Court vacates cut in Willie Gary’s child support

By Alyson M. Palmer

Appeals judges have vacated a reduction of Florida plaintiffs’ attorney Willie Gary’s $28,000 monthly child support burden.

Diana Gowins and Gary agreed on the $28,000 figure after she gave birth to Gary’s twins in 2000. But after Gary complained, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Cynthia D. Wright last year cut Gary’s monthly payments to Gowins, to $5,000 per month plus private school tuition.

The Court of Appeals opinion by Judge John H. Ruffin Jr. said that Gary needed to show a change in circumstances requiring a modification of the support figure—such as a change in the twins’ needs—not merely that it was excessive.

The court said Wright might consider a capital gain Gowins received on an investment and the possibility that Gowins realized a gain on equity in her home in deciding whether improvements in Gowins’ financial status warranted a modification.

Atlanta lawyer Randall M. Kessler, who represents Gowins, said he hopes that on remand Wright will agree with him that there’s been no change in circumstances justifying a reduction of the $28,000 monthly support. He said that given Gary’s high income, that amount is the equivalent of someone with a $100,000 annual salary paying $280 a month in support. “When you look at it that way,” said Kessler, “it doesn’t seem so unfair.”

Gary’s lawyer, Kenneth H. Schatten of Atlanta, said Gary was considering all options. Schatten said if Wright re-examines the modification request, “we’re confident that we could prove that not only is there any evidence but a plethora of evidence that will not change the trial court’s ultimate ruling.”

The case is Gowins v. Gary, No. A07A0979