Kennedy v. Kennedy (Nebraska 2019)

No. A-18-824 (Neb. Ct. App. 2019)
July 2019

A parent who requests a modification of child support must show a material change in circumstances occurred after the entry of the original decree and that wasn’t contemplated when the decree was entered. A lower income isn’t necessarily a change if the parent’s choices led to the reduction. The state of Nebraska filed to modify the father’s child support based on a change in income. The father had lost his job as a master electrician. He then started his own business, which didn’t do well. Shortly after the modification filing, the child was placed in a group home. During the hearing, the father made an oral motion to suspend his support. The district court denied both the state’s modification and the request to suspend support. The district court found the father failed to show that he couldn’t find comparable work and didn’t prove that his business would continue to lose money. The father appealed. The court of appeals upheld the district court decision. It found that while his circumstances weren’t entirely his fault, the father wasn’t willing to take necessary steps, such as moving, to find a job with similar pay. His testimony didn’t indicate long-term low performance for his business. The appellate court further found no error in denying his motion to suspend support. The placement was short term, and the child still had needs upon her return home.