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Pittman v. Flanagan

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, First Circuit

September 27, 2019


          On Appeal from the Twenty -Second Judicial District Court In and for the Parish of St. Tammany State of Louisiana Docket No. 2011- 14788 Honorable Dawn Amacker, Judge Presiding

          Eric A. Bopp Walter R. Woodruff, Jr. Tyler S. Loga Mandeville, Louisiana Attorneys for Appellant/Defendant/ Plaintiff -in -Reconvention, Henry P. Flanagan

          Lindsey M. Ladouceur Jane C. Alvarez Abita Springs, Louisiana Attorneys for Appellee/Plaintiff/ Defendant -in -Reconvention Susan L. Pittman

          Ernest S. Anderson Slidell, Louisiana Attorney for Appellees/Defendantsin- Reconvention C.P. and T.P., minor children


          PENZATO, J.

         Appellant, Henry P. Flanagan, appeals the trial court judgment setting child support for three minor children. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the judgment.


         Appellee, Susan L. Pittman, and Henry were divorced on October 3, 2003, and one child was born during the marriage. Henry agreed to pay child support for this child by consent agreement. Twins were born to Susan on May 15, 2004, and Susan alleged that Henry had formally acknowledged these children by placing his name on their birth certificates. It is undisputed that Henry is not the biological father of the twins, but that the birth occurred 225 days after the judgment of divorce, making Henry the presumptive father pursuant to La. C.C. art. 185. Susan originally filed this matter on August 19, 2011, when she filed a petition for registration of support order for modification, to establish child custody, to modify child custody, and to establish child support. As part of the petition and an amended petition, which was subsequently filed, Susan requested that the trial court order Henry to increase child support for his biological child and pay child support for the twins.[1]

         Henry filed a motion to reduce child support on October 31, 2016, which was set for hearing on February 21, 2017. At the February 21, 2017 hearing, the trial court decided other pending matters, and continued the issue of child support until May 2, 2017. Prior to that hearing, on March 1, 2017, Susan filed a motion to reset the hearing on petition to establish Henry's child support obligation, which the trial court also set for hearing on May 2, 2017. On May 2, 2017, the trial court continued the hearing on child support and other issues until June 21, 2017. The minutes do not reflect that a hearing took place on June 21, 2017. On December 13, 2017, the trial court heard other pending matters and noted that the only issue remaining was child support. On this same date, the trial court signed a case management schedule setting a trial on April 16, 2018, for the determination of child support. At the pre-trial conference held on April 6, 2018, Henry requested a continuance, which the trial court denied. On April 16, 2018, Henry was hospitalized, and the trial court did grant a continuance on the issue of child support until May 9, 2018.

         The trial took place on May 9, 2018. At the conclusion of the evidence, the trial court took the matter under advisement and issued oral reasons for its ruling on May 15, 2018, implementing child support for all three children; making executory the arrearages owed by Henry; ordering Henry to maintain the three children on his health insurance; and setting percentages for extraordinary expenses of the children, such as tuition, books, athletic expenses, and travel. On June 11, 2018, the trial court signed a judgment in accordance with its oral ruling. It is from this judgment that Henry appeals.


         Henry assigns as error that the trial court inappropriately limited the time of trial; erred in refusing to permit his financial expert to testify; and erred in refusing to allow the expert's entire testimony to be proffered.

         Manner of Trial

         Henry claims that he was denied due process by the trial court's time limitation of the trial. He asserts that he was prevented from presenting "all relevant and admissible and noncumulative evidence in his possession by the allotted time." As support, he asserts that he had to make twenty-seven proffers on the record while he only had time during the trial to introduce one exhibit into evidence.

         We note that the transcript does not contain exact times, but there were some preliminary matters heard by the court prior to the beginning of the trial on May 9, 2018. ...

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