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MacMahon v. Tinkham

Supreme Judicial Court of Maine

January 29, 2015

CHRISTOPHER MacMAHON
v.
ELIZABETH TINKHAM

Submitted on Briefs December 18, 2014

On the briefs:

Dori F. Chadbourne, Esq., Chadbourne Law Offices, P.A., Portland, for appellant Christopher MacMahon.

Roderick H. Potter, Esq., Saco, for appellee Elizabeth Tinkham.

Panel: SAUFLEY, C.J., and MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, and HJELM, JJ.

OPINION

Page 1142

SAUFLEY, C.J.

[¶1] Christopher MacMahon appeals from a judgment entered in the District Court (Portland, Eggert, J.) denying his motion for contempt against Elizabeth Tinkham for failing to pay child support for the parties' daughters. MacMahon primarily argues that the record compels a finding of contempt because it demonstrates that Tinkham failed to comply with a valid child support order to the fullest extent possible and that she has the present ability to pay. We affirm the judgment.

Page 1143

I. BACKGROUND

[¶2] Christopher MacMahon and Elizabeth Tinkham are former spouses who have two daughters together, ages seven and nine at the time of hearing. Tinkham is the mother of four other children--two adolescent sons from previous relationships and two younger children from her current relationship.

[¶3] MacMahon and Tinkham divorced in October 2009. MacMahon was eventually awarded primary physical residence of the girls, with Tinkham to have primary physical residence during school summer vacations. When MacMahon was granted primary physical residence, no child support was awarded to either party. In October 2011, MacMahon moved for an order requiring Tinkham to pay child support when he became aware that Tinkham had significantly more income than she had previously reported. One year later, the court entered a modified judgment of parental rights and responsibilities requiring Tinkham to pay child support to MacMahon. In calculating child support, the court imputed minimum-wage income of $15,600 to MacMahon, who had not worked since 2010, when he sustained physical and mental injuries from a serious car accident. The court determined Tinkham's income to be $35,000 based on Tinkham's business income from 2011 and her projected business sales for 2012. In the modified judgment, the court determined that a downward deviation from the child support guidelines was appropriate " [d]ue to the time and expense involved with the children on [Tinkham's] behalf." It ultimately ordered Tinkham to pay $103 per week in child support, adjusted downward from the child support worksheet calculation of $133.12 per week, effective September 21, 2012.[1]

[¶4] In December 2013, MacMahon filed a motion for contempt pursuant to M.R. Civ. P. 66(d), alleging that Tinkham " wilfully failed and refused to pay the ordered child support for her daughters." After a hearing, the court found the following facts, which are viewed in the light most favorable to support the trial court's judgment. See Pratt v. Spaulding, 2003 ME 56, ¶ 10, 822 A.2d 1183.

[¶5] Tinkham currently lives with her boyfriend in Guilford. The undisputed evidence showed that she recently purchased, in a foreclosure proceeding, the home they are living in for approximately $16,000, which she borrowed from her grandmother. She and her boyfriend have six children living with them; they have two biological children together, and ...


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