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Dad’s Appeal Nets More Fees

The Court of Appeals affirms increased child support and attorney’s fee awards to mother and remands to determine her appellate fees; father’s arguments are procedurally defaulted and mother’s attorney fee requests are supported by affidavits.

Parents separated in 2003 after 11 years of marriage and three children.  A 2005 decree incorporated a modified property settlement agreement and required father to pay monthly child support of $984.80 starting March 2005.  In 2011, the juvenile and domestic relations district (JDR) court increased father’s support obligation; the circuit court on appeal awarded monthly child support of $1,584 and $2,000 of mother’s attorney’s fees.  After noting an appeal, father filed a proposed statement of facts.  After hearing argument, the trial court rejected father’s statement for noncompliance with Rule 5A:8(c), inappropriate references to the JDR court and argument.  The court awarded mother attorney’s fees of $2,065.

On appeal, father advances five assignments of error, all procedurally defaulted.  Even pro se litigants must comply with the rules of court.  Father disputes the increased support, arguing mother is voluntarily underemployed, but the record is insufficient to determine father preserved this issue as required by Rule 5A:18.  There is no hearing transcript, no approved statement of facts, or motion to reconsider; father’s statement signing the support order as “seen and objected to” is insufficient.  Father’s arguments about the increase relating back to service of mother’s petition and attorney’s fees in the support matter similarly fail for noncompliance with Rule 5A:18.  Contrary to father’s argument, the trial court properly rejected father’s proposed statement of facts for noncompliance with Rule 5A:8(c), requiring service with a notice of hearing between 15 and 20 days after filing, as well as inappropriate content.  The trial court did not abuse its discretion awarding mother more fees to challenge father’s proposed statement of facts. Father cites no authority required by Rule 5A:20(e) for his argument that he should have received a copy of the attorney’s fee affidavit after he was late to the hearing.  We award mother appellate attorney’s fees and remand for their determination.

Lilley v. Wilson (Per Curiam) No. 0307-12-4, Sept. 25, 2012; Fauquier Cir. Ct. (Whisenant)  Ronald A. Lilley, pro se; Catherine M. Bowers for appellee. VLW 012-7-258(UP), 7 pp.



VLW 012-7-258

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