STATE OF LOUISIANA, DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES IN THE INTEREST OF E. R. AND O. R.
APPEAL FROM THE JEFFERSON PARISH JUVENILE COURT PARISH OF
JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA NO. 06-NS-49, DIVISION
"C" HONORABLE BARRON C. BURMASTER, JUDGE PRESIDING
COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE, STATE OF LOUISIANA,
DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES IN THE INTEREST OF
E. R. AND O. R. Paul D. Connick, Jr. Michael L. Ballero
Timothy P. O'Rourke.
COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT, KIRK REDMANN Michael A.
composed of Judges Jude G. Gravois, Marc E. Johnson, and
Robert A. Chaisson.
E. JOHNSON JUDGE.
a child support case in which Defendant appeals the juvenile
court's judgment finding that he owes $845.00 for child
support expenses. In the judgment, the juvenile court granted
Defendant a temporary reduction of his monthly child support
obligations, but concluded he owed $1, 345.00 for his
proportionate share of extraordinary expenses minus a $250.00
credit for each of the two minor children. The juvenile court
further determined that Defendant is not owed any
reimbursement for any of the health insurance premiums he
paid. For the following reasons, we vacate the juvenile
court's judgment and remand the matter for a new hearing.
& PROCEDURAL HISTORY
to the record before us, the State of Louisiana Department of
Social Services through the District Attorney for the Parish
of Jefferson ("State") began providing support
enforcement services to Helen Redmann on January 11, 2006. As
such, all child support issues between Helen Redmann and Kirk
Redmann were transferred from the 24th Judicial
District Court to Juvenile Court for the Parish of Jefferson.
appeal arises from Kirk's motion for reduction of child
support and for future credit for amounts owed, which he
filed in proper person on April 1, 2015. In his motion, he
sought a reduction in the amount of monthly child support he
owed for his two minor children on the basis he had been
unemployed since January 31, 2015. He also sought a credit
for Helen's proportionate share of health insurance
premiums for the children that she allegedly had not paid.
Kirk maintained that he had paid the totality of health
insurance premiums for the children from September 2007
through March 2015 in the amount of $19, 927, despite a court
order dated December 16, 2002 in which Helen was ordered to
pay 46% of the premiums.
hearing on the motion was held on July 9, 2015 before the
hearing officer. The hearing officer recommended that
Kirk's motion to reduce child support be granted and that
his child support obligation be reduced on an interim basis
from $786 per month to $265.65 per month, retroactive to the
filing date of April 1, 2015 once a permanent order was
entered. The hearing officer also recommended that each
parent be responsible for his or her percentage share of
extraordinary medical expenses. The hearing officer did not
address the issue of credits and instructed the parties to
meet with the State to review the receipts submitted by each
as they related to requested credits. Helen disagreed with
the recommendation, specifically the interim reduction of
child support, and a disagreement hearing before the juvenile
court judge was set.
parties appeared in proper person before Judge Barron
Burmaster on August 10, 2015 for a disagreement hearing.
Among the issues was who owed whom what in terms of
extraordinary medical expenses, school expenses, and other
expenses incurred on behalf of the children over the past
seven or eight years. Specifically, Kirk claimed Helen owed
him over $9, 000 for her proportionate share of health
insurance premiums that he had paid for the children since
2007, and Helen claimed Kirk owed her approximately $9, 000
for his proportionate share of other expenses she had paid on
behalf of the children. Helen admitted that she had not paid
Kirk her 46% proportionate share of health insurance, but
stated that she instead paid all the additional necessary
expenses for the children which she indicated she documented
by her canceled checks. Kirk challenged Helen's claimed
expenses on the basis that either she had already been
reimbursed for the expenses, the expenses were ones covered
by the basic monthly child support, or the expenses were not
owed as child support.
the hearing, Helen requested a continuance so she could
retain counsel. The trial judge granted Helen's requested
continuance and set the interim child support owed by Kirk at
$400 per month, as opposed to his prior obligation of $786 or
the hearing officer's recommendation of $265.65.
parties again appeared in court on October 19, 2015 for the
continuation of the disagreement hearing. Both parties again
appeared in proper person, at which time Helen advised the
court that she opted not to obtain counsel because of the
cost. The parties discussed the documentation, namely
spreadsheets, and lack of documentation provided by each to
support his or her position and to controvert that of the
opposing party. The trial judge noted that at that juncture,
the only way for him to figure it all out was to bring in a
forensic accountant, which he warned was very expensive. In
an effort to avoid the expense of a forensic accountant, the
trial judge instructed Helen to provide Kirk with "all
her tax returns and everything, " including an itemized
list of what she claims Kirk owes her. He also instructed
Kirk to show the court what he has paid. Kirk again voiced
his objection that some things included on Helen's
spreadsheet were non-covered expenses and, therefore, not
court again continued the hearing on the issue of credits
pending further documentation by the parties relating to
expenses incurred and paid. The court ordered Kirk to