in the Court of Appeals 30 January 2019.
by defendant from order entered 5 February 2018 by Judge
Meredith A. Shuford in Lincoln County No. 17 CVD 808 District
Pack, Brown & Dow, P.A., by Carol Walsburger Dow, for
Jonas Law Firm, P.L.L.C., by Rebecca J. Yoder, for
John Wise ("defendant") appeals from child support
and alimony order in favor of his ex-wife, LeAnne Michelle
Wise ("plaintiff"). For the following reasons, we
reverse and remand to the trial court.
and defendant were married on 19 September 2009 and had two
children during their marriage in November 2010 and September
2015. The parties separated on 6 June 2017. On 12 July 2017,
plaintiff filed a complaint seeking child custody, child
support, equitable distribution, divorce from bed and board,
and post-separation support and alimony. Both plaintiff and
defendant filed financial affidavits subsequent to the filing
of the complaint. On 7 September 2017, defendant filed an
answer, defenses, and counterclaims seeking child custody and
benefit of their children, the parties entered into a
parenting agreement, which was signed by defendant on 7
September 2017 and by plaintiff on 18 September 2017. The
parties then entered into a consent order that was filed 18
October 2017. The consent order resolved child custody in
accordance with the terms of the parenting agreement and
required defendant to pay temporary child support in the
amount of $1, 376.07 per month and post-separation support in
the amount of $300.00 per month. The consent order also
appointed a mediator to address issues of alimony, permanent
child support, and equitable distribution. During a mediation
on 1 November 2017, the parties came to an agreement on
equitable distribution and a mediated settlement agreement
was filed on 2 November 2017. The parties were unable to
reach an agreement on alimony and permanent child support.
December 2017 and early January 2018, the parties filed
amended financial affidavits. On 10 January 2018,
plaintiff's attorney filed an affidavit of attorney fees
and court costs.
issues of alimony and child support were heard by Judge
Meredith A. Shuford in Lincoln County District Court on 10
and 11 February 2018. The trial court took the matter under
advisement, and later filed an order on 5 February 2018. The
trial court ordered defendant to pay child support in the
amount of $1, 551.24 per month and ordered defendant to pay
alimony until 1 September 2021 in the amount of $1, 850.00
per month. Defendant filed notice of appeal from the order on
28 February 2018.
appeal, defendant challenges the trial court's award of
alimony, child support, and attorney's fees. We address
the issues in the order they are raised.
Alimony and Child Support
amount of alimony is determined by the trial judge in the
exercise of his sound discretion and is not reviewable on
appeal in the absence of an abuse of discretion."
Quick v. Quick, 305 N.C. 446, 453, 290 S.E.2d 653,
658 (1982) (citing Sayland v. Sayland, 267 N.C. 378,
148 S.E.2d 218 (1966)).
In determining the amount of alimony the trial judge must
follow the requirements of the applicable statutes.
Consideration must be given to the needs of the dependent
spouse, but the estates and earnings of both spouses must be
considered. "It is a question of fairness and justice to
Id. (quoting Beall v. Beall, 290 N.C. 669,
674, 228 S.E.2d 407, 410 (1976)).
A trial court's award of alimony is addressed in N.C.
Gen. Stat. § 50-16.3A . . ., which provides in pertinent
part that in "determining the amount, duration, and
manner of payment of alimony, the court shall consider all
relevant factors" including, inter alia, the
following: marital misconduct of either spouse; the relative
earnings and earning capacities of the spouses; the ages of
the spouses; the amount and sources of earned and unearned
income of both spouses; the duration of the marriage; the
extent to which the earning power, expenses, or financial
obligations of a spouse are affected by the spouse's
serving as custodian of a minor child; the standard of living
of the spouses during the marriage; the assets, liabilities,
and debt service requirements of the spouses, including legal
obligations of support; and the relative needs of the
Hartsell v. Hartsell, 189 N.C.App. 65, 69, 657
S.E.2d 724, 727 (2008) (quoting N.C. Gen. Stat. §
support is governed by N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50-13.4. This
Court has explained that "[t]he ultimate objective in
setting awards for child support is to secure support
commensurate with the needs of the children and the ability
of the [obligor] to meet the needs." Smith v.
Smith, 247 N.C.App. 135, 150, 786 S.E.2d 12, 25 (2016)
(quotation marks and citations omitted). Like the
determination of the amount of alimony, "[c]hild support
orders entered by a trial court are accorded substantial
deference by appellate courts and our review is limited to a
determination of whether there was a clear abuse of
discretion." Leary v. Leary, 152 N.C.App. 438,
441, 567 S.E.2d 834, 837 (2002).
trial court may be reversed for abuse of discretion only upon
a showing that its actions are manifestly unsupported by
reason . . . [or] upon a showing that [the trial court's
decision] was so arbitrary that it could not have been the
result of a reasoned decision." White v. White,
312 N.C. 770, 777, 324 S.E.2d 829, 833 (1985).
for both alimony and child support, the trial court is
required to make findings of fact and conclusions of law.
See N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50-16.3A; N.C. Gen. Stat.
§ 50-13.4 (2017). To support the trial court's award
of alimony and child support, the trial court's findings
must be sufficiently specific to allow the reviewing court to
determine if they are supported by competent evidence and
support the trial court's award. See Rhew v.
Rhew, 138 N.C.App. 467, 470, 531 S.E.2d 471, 473 (2000)
("The trial court must at least make findings
sufficiently specific to indicate that the trial judge
properly considered each of the factors . . . for a
determination of an alimony award. In the absence of such
findings, appellate courts cannot appropriately determine
whether the order of the trial court is adequately supported
by competent evidence, and therefore such an order must be
vacated and the case remanded for necessary findings.")
(quotation marks and citations omitted); Plott v.
Plott, 313 N.C. 63, 68-69, 326 S.E.2d 863, 867 (1985)
(Explaining that for an award of child support pursuant to
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50-13.4, specific findings are
necessary to allow an appellate court to determine if the
trial court's order is sufficiently supported by
and Net Income Calculations
makes various arguments that the trial court erred in
awarding child support and alimony because it erred in