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Pyle v. Pyle

Supreme Court of Maine

May 23, 2017

NICKY PYLE
v.
ROBERT PYLE

          Submitted on Briefs: April 27, 2017

          Zachary Brandmeir, Esq., Bangor, for appellant Robert Pyle.

          Anthony A. Trask, Esq., and Kristy M. Hapworth, Esq., Rudman Winchell, Bangor, for appellee Nicky Pyle.

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

          JABAR, J.

         [¶1] Robert Pyle appeals from a judgment of the District Court (Bangor, Larson, J.) awarding child support and primary residence of the parties children to his former spouse, Nicky Pyle. Robert contends on appeal that the court erred in two ways: first, by awarding primary residence of the children to Nicky, and second, by incorrectly calculating Roberts child support obligation. We disagree with his first contention and therefore affirm in part, but agree that the court committed clear error in its factual findings regarding the calculation of Roberts obligation to pay for the childrens health insurance, and we vacate that portion of the judgment related to the health insurance component of Roberts child support obligation.

         I. BACKGROUND

         [¶2] The following factual findings are supported by the record. See Robertson v. Gerakaris, 2015 ME 83, ¶ 2, 119 A.3d 739. Nicky and Robert Pyle were married on September 5, 2003. They have two children, aged 7 and 11. Nicky has worked for sixteen years as a computed tomography scan technician. Robert is employed as a scrub technician and, for about three years, has also operated a landscaping business.

         [¶3] In December 2015, Nicky filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences. She and Robert agreed to and the court (Campbell, J.) entered a stipulated interim order, which established that the children would reside primarily with Nicky, that Nicky and Robert would share parental rights and responsibilities, and that Robert would pay $212.23 as child support and $98.60 as interim spousal support each week. Robert filed an answer and counterclaimed for divorce in January 2016. A mediation held on February 4, 2016, failed to resolve all of the issues between the parties.

         [¶4] After a hearing on June 29, 2016, the court (Larson, J.) entered a divorce judgment. The court found that Nicky has been the primary caretaker of the children, and that she has been primarily responsible for providing for their basic needs, such as feeding, bathing, religious education, arranging and attending healthcare appointments, and arranging and attending parent-teacher conferences. The court found that Nicky "is far more aware and involved" in the older childs special needs, including extensive health issues related to allergies, and mental health concerns stemming from his anxiety about his allergies. The court emphasized that Roberts two jobs "will make it difficult for him to share equally in caring for the children." Therefore, after considering the "best interest" standard pursuant to 19-AM.R.S. § 1653 (2016), the court concluded that the contact schedule already in place had been working well and that primary residence should remain with Nicky.

         [¶5] The divorce judgment also incorporated a child support order requiring that Robert pay $475.36 each week in child support, including $61.36 weekly for health insurance. The court found that Roberts financial disclosures, which were based on his 2015 tax returns, had understated income from his landscaping business, and thus calculated the child support payments on the basis of income extrapolated from deposits to Roberts business bank account rather than the income shown on his tax return.

         [¶6] Robert now timely appeals the courts judgment. See M.R. App. P. 2(b)(3).

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. ...


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