Craig v. Craig, WD84571

CourtCourt of Appeal of Missouri (US)
Writing for the CourtKaren King Mitchell, Presiding Judge
PartiesLACY ANNE CRAIG, Respondent, v. CORY WAYNE CRAIG, Appellant.
Docket NumberWD84571
Decision Date03 May 2022

LACY ANNE CRAIG, Respondent,


No. WD84571

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Second Division

May 3, 2022

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Macon County, Missouri The Honorable Mike Greenwell, Judge

Before: Karen King Mitchell, Presiding Judge, and Edward R. Ardini, Jr., and Thomas N. Chapman, Judges.

Karen King Mitchell, Presiding Judge

Cory Craig (Husband) appeals from the trial court's dissolution judgment. Husband raises six points on appeal, arguing that the trial court erred in: (1) ordering child support for two children because the oldest child failed to comply with § 452.340.5;[1] (2) ordering support for the oldest child because she failed to comply with § 452.340.5; (3) failing to appoint a guardian ad litem (GAL); (4) ordering retroactive child support for extraordinary expenses and back support because the oldest child failed to comply with § 452.340.5; (5) offsetting Lacy Craig's (Wife) assets with


credit card debt; and (6) dividing the property in a manner that was neither equitable nor fair. Finding no error, we affirm.


Husband and Wife were married on June 1, 1996, and had two children born of the marriage: M.C. (born 3/16/2000) and C.C. (born 6/16/2003). The parties separated on January 9, 2019. At the time, M.C. was 18 years old and had been enrolled as a student at the University of Missouri since August of 2018. Wife filed a petition for dissolution on June 5, 2019. In the petition, Wife sought sole legal and physical custody of C.C. (the only child under the age of 18) with visitation to Husband at C.C.'s discretion, given her mature age (nearly 16 at the time of filing). Wife also sought child support, extraordinary expenses, and post-secondary educational expenses for the children.

On November 18, 2019, Wife filed a motion for temporary child support and other costs. The court granted her motion on July 10, 2020, ordering Husband to pay temporary child support in the amount of $1, 149.00 per month. Thereafter, Husband filed a motion to reconsider the award of temporary child support payments, arguing that, in calculating the amount, the trial court disregarded contributions made by Husband for the financial support of the children; he raised no other claims of error.

The court held a bifurcated trial, deciding on dissolution, the parenting plan, child support and expenses in the first phase and dividing assets and debts in the second phase. The court awarded sole legal and physical custody of C.C. to Wife and ordered Husband to pay $1, 149.00 per month in child support going forward and $14, 937.00 in retroactive support for June 2019 through June 2020. The court noted that, when M.C. was either emancipated or reached the age of 21 (whichever came first), Husband's monthly child support obligation would drop to $824.00.


The court further ordered Husband to pay $6, 784.25 to Wife for extraordinary expenses for the children, after crediting Husband for payments he made on car loans and insurance. After dividing the personal property and real estate, the court ordered Husband to make an equalization payment to Wife in the amount of $48, 327.72. Husband appeals.

Standard of Review

"On review of a court-tried case, [we will] affirm the circuit court's judgment unless there is no substantial evidence to support it, it is against the weight of the evidence, or it erroneously declares or applies the law." Aldrich v. Aldrich, 637 S.W.3d 485, 489 (Mo. App. W.D. 2021) (quoting ADB Cos. v. Socket Telecom, LLC, 618 S.W.3d 237, 244 (Mo. App. W.D. 2021)). "[T]he trial court's judgment is presumed valid and the burden is on the appellant to demonstrate its incorrectness." Houston v. Crider, 317 S.W.3d 178, 186 (Mo. App. S.D. 2010) (quoting Bowles v. All Cntys. Inv. Corp., 46 S.W.3d 636, 638 (Mo. App. S.D. 2001)).


Rule 84.04(d)(1)[2] provides that,

[w]here the appellate court reviews the decision of a trial court, each point shall
(A) Identify the trial court ruling or action that the appellant challenges;
(B) State concisely the legal reasons for the appellant's claim of reversible error; and
(C) Explain in summary fashion why, in the context of the case, those legal reasons support the claim of reversible error.

(Emphasis added.) "Rule 84.04's requirements are mandatory." Lexow v. Boeing Co., SC99199, 2022 WL 791953, *2 (Mo. banc Mar. 15, 2022) (quoting Fowler v. Mo. Sheriffs' Ret. Sys., 623 S.W.3d 578, 583 (Mo. banc 2021)).


Because "[w]e can reverse [a] court-tried judgment only if no substantial evidence supports it, or it is against the weight of the evidence, or it erroneously declares or applies the law," Kim v. Mercy Clinic Springfield Cmtys., 556 S.W.3d 613, 617 (Mo. App. S.D. 2018) (quoting Hagan v. Hagan, 530 S.W.3d 608, 610 (Mo. App. S.D. 2017)) (emphasis in original), to comply with Rule 84.04(d)(1)(B), the appellant must specify one of these bases of error within the point relied on, itself. Id.; Ebert v. Ebert, 627 S.W.3d 571, 580 (Mo. App. E.D. 2021); Smith v. Great Am. Assur. Co., 436 S.W.3d 700, 703-04 (Mo. App. S.D. 2014). At best, a point relied on that fails to do so "preserves nothing for appellate review." In re Swearingen, 42 S.W.3d 741, 747 (Mo. App. W.D. 2001) (quoting Smith v. Indep. Tax Increment Fin. Comm'n, 919 S.W.2d 292, 294 (Mo. App. W.D. 1996)). And, in fact, "[a] party's failure to comply with the requirements set forth in Rule 84.04(d) constitutes grounds for our dismissal of the appeal." In re Estate of Tuckness, 403 S.W.3d 597, 598 (Mo. App. S.D. 2011).

Nevertheless, where a point has not been properly preserved, we have discretion to review it for plain error under Rule 84.13. In re Swearingen, 42 S.W.3d at 746. But "[p]lain error review is proper in civil cases only if we find that 'the error has affected the parties' rights so substantially that a miscarriage of justice or manifest injustice would occur if the error were left uncorrected.'" Id. (quoting Peterson v. Nat'l Carriers, Inc., 972 S.W.2d 349, 357 (Mo. App. W.D. 1998)).

Here, Husband's Point III is the only point relied on that raises one of the bases for reversing alleged error in a court-tried...

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