Penny wise…

Many people try to take the ‘cheap’ option in life, looking at the immediate effects, and fail to recognize the expensive long-term costs those decisions have.

This happens in litigation all the time, especially with trying to determine someone’s income for child support purposes. The party that would receive child support does not want to spend the money to confirm the paying party’s income using any number of tools (motions to compel, depositions, subpoenas to the employer of that person), and so run the risk of not being able to prove that big salary to the Court. Then the cost-conscious litigant gets child support based on the presumption of minimum-wage, forty-hour a week salary, because they cannot prove up any other income.

Take for example the case of Reagins v. Walker, 14-15-00764-CV (Tex.App. Dist. 03/07/2017). Here, Mother has the children and is asking for an increase in child support. Father does not want to participate, refuses to turn over financial income voluntarily, and actually does not appear at final trial. We do not know if he refused to comply with discovery requests, but that is likely. He is allegedly a petroleum engineer (his LinkedIn states ‘Field Service Engineer at GE Oil and Gas’). Seems easy – Father is not showing up, just have Mother testify, right? Not quite. Sure, at the trial court level she won, but then Father appealed.

The Court of Appeals stated her testimony, as provided, was ‘mere speculation’ and not ‘evidence.’ Scouting around on the internet and seeing what a professional with his qualifications made did not cut it. The case was sent back to the trial court to try the issue again.

Talk about being “penny wise and pound foolish.” Now Mother has incurred the cost of a trial once, the cost of an appeal, and then will have to negotiate or go to trial a second time. Being cheap up front did not work.

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