Brown v. Brown
A court can order a departure from the presumptive amount of child support, if "significant visitation expenses" are required to maintain a satisfactory relationship. The plaintiff doctor, Matthew Brown, moved to modify child support, because his oldest child reached the age of majority and graduated from high school. Brown requested a downward departure in child support for the youngest child, who is 14 years old, because Brown spent $9,500 to visit the minor child in Canada. He also spent $3,775, so that the minor child could visit the father in the U.S. The court did not dispute costs of plane travel, lodging and meals. The husband allegedly admitted that his employer reimbursed a portion of his travel costs and that he included items such as swimming with dolphins, scuba diving and major league baseball tickets in his travel costs, although entertainment does not qualify as a travel expense. The presumptive child support pursuant to the child support guidelines is $473 per week. The court found that a downward departure would undermine the alimony award. The husband earns more than $400,000 gross per year as a transplant surgeon. The defendant wife is finishing a nursing degree. "Every dollar less the mother receives," wrote the court, "reduces her ability to provide for the child." The court rejected the husband's claim that child support should be reduced as a result of extraordinary travel expenses. The court ordered the husband to pay child support of $525 per week.