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Camacho v. Camacho

Alabama Court of Civil Appeals

February 15, 2019

Maria C. Camacho
v.
Juan M. Camacho

          Appeal from Montgomery Circuit Court (DR-10-900253.04)

          THOMPSON, PRESIDING JUDGE.

         Maria C. Camacho ("the mother") appeals from a judgment of the Montgomery Circuit Court ("the trial court") that, among other things not pertinent to this appeal, found that Juan M. Camacho ("the father") had paid all previously ordered child support but had an alimony arrearage in the amount of $29, 117.82. The father was found to be in contempt for his failure to pay his monthly alimony obligation, and a judgment in the amount of $29, 117.82 was entered against him.

         On appeal, the mother challenges the trial court's mathematical calculations as to both child support and the alimony arrearage. The record indicates the following relevant facts. On September 27, 2012, a previous judge of the trial court entered a judgment finding that the father was in arrears as to his child-support obligation in the amount of $19, 691.52 and was in arrears as to his alimony obligation in the amount of $12, 100. The judgment explicitly provided that "execution may issue" for both amounts; it did not direct the father to make payments toward the arrearages over time. Additionally, in the September 2012 judgment, the father was ordered to pay child support in the amount of $855 a month and alimony in the amount of $650 a month. The father did not appeal from that judgment.

         In June 2017, the mother filed a petition in the trial court, alleging, among other things, that the father was again in arrears as to his child-support and alimony obligations. The trial on the mother's petition was held on May 29, 2018. On that day, the mother introduced into evidence a "court order payment summary" ("the summary") from the State of Alabama Child Support Enforcement Division. The summary was dated four days earlier, May 25, 2018. It indicated that, on May 25, 2018, the father had a total child-support arrearage of $22, 300.64 and a total alimony arrearage of $45, 740.53. Also introduced into evidence were documents from the Alabama Department of Revenue and the federal Department of the Treasury indicating that a total of seven tax refunds had been intercepted from the father because of his failure to pay child support. The records indicate a total of seven intercepts amounting to $11, 440.66. Each of those tax intercepts is accounted for in the summary and is reflected as a credit to the father.

         In addition to the tax intercepts, in a previous hearing the trial court had given the father a credit of $3, 679.01 when, in open court, the father turned over to the mother a tax-refund check made payable to both the mother and the father in the amount of $7, 358.11. The $3, 679.01 represented the father's share of that refund.

         No other documentary evidence regarding payments made to the mother for child support or alimony appears in the record. There is also nothing in the record to indicate that amounts due from the 2012 judgment had been paid, even in part. In the current action, the father testified that he did not owe any "back child support." However, the father also acknowledged that he did not have any canceled checks or other evidence of payments made to the mother outside of the amounts withheld from his paycheck and the tax intercepts, both of which are reflected in the summary.

         After the trial, the trial court entered a judgment finding that the father "has paid all child support as previously ordered." The father was found in contempt for his failure to pay alimony as ordered. After giving the father a credit of $15, 082.18, the trial court determined that the father had an alimony arrearage in the amount of $29, 117.82 for the period of October 2012 through May 2018. The judgment does not identify the source of that credit.

         On June 26, 2018, the mother filed a timely motion to alter, amend, or vacate the judgment, asserting that the calculations leading to the trial court's determination of the amount of the alimony arrearage and the conclusion that the father did not owe any past-due child support were incorrect. The next day, the trial court entered an order denying the mother's postjudgment motion. In the order, the trial court stated:

"The Court meticulously calculated all monies paid by the [father] (via Income Withholding, tax intercepts and one half of the tax refund check); and determined the total child support due for the applicable periods against the total amount paid, and did in fact determine no past due child support as the amount paid was over the amount due. The Court thereafter calculated the total amount of alimony due for the applicable periods against any remaining amount ($15, 082.15) not applied to child support and established the 'current' alimony arrears provided in the order."

         The trial court also noted that the money the child-support-enforcement division received from the father "should have been allocated to child support, for the children first and foremost." The trial court added that, because it deemed the father current on his child support, "no new interest could be applied and none was granted."

         After the denial of her postjudgment motion, the mother filed a timely notice of appeal. The father did not submit a brief on appeal.

         On appeal, the mother argues that the trial court erred in its calculations regarding the payment of the father's child-support obligation and its resulting determination that the father had "paid all child support as previously ordered." She also contends that the trial court erred in determining that the father was entitled to a credit of $15, 082.18 toward his total alimony arrearage and that the father's alimony arrearage was improperly calculated.

         Using the figures contained in the record on appeal, this court has made an effort to recreate the trial court's calculations so that this court might arrive at results at least similar to those the trial court reached in ...


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