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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Rita Christine Smith appeals from the trial court’s order reducing the child support obligations of Ricky Lynn Smith. Rita and Ricky were divorced on April 30, 2003, in Cause No. CV 26321 in Erath County. In the final decree of divorce, the court appointed Rita and Ricky joint managing conservators of their four-year-old daughter, S.C.S. The court ordered Ricky to pay Rita child support of $640 per month. Following the divorce, a number of disputes and controversies arose between Rita and Ricky. Rita and Ricky filed numerous motions and counter-motions against each other in Cause No. CV 26321. Rita moved from Erath County to Gaines County. On Sept. 11, 2003, Rita filed an application for a family violence protective order in Gaines County based on allegations that Ricky had committed acts of violence against her. After a hearing, the court entered a family violence protective order against Ricky. This court affirmed the order on March 17, 2005. On March 1, 2004, after obtaining the family violence protective order in Gaines County, Rita filed a Petition to Modify Parent-Child Relationship in Cause No. CV 26321 in Erath County. Rita requested that the court deny Ricky access to S.C.S. based on Ricky’s history of family violence. On March 29, 2004, Ricky filed two pleadings in Cause No. CV 26321: 1. Respondent’s Original Answer and Counterclaim for Frivolous Suit; and 2. Petition to Modify Parent-Child Relationship. In the original answer and counterclaim, Ricky alleged that Rita’s petition to modify was frivolous and that Rita had filed it for the purpose of harassing him. In his petition to modify, Ricky sought a modification of possession of and access to S.C.S. and a reduction of his child support. On April 13, 2004, the court in Erath County transferred Cause No. CV 26321 to Gaines County. On June 28, 2004, Rita filed her Amended Petition to Modify Parent-Child Relationship. In response, on July 21, 2004, Ricky filed Respondent’s First Amended Answer to Petitioner’s First Amended Petition to Modify Parent-Child Relationship and Counterclaim for Frivolous Suit. On Aug. 26, 2004, the trial court held a hearing on pending matters. At the hearing, Rita contended that Ricky’s first amended answer and counterclaim (filed on July 21, 2004) superceded his petition to modify (filed on March 29, 2004). Because the first amended answer and counterclaim did not include a claim for reduced child support, Rita argued that the claim for reduced child support had been dismissed. The trial court disagreed with Rita and considered the child support issue at the hearing. Ricky was the only witness who testified at the hearing. He testified that his income had been substantially reduced since the date of his divorce from Rita. The trial court determined that Ricky’s travel expenses associated with exercising his periods of possession of S.C.S. had increased because of Rita’s move to Gaines County. On Feb. 16, 2005, the trial court entered its order in the suit to modify parent-child relationship. Because of the increased expenses associated with periods of possession by Ricky, the trial court reduced Ricky’s child support obligation from $640 a month to $550 a month. Rita appeals from this order. HOLDING:Affirmed. Ricky filed Respondent’s First Amended Answer to Petitioner’s First Amended Petition to Modify Parent-Child Relationship and Counterclaim for Frivolous Suit. Thus, Ricky’s first amended answer and counterclaim expressly referred to Rita’s first amended petition to modify. Ricky did not refer to his petition to modify in his first amended answer and counterclaim. It is apparent that the first amended answer and counterclaim was intended as a substitute only for Ricky’s original answer and counterclaim and that it did not alter or supersede Ricky’s petition to modify. Ricky’s petition to modify remained as a live pleading at the time of Aug. 26, 2004, modification hearing in the trial court. Ricky’s petition to modify provided Rita fair notice of a reduced income claim. Ricky pleaded that the child support payments ordered in the final decree of divorce were no longer in substantial compliance with the guidelines set forth in Chapter 154. Construing the petition to modify liberally in favor of Ricky, the allegations were sufficient to put Rita on notice of issues relating to the application of the child support guidelines in Chapter 154, including a reduced income claim. The trial court did not err in admitting evidence of Ricky’s reduced income. even if the admission of the evidence of Ricky’s reduced income had constituted error, the record does not demonstrate that Rita was harmed by the evidence. The trial court properly considered Ricky’s increased travel costs – two round trips from Stephenville to Sweetwater each month during the school year – associated with exercising possession of and access to S.C.S. Rita asserts that the trial court erred in reducing Ricky’s child support based on increased travel costs because she moved to Seminole to get away from Ricky’s violence. However, nothing in Texas Family Code �154.123 prohibits a trial court from considering increased costs in such cases, the court states. Viewing the evidence in its entirety, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in reducing Ricky’s monthly child support obligation from $640 to $550. At the modification hearing, Ricky testified that his gross income had decreased by about $18,000 a year since the date of the divorce decree. He attributed his loss of income to “all the legal issues [he'd] had to deal with, all the interviews at all the lawyers’ offices.” While Ricky requested the trial court to decrease his child support based on reduced income, the trial court did not reduce the child support on this basis. Rather, the trial court decreased the child support based on increased travel costs associated with Ricky’s possession of S.C.S. Therefore, the issue of whether or not Ricky was voluntarily underemployed had no relevance on the trial court’s reduction of Ricky’s child support. OPINION:Terry McCall, J.; Wright, C.J., McCall and Strange, J.J.

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