcare costs incurred when he did not exercise his parenting
time, which was designated as respite care.
Father was also ordered to pay work-related childcare expenses and to
pay $3500.00 of Mother’s attorney fees.
After Father’s motion to alter, amend, or vacate was denied, this appeal
Father first argued that respite care is
not authorized under Kentucky law. The
Court of Appeals disagreed, finding that the award of respite care was similar
to work-related childcare, and was not an increase in Father’s general child
support obligation. This expense was
specifically and adequately justified by the trial court.
Father further argued that the trial
court erred when it awarded Mother work-related childcare expenses. He claimed that even if she incurred the
expenses, they were only temporary.
Again, the Court of Appeals disagreed, holding that Mother had only to
prove that there had been a change of circumstances requiring the payment of
work-related childcare expenses. Father
had to pay his share of those expenses, whether or not they were temporary.
The Court of Appeals found no abuse of
discretion in the award of $3500 in attorney fees. Father earned $450,000 in Abu Dhabi and about
$250,000 after his move to Texas. Mother
only earned $46,000 per year. Because of the disparity in the parties’ incomes,
the award of attorney fees was not an abuse of discretion.