Appealed from the Family Court In and for the Parish of East
Baton Rouge State of Louisiana Docket Number 206826 Honorable
Charlene Charlet Day, Judge Presiding
P. Gaspard Baton Rouge, LA Counsel for Plaintiff/Appellant
Andrea Ceola Bell.
Veronica" Vicky" Jones Baton Rouge, LA Counsel for
Defendant/Appellee Terral Carl Jackson, Jr.
BEFORE: WHIPPLE, C.J., McCLENDON, AND HIGGINBOTHAM, JJ.
Ceola Bell appeals a judgment of the family court that
imputed income to Terral Carl Jackson, Jr. and deviated from
the child support guidelines. For the following reasons, we
vacate the judgment and remand this case for further
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
parties in this matter, Andrea Ceola Bell and Terral Carl
Jackson, Jr., were engaged in a brief relationship, which
produced one child, born on November 6, 2015. On October 27,
2016, Ms. Bell filed a Petition to Establish Paternity and
Child Support in the Family Court for East Baton Rouge
Parish, requesting that Terral Carl Jackson, Jr. be
recognized by judicial decree as the natural and biological
father of the minor child and that he be ordered to pay child
support for the care and maintenance of the minor child as
well as his percentage share of maintaining a policy of
health, dental, and vision insurance for the minor child, and
his percentage share of payments of any non-insured medical
expenses and any extraordinary expenses for the minor
discovery requests filed into the record of this proceeding,
Mr. Jackson alleged he received an average income of $3,
000.00 per month as a result of his co-ownership in and
ventures he promoted with the Allure Nightclub and
Ultralounge ("Allure"), but was unemployed due to
the closure of Allure. In his testimony at trial, Mr. Jackson
indicated that he intended to find more stable employment,
but he was continuing to do work as a promoter of events in
addition to some work in marketing and as a disc jockey.
Notwithstanding his purported $3, 000.00 average income, Mr.
Jackson alleged monthly expenses totaling $8,
757.65. Additionally, Mr. Jackson admitted that he
has never filed federal or state income tax returns.
in this matter was held on January 22 and 29, 2018, during
which both Ms. Bell and Mr. Jackson testified. (Rl. 3, 69;
R2. 192). Evidence was introduced and included Mr.
Jackson's bank statements, copies of checks and
withdrawal receipts for one of Mr. Jackson's accounts, a
spreadsheet Mr. Jackson and his wife created to account for
some of the withdrawal receipts, an in globo exhibit
containing invoices, estimates, proposals, and a portion of a
lease agreement, and one vendor invoice history.
February 15, 2018, the trial court issued a partial ruling in
open court and imputed income of $8, 471.00 to Mr. Jackson.
Following the trial court's ruling and declaration of Mr.
Jackson's imputed income, counsel for Mr. Jackson orally
requested a deviation from the child support guidelines based
on Mr. Jackson's purported obligation for a minor
daughter conceived from a different relationship and
allegedly living with him in his home. In open court on
February 27, 2018, the trial court granted Mr. Jackson a
deviation from the child support guidelines in the amount of
$400.00. The trial court found Ms. Bell to have a gross
monthly income of $5, 649.00 for the period of November 1,
2016 to December 31, 2016 and a gross monthly income of $7,
996.00 from January 1, 2017 to present. Applying the $8,
471.00 imputed income of Mr. Jackson with the deviation of
$400.00 to all applicable periods, the trial court ordered
Mr. Jackson to pay $845.00 in monthly child support for the
period of November 1, 2016 to December 31, 2016; $798.00 per
month for the period of January 1, 2017 through December 31,
2017; and $799.00 per month beginning on January 1,
guidelines for the determination of child support obligations
are set forth in LSA-R.S. 9:315, et seq, and rely on
the combined adjusted monthly gross income of the parents.
St. Philip v. Montalbano, 2016-0254 (La.App.
1st Cir. 10/31/16), 206 So.3d 909, 912, writ
denied, 2016-2110 (La. 1/13/17), 215 So.3d 255. A trial
court's determination of the monthly gross income of a
parent and the parents' credibility is subject to a
manifest error standard of review. State v.
Alexander, 2014-615 (La.App. 3rd Cir.
11/5/14), 150 So.3d 679, 680; also see Lambert v.
Lambert, 2006-2399 (La.App. 1st Cir.
3/23/07), 960 So.2d 921, 924- 27. Generally, the trial
court's order of child support is entitled to great
weight and will not be disturbed on appeal absent clear abuse
of discretion. Verges v. Verges, 2001-0208 (La.App.
1st Cir. 3/28/02), 815 So.2d 356, 363, writ
denied, 2002- 1528 (La. 9/20/02), 825 So.2d 1179.
Income versus Actual Income ...