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Wallace v. Wallace

Supreme Court of Georgia

November 24, 2014

WALLACE
v.
WALLACE

Domestic relations. Camden Superior Court. Before Judge Caldwell, pro hac vice.

Judgment affirmed in part and reversed in part, and case remanded with direction.

Garnett Harrison , Jaqueline N. Fortier, for appellant.

Michael B. Perry, for appellee.

HINES, Presiding Justice. All the Justices concur.

OPINION

Page 453

Hines, Presiding Justice.

Pursuant to Rule 34 (4) of this Court, Teresa Wallace (" Mother" ) was granted a discretionary appeal from the superior court's final judgment and decree of divorce. For the reasons that follow, we affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand the case with direction.

[296 Ga. 308] Mother and Christopher Wallace (" Father" ), who is an active duty serviceman in the United States Navy, were married in 2002, and have three minor children. On December 21, 2012, Mother filed a complaint for divorce. The parties agreed that they would have joint legal custody of the children, and that Mother would have primary physical custody; agreement was not reached on certain other matters, including child support. At the beginning of the final hearing, both parties agreed to waive findings of fact and conclusions of law. The court announced that it intended to set Father's child support amount at $1,300 per month, and to award him a deviation from that amount for travel expenses of $400 per month to see the children once a month, resulting in a total monthly support obligation on Father's part of $900 for the couple's three children. After the court's pronouncement, Mother orally requested that the court make findings of fact and conclusions of law " only as it pertains to child support." The court said it would do so if Mother furnished a transcript of the hearing. Approximately two months later, the court issued its final decree and judgment of divorce, stating a presumptive amount of child support of $1,300, and " award[ing Father] a deviation for travel in the amount of $400.00 to see his children once a month." Mother did not provide a transcript to the trial court before the court issued its final decree and judgment of divorce.

1. Mother enumerates as error the trial court's failure to enter required written findings to support its travel deviation from the presumptive amount of child support. Under OCGA § 19-6-15 (c) (2) (E), if the trial court determines that a deviation from the presumptive child support amount is applicable, the court must " [i]nclude written findings of fact," and these findings must set forth:

(i) The reasons the court ... deviated from the presumptive amount of child support;
(ii) The amount of child support that would have been required under this Code section if the presumptive amount of child support had not been rebutted; and
(iii) A finding that states how the court's ... application of the child support guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate considering the relative ability of each parent ...

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