Richardson v. Boozer, 0774

CourtCourt of Special Appeals of Maryland
Writing for the CourtHOTTEN
Citation209 Md.App. 1,57 A.3d 1028
PartiesDonald L. RICHARDSON v. Jacquelyn L. BOOZER.
Docket NumberNo. 0774,Sept. Term, 2011.,0774
Decision Date20 December 2012

209 Md.App. 1
57 A.3d 1028

Donald L. RICHARDSON
v.
Jacquelyn L. BOOZER.

No. 0774, Sept. Term, 2011.

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland.

Dec. 20, 2012.


[57 A.3d 1030]


Ayo M. Stevens, Upper Marlboro, MD, for Appellant.

Jane Moretz Edmisten, Washington, D.C., for Appellee.


Panel: KEHOE, HOTTEN, RAYMOND G. THIEME, JR. (Retired, Specially Assigned), JJ.

HOTTEN, J.

[209 Md.App. 4]On August 16, 2010, appellant, Donald Richardson, filed a pro se motion to modify child support in the Circuit Court for Prince George's County, seeking to compel appellee, Jacquelyn Boozer, to pay child support commencing in December [209 Md.App. 5]2009 and to reimburse appellant for overpayment of child support. The court granted appellant's motion, but ordered that he pay

[57 A.3d 1031]

appellee an outstanding child support balance of $7,101. Appellant filed for reconsideration of that order, alleging that (1) his child support obligation was legally terminated when the child failed to graduate from high school and that (2) the court erred in calculating his total child support obligations under the post-October 1, 2010 child support guidelines. The court denied appellant's motion, finding that appellant's obligation extended beyond the date of termination and that his contentions regarding the court's calculations, were unfounded. Appellant noted an appeal, and presents four questions for our consideration:

1. Did the trial court err in determining that appellant had an obligation to pay child support until the minor child of the parties reached the age of nineteen years old?

2. Did the trial court err in failing to properly assess the termination date of the parties' obligation to pay child support and thereby improperly calculate the number of months of support owed by the appellant?

3. Did the trial court err in not utilizing the pre-October 1, 2010 child support guidelines in calculating appellant's child support obligation?

4. Did the trial court abuse its discretion by refusing to address appellant's claim of overpayment of child support?

For the reasons that follow, we affirm the judgment of the circuit court.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

The procedural history of the parties' efforts to obtain a divorce is extensive, so we will present a brief overview for purposes of the instant appeal. The parties married on November 26, 1988, and are the parents of their then-minor child, Christian Taylor Richardson (“Christian”), whom they adopted as an infant shortly after his birth on February 7, 1992. The parties mutually and voluntarily separated on July [209 Md.App. 6]14, 2001, and the trial court granted a judgment of absolute divorce on May 9, 2005.

On December 20, 2007, appellant noted his first appeal, in which we affirmed the trial court's ruling.1 Relevant to our review, however, is the court's judgment of absolute divorce. As part of the dissolution, the court awarded appellee sole legal and primary physical custody of Christian. Appellee was responsible for maintaining health insurance coverage for Christian, and appellant was ordered to pay appellee $1,456 per month for child support commencing from May 1, 2003.

On July 15, 2009, the parties reached an agreement regarding child support, and on August 15, 2009, the court ordered that appellant pay child support to appellee in the amount of $1,062 on the first day of each and every month until the later of (1) Christian attaining the age of eighteen years or (2) Christian's graduation from high school.

On November 24, 2009, appellee informed Christian that he could no longer reside with her, since he ignored her instructions. Christian began residing with appellant on November 29, 2009. Appellant ceased his child support payments, and filed a motion on December 9, 2009,

[57 A.3d 1032]

requesting that the court (1) order appellee to pay child support in the amount of $895 per month until Christian attained the age of eighteen or graduated from high school; (2) order appellee to pay by check the amount of $3,369 for overpayment of child support; and (3) order appellee to file a statement of satisfaction of monetary judgment, reflecting appellant's payment of $43,975.75 with accrued interest.

On April 11, 2010, Christian returned to his mother's home. He was expected to graduate from Sidwell Friends School [209 Md.App. 7](“Sidwell”), a private educational institution, on June 12, 2010. However, he failed to meet the graduation requirements and earn his high school diploma. As a result, on August 16, 2010, appellant renewed the abovementioned motion regarding child support. Appellee alleged that Sidwell's administration permitted Christian to register for substitute courses at Prince George's Community College to obtain his diploma from Sidwell. Christian enrolled for the summer and fall 2010 semesters, but failed the necessary courses.2

During the motion's hearing on January 31, 2011, the court stated, “... [U]nder Maryland law, child support extends to age 19 or high school graduation, whichever comes first. So as long as he is working towards his high school graduation, then child support continues to age 19.” Because Christian would attain the age of nineteen on February 7, 2011, the court determined that appellant's support would be terminated seven days from the hearing. The court granted appellant's motion, finding that there was a material change in circumstances, but ordered that appellant pay appellee an outstanding child support balance of $7,101. The court used the post-October 1, 2010 child support guidelines, and computed appellant's obligation, less the five months that Christian resided with appellant and unreimbursed medical expenses of $419, resulting in a total of $7,101.

On February 10, 2011, appellant filed a motion for reconsideration, arguing that the court erred in (1) determining that his child support obligation was not legally terminated when Christian failed to graduate high school and (2) calculating his total child support obligations under the post-October 1, 2010 guidelines. The court denied appellant's motion, finding that [209 Md.App. 8]appellant's obligation to pay the child support arrearages extended beyond the date of termination for ongoing child support. The court concluded that there was no merit to appellant's assertion that his child support obligation was calculated under the wrong criteria, since the court's calculations were effective until September 30, 2010. Thereafter, appellant filed a timely appeal.

DISCUSSION
I. Whether the Trial Court Erred in Determining That Appellant Had a Child Support Obligation Until Christian Reached Nineteen Years Old?

The circumstances under which child support may be terminated once a child attains the age of eighteen are governed by Md.Code (1957, 2011 Repl.Vol.),

[57 A.3d 1033]

Article 1, § 24(a)(2) of the Rules of Interpretation, which provides in pertinent part:

A person who has attained the age of 18 years and who is enrolled in secondary school has the right to receive support and maintenance from both of the person's parents until the first to occur of the following events:

(i) The person dies;

(ii) The person marries;

(iii) The person is emancipated;

(iv) The person graduates from or is no longer enrolled in secondary school; or

(v) The person attains the age of 19 years.

The issue is whether Christian fell within the purview of Md.Code (1957, 2011 Repl.Vol.), Article 1, § 24(a)(2)(iv) of the Rules of Interpretation. It is undisputed that Christian did not graduate from Sidwell in June 2010, but was enrolled at Prince George's Community College in an effort to substitute the necessary courses required by his high school to secure his diploma. In appellant's motion for reconsideration, he acknowledged that “... [Christian] did enroll at the Prince George's Community College for [s]ummer and [f]all 2010 classes as a special student” and was enrolled in January 2011. [209 Md.App. 9]Furthermore, appellant did not object during the hearing when appellee asserted that Christian was registered at the community college for the purpose of attaining his high school diploma.

Appellant asserts that his obligation to pay child support ended in June 2010 because Christian failed to attain his high school's graduation requirements, and was not enrolled at the high school or other secondary school. Appellee avows that Christian's pursuit of his high school diploma at Prince George's Community College was the legal equivalent of enrollment in a secondary school. She also avers that Md.Code (1957, 2011 Repl.Vol., 2012 Cum.Supp.), Article 1, § 24(a)(2) of the Rules of Interpretation would not suggest a narrow reading of the statutorily undefined phrase “enrolled in a secondary school.” We agree and explain.

A question regarding statutory interpretation is a legal question, which we review de novo. Harvey v. Marshall, 389 Md. 243, 257, 884 A.2d 1171 (2005) (citing Mohan v. Norris, 386 Md. 63, 66–67, 871 A.2d 575 (2005)); see also Davis v. Slater, 383 Md. 599, 604, 861 A.2d 78 (2004) (Maryland appellate courts review issues de novo to decide if the trial court was legally correct in its interpretations of the Maryland Code.).

The statute provides that a child, who has reached age eighteen, and is enrolled in secondary school, has the right to receive support and maintenance until the child (1) graduates from or is no longer enrolled in secondary school, (2) reaches the age of 19, (3) is emancipated, or (4) marries. Md.Code (1957, 2011 Repl.Vol., 2012 Cum.Supp.), Article 1, § 24(a)(2) of the Rules of Interpretation. The term “secondary school” is not defined in the statute. However, the lack of an expressed definition does not prevent us from analyzing the legislative intent. Schreyer v. Chaplain, 416 Md. 94, 101, 5 A.3d 1054 (2010). To construe the intent, we start by observing the plain meaning of the statutory terminology. Bornemann v. Bornemann, 175 Md.App. 716, 724, 931 A.2d 1154 (2007) (citing [209...

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11 practice notes
  • Franklin Credit Mgmt. Corp. v. Nefflen, 32
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • December 20, 2013
    ...once a default judgment was entered, the Court of Special Appeals reasoned the trial court properly denied the motion. Id. at 733–34, 57 A.3d at 1028. Franklin, then, petitioned this Court for certiorari, which we granted, to consider the following questions, which we have renumbered: 1. Do......
  • Franklin Credit Mgmt. Corp. v. Nefflen, 989
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • December 20, 2012
    ...Md. at 427, 653 A.2d 934 (the court's revisory power is limited once a default judgment is entered “ ‘to avoid giving the defendant in [57 A.3d 1028]default two opportunities to set [the judgment of liability] aside.’ ”) (quoting P. Niemeyer & L. Schuett, Maryland Rules Commentary 473 (2d e......
  • Franklin Credit Mgmt. Corp. v. Nefflen, 32
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • December 20, 2013
    ...once a default judgment was entered, the Court of Special Appeals reasoned the trial court properly denied the motion. Id. at 733-34, 57 A.3d at 1028. Franklin, then, petitioned this Court for certiorari, which we granted, to consider the following questions, which we have renumbered:1. Doe......
  • Amha, LLC v. Howard Cnty. Bd. of Appeals, 2176
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • December 3, 2015
    ...in the prior proceedings, we are vested with discretion to consider some issues that are otherwise unpreserved. Richardson v. Boozer, 209 Md. App. 1, 22 (2012) ("Appellate review of issues not previously raised is discretionary."); Md. Rule 8-131(a) ("Ordinarily, the appellate court will no......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
9 cases
  • Franklin Credit Mgmt. Corp. v. Nefflen, No. 32
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • December 20, 2013
    ...once a default judgment was entered, the Court of Special Appeals reasoned the trial court properly denied the motion. Id. at 733–34, 57 A.3d at 1028. Franklin, then, petitioned this Court for certiorari, which we granted, to consider the following questions, which we have renumbered: 1. Do......
  • Franklin Credit Mgmt. Corp. v. Nefflen, No. 989
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • December 20, 2012
    ...Md. at 427, 653 A.2d 934 (the court's revisory power is limited once a default judgment is entered “ ‘to avoid giving the defendant in [57 A.3d 1028]default two opportunities to set [the judgment of liability] aside.’ ”) (quoting P. Niemeyer & L. Schuett, Maryland Rules Commentary 473 (2d e......
  • Amha, LLC v. Howard Cnty. Bd. of Appeals, No. 2176
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • December 3, 2015
    ...in the prior proceedings, we are vested with discretion to consider some issues that are otherwise unpreserved. Richardson v. Boozer, 209 Md. App. 1, 22 (2012) ("Appellate review of issues not previously raised is discretionary."); Md. Rule 8-131(a) ("Ordinarily, the appellate court will no......
  • Franklin Credit Mgmt. Corp. v. Nefflen, No. 32
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • December 20, 2013
    ...once a default judgment was entered, the Court of Special Appeals reasoned the trial court properly denied the motion. Id. at 733-34, 57 A.3d at 1028. Franklin, then, petitioned this Court for certiorari, which we granted, to consider the following questions, which we have renumbered:1. Doe......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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