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Donahue v. Getman

South Dakota Supreme Court
432 N.W.2d 281 (1988)


Facts

Virginia Getman Donahue (plaintiff) and Richard Getman (defendant) were divorced in 1982, and Richard was awarded physical custody of their three children. Both Virginia and Richard remarried, and Richard’s new spouse had children from a prior marriage. In 1986, the trial court awarded Virginia sole custody of the three children, but denied her request for child support, finding that Richard did not have the means or ability to make payments. Shortly thereafter, Virginia petitioned the trial court for child support under statutory guidelines, because Richard had monthly income in the amount of $1,405.33 from worker’s compensation and social security disability benefits. Richard had a severe degenerative condition of the spine that left him totally disabled, and his new wife could not work, because she was his full-time caretaker. Richard’s stepchildren also had medical conditions that would require surgery and result in significant medical bills. Although the child support guidelines called for Richard to pay between $539 and $578 per month based on his income, the trial court awarded Virginia only $120 per month, based on Richard’s disability, medical condition, and expenses, as well as the medical conditions and future expenses of his stepchildren. Virginia appealed and argued that the trial court abused its discretion by deviating from the guidelines without making specific findings on all of the factors required for deviation.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Miller, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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