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Jones v. Pack

Court of Appeals of Oklahoma, Division IV

December 4, 2017

LACEE DAWN JONES, Petitioner/Appellee,
v.
JODY ROBERT PACK, Respondent/Appellant.

          Mandate Issued: 01/03/2018

         APPEAL FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF DELAWARE COUNTY, OKLAHOMA HONORABLE BARRY V. DENNEY, TRIAL JUDGE REVERSED

          Bobby C. Ramsey, DAVIS & THOMPSON, PLLC, Jay, Oklahoma, for Petitioner/Appellee

          Winston H. Connor, II, Joshua W. Brewer, STOCKWELL & CONNOR, P.L.L.C., Jay, Oklahoma, for Respondent/Appellant

          JANE P. WISEMAN, JUDGE

         ¶1 We address Jody Robert Pack's appeal of a trial court order awarding attorney fees to Lacee Dawn Jones to determine whether the trial court erred in making the award. After review, we conclude the trial court erred in making the award and reverse its order.

         BACKGROUND

         ¶2 Department of Human Services, Child Support Services (CSS), filed a "Petition/Notice of Paternity and Support Obligations" on June 14, 2010, alleging Jody Robert Pack is the father of JCA, born in August 2007. An agreed order was filed on October 1, 2010, finding he is the father of JCA based on genetic testing, setting monthly child support in the amount of $222.50, and ordering Father to pay $5, 348 for reimbursement of child support expenses prior to the entry of the order. There was no provision for visitation in the agreed order.

         ¶3 On January 3, 2014, a "Notice to Review and Modify Support Order" was filed by CSS due to "[a] change in income of one or both parties." An order modifying Father's child support obligation was filed on April 1, 2014, to increase Father's monthly child support obligation to $311.11. Again, no provision was made for visitation.

         ¶4 On May 5, 2016, Father filed a "Petition to Establish Visitation and Application for Temporary Order." Father alleged Mother Lacee Dawn Jones had custody of JCA pursuant to the Oklahoma Uniform Parentage Act "until determined otherwise by the Court." Father further alleged Oklahoma has jurisdiction to hear the petition because it is the home state of JCA pursuant to the Oklahoma Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, and the federal Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act. Father stated that to his "best knowledge and information, " JCA has lived with Mother and/or Father for the past five years in Delaware County, Oklahoma.

         ¶5 Mother filed a "Special Appearance to Object to Jurisdiction" and "Motion to Dismiss or Transfer" in which she stated that she and JCA have lived in Rogers, Benton County, Arkansas, for approximately a year and a half, and in Springdale, Washington County, Arkansas, for two and a half years. She alleged, "The only contact the minor child has with the State of Oklahoma is through child support enforcement and [Father] lives in Delaware County, Oklahoma." Mother asked the trial court to dismiss Father's petition for lack of jurisdiction.

         ¶6 The trial court held a jurisdictional hearing on June 7, 2016, and granted Mother's request to dismiss due to lack of jurisdiction.

         ¶7 On June 27, 2016, Mother filed an application for attorney fees and costs, seeking $2, 175 in attorney fees and $20 in costs. Mother included attorney time records in support of her application.

         ¶8 At the hearing on Mother's motion, she testified she makes $20 an hour and works thirty-three to thirty-five hours a week. Father's attorney told the court he was not contesting Mother's counsel's hourly rate of $250 or the hours he billed. Mother testified she is currently pregnant, she has paid in full the bill she received from her attorney, and she would like the court to award her attorney fees for the time spent on the motion to modify. Mother testified she has $4, 000 in a joint savings account with her husband and $400 or $500 in a checking account. Mother stated that she and her husband can pay their monthly bills because they live within their means.

         ¶9 Father testified he was unemployed and had been unemployed for two and a half months due to a layoff for lack of work. He testified that he has been looking for work and that he does not have $4, 000 or $5, 000 in a checking or savings account. He testified that he has no other money than what ...


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