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Guste v. Guste

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit

April 19, 2017

CHRISTI R. GUSTE
v.
BERNARD GUSTE, JR.

          APPEAL FROM CIVIL DISTRICT COURT, ORLEANS PARISH NO. 2014-07419, DIVISION "K" Honorable Bernadette D'Souza, Judge

          Richard G. Perque, COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT

          Pat M. Franz Keith R. Credo PAT M. FRANZ & ASSOCIATES, L.L.C. COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE

          Court composed of Judge Roland L. Belsome, Judge Daniel L. Dysart, Judge Rosemary Ledet

          Daniel L. Dysart, Judge

          In this domestic matter, Christi R. Guste appeals the trial court's rulings on child support and custody. Ms. Guste argues that the trial court committed several errors with regard to the award of child support, and with regard to an evidentiary issue at trial. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the the trial court's decision.

         BACKGROUND:

         Appellant, Ms. Guste and Bernard Guste, Jr., appellee, were married on June 5, 2010. They resided in Orleans Parish, and at the time of trial, had two children, ages four and two.

         Ms. Guste filed a Petition for Divorce as well as other matters, including child support and custody, on July 29, 2014. After a failed mediation attempt, the trial court ordered a custody evaluation. The parties thereafter entered into a Consent Judgment dated March 5, 2015, wherein Mr. Guste was ordered to pay $600 per month child support for the children, with an additional $500 per month for the children's tuition.

          Trial on the divorce and other matters commenced on June 23, 2015, and was heard over four days concluding on August 26, 2015. A final judgment, along with reasons, was rendered on September 23, 2015. The trial court awarded joint, shared custody of the children, with equal physical custody. Mr. Guste was ordered to pay $533.70 per month as child support.

         DISCUSSION:

         Ms. Guste makes several assignments of error questioning the trial court's child support award. Specifically, she argues that the trial court erred in permitting Mr. Guste to depreciate assets in calculating Mr. Guste's gross income, in not making the child support award retroactive, and in failing to order reimbursement of school tuition. She also argues that the trial court erred in not admitting certain medical records maintained by Dr. Luscher, who conducted the custody evaluation.

         We first address the assignments of error concerning the support award. The Louisiana legislature had established guidelines for the implementation of child support. La. R.S. 9:315, et seq. The guidelines are designed to fairly apportion between the parents the mutual obligation they owe to their children in an efficient, consistent and adequate manner. Bickham v. Bickham, 46, 264, p. 8 (La.App. 2 Cir. 3/2/11), 58 So.3d 950, 956. Child support is to be granted in proportion to the needs of the children and the ability of the parents to provide support. La. Civ. Code art. 141; Bickham, 46, 264, p. 8, 58 So.3d at 956-57. An appellate court is not to disturb a trial court's factual findings absent an abuse of discretion or manifest error. Rosell v. ESCO, 549 So.2d 840 (La. 1989).

          In her first assignment of error, Ms. Guste argues that the trial court erred in permitting Mr. Guste to depreciate certain assets, thereby reducing his gross income for purposes of determining child support. Mr. Guste owns several rental properties in Orleans Parish. On his 2014 IRS 1040 form, he claimed a ...


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