An unpublished opinion of the North Carolina Court of Appeals does not constitute controlling legal authority. Citation is disfavored, but may be permitted in accordance with the provisions of Rule 30(e)(3) of the North Carolina Rules of Appellate Proced ure.

NO. COA04-1237


Filed: 5 July 2005


         v.                        Mecklenburg County
                                No. 04CVD7239

    Appeal by plaintiff from order entered 4 June 2004 by Judge Fritz Y. Mercer, Jr. in District Court, Mecklenburg County. Heard in the Court of Appeals 20 June 2005.

    Attorney General Roy Cooper, by Assistant Attorney General Lisa Bradley Dawson, for plaintiff-appellant.

    No brief filed for defendant-appellee.

    McGEE, Judge.

    Plaintiff and defendant were married on or about 21 April 1979 but later separated. Two children were born of their marriage. A complaint dated 30 March 2004 was filed seeking child support for the two minor children.
    The trial court entered an order deviating from the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines (the Guidelines). Although the trial court found that the recommended child support payment under the Guidelines was $606.00 per month and that such an amount was reasonable, the trial court ordered that defendant pay $477.00 in monthly child support. The trial court also ordered that defendantpay 74 percent of all uninsured medical expenses of the children that exceeded $250.00 annually. In support of the deviation, the trial court made the following finding of fact: "The Judge deviated from the Guideline[s] amount." The State's objection to the deviation is noted in the trial court's order. The State appeals on behalf of plaintiff mother.
    Plaintiff argues that the trial court erred in deviating from the Guidelines because no findings of fact support the deviation. We agree.
    The child support amounts recommended by the Guidelines are presumptively adequate to cover the reasonable needs of the child and are equitable to both parents based on their ability to pay. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50-13.4(c)(2003). A trial court may deviate from the Guidelines if it finds that the greater weight of the evidence shows that, based on the child's needs and each parent's ability to pay, the recommended amount is inadequate, excessive, or otherwise unjust or inappropriate. N.C. Child Support Guidelines, 2005 Ann. R. N.C. 47; N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50-13.4(c). To deviate from the Guidelines, the trial court must make written findings of fact stating: (1) the presumptive amount under the Guidelines; (2) the child's reasonable needs and the parents' ability to pay; (3) support for the conclusion that the presumptive amount is inadequate, excessive, unjust, or inappropriate; and (4) the basis on which the trial court ordered the determined amount. N.C. Child Support Guidelines, 2005 Ann. R. N.C. 47; Rowan County DSS v. Brooks, 135 N.C. App. 776, 778-79, 522 S.E.2d 590, 591-92 (1999).     When reviewing a trial court's deviation from the Guidelines, this Court applies an abuse of discretion standard. Brooks, 135 N.C. App at 778, 552 S.E.2d at 591. To facilitate this Court's review, the trial court must make sufficient written findings of fact. Leary v. Leary, 152 N.C. App. 438, 442, 567 S.E.2d 834, 837 (2002).
    In Sain v. Sain, the trial court failed to make any findings as to the child's reasonable needs or that the defendant's disability rendered the guideline-recommended amount inequitable. 134 N.C. App. 460, 466, 517 S.E.2d 921, 926 (1999). This Court remanded the case to the trial court for proper findings regarding the child's reasonable needs. Id.; see also Brooker v. Brooker, 133 N.C. App. 285, 291, 515 S.E.2d 234, 239 (1999) (remanding the case to the trial court because, even though the trial court made findings as to the reasonableness of some of the defendant's expenses, the trial court made no findings of fact regarding the child's reasonable needs or the parents' relative ability to support the child).
    In the case before us, the trial court's order includes the following pertinent findings:
        6.    The financial information shown on the worksheet attached hereto is adopted by the court as further finding of fact. Based thereon, the amount of support under the current Child [S]upport Guidelines is $606.00 monthly and that amount is reasonable. Said child support shall be effective [1 June 2004].

        . . . .

        8.    Additional Finding of Fact[]: The Judgedeviated from the Guideline amount.
The order contains no finding as to what factor made the guideline- recommended amount unjust or excessive. The finding that "[t]he Judge deviated from the Guideline amount[,]" is simply not sufficient to allow this Court to determine whether the trial court abused its discretion in deviating from the presumptive child support amount.
    We note that finding of fact number 6 conflicts with decretal paragraph number 3, resulting in the order being internally inconsistent. The trial court finds the amount of support under the Guidelines is "$606.00 monthly and that amount is reasonable. Said child support shall be effective 6-1-04." However, decretal paragraph 3 directs defendant to pay $477.00 per month effective 1 June 2004.
    The record does not include a transcript and we are unable to determine what evidence, if any, was heard by the trial court prior to its decision to deviate from the child support Guidelines. Upon remand, the trial court may in its discretion receive additional evidence before entering a new order.
    The trial court's order is vacated and this matter is remanded for further findings.
    Vacated and remanded.
    Judges HUDSON and LEVINSON concur.
    Report per Rule 30(e).

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