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Oral Argument from the Hawaii State Supreme Court–SCWC-15-0000048

No. SCWC-15-0000048, Thursday, February 2, 2017, 8:45 a.m.

PO, Respondent/Petitioner-Appellee, vs. JS, Petitioner/Respondent-Appellant.

The above-captioned case was set for argument on the merits at:

Supreme Court Courtroom
Ali`iolani Hale, 2nd Floor
417 South King Street
Honolulu, HI 96813

Attorneys for Petitioner:

Steven L. Hartley and Elsa F.M. McGehee

Attorney for Respondent:

Steven J. Kim

NOTE: Order accepting Application for Writ of Certiorari, filed 10/21/16.

COURT: MER, CJ; PAN, SSM, RWP, and MDW, JJ.

[ Listen to the entire audio recording in mp3 format ]

Brief Description:

This case arises from Petitioner’s submission of a request for modification of his monthly child support obligation to the Family Court of the First Circuit (family court). Petitioner argued before the family court that his then-present personal circumstances, including his loss of employment and recent expenses, warranted modification to his monthly child support payment. The family court found that Petitioner had failed to prove the existence of changed circumstances and denied his request for modification. Petitioner appealed the family court’s order to the Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA), arguing, in part, that the family court erred when it concluded that he failed to meet his burden of proof regarding the requested modification and that the court failed to properly utilize the Hawai`i Child Support Guidelines (Guidelines) in setting his monthly support obligation.

The ICA affirmed in part and vacated in part the family court’s order based on separate errors not raised on certiorari to this court and remanded the case to the family court for proceedings consistent with its opinion. In its opinion, the ICA determined that Petitioner was required to show a substantial and material change in circumstances to warrant modification of his child support obligation and that the family court did not abuse its discretion in finding that he had failed to do so. The ICA also determined that the existence of an extraordinary circumstance within the meaning of Hawai`i Revised Statutes
§ 571-52.5 may have excused the family court from utilizing the Guidelines to calculate Petitioner’s monthly child support obligation.

On certiorari, Petitioner raises two questions: (1) whether the ICA erred in affirming the family court’s determination that he failed to meet his burden with respect to his request for child support modification; and (2) whether the ICA erred in affirming the family court’s conclusion as to the monthly child support amount, effective from February 1, 2011.