Sekik v. Abdelnabi (Tennessee 2021)

No. E2019-01302-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. 2020)
January 2021

When evidence supports the determination of a parent’s income, it will not be overturned as an abuse of discretion.  In this divorce case, the parents agreed to support for four children in a temporary parenting plan entered in 2012. By the time the final decree was entered in 2019, the father was incarcerated. In the final order, the support amount was reduced pro rata since two children had emancipated. The father moved for a new trial on a variety of issues, including the child support. The court denied the motion, and he appealed. Specific to child support, he argued that the court had no evidence of either party’s earning capacity and should have imputed the minimum income specified in the guidelines to both parents. The appellate court upheld the child support order. The mother testified as to her actual income from her work as a phone interpreter. To impute her at the guideline amount would not have been appropriate. The father argued the court should have imputed him at a lower income, which would have resulted in a lower support obligation. The appellate court found no abuse of discretion in the amount of income imputed to father. The child support amount was based on the amount set in the temporary parenting. Plan, to which the father agreed. At that time, he was a high earner and he had substantial property interests in Gaza. The final child support order was based on the original amount, reduced to reflect the emancipation of two children. The father can’t now complain there was not sufficient evidence of his income. The father also appealed the amount of retroactive support. He argued it included support for a time period during which he and the mother had reconciled. The appellate court found testimony in the record to the contrary and language in an order that outlined how the award of retroactive support was calculated.