This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).







In Re the Marriage of: Paul James Hoheisel,






Terri Lynn Hoheisel n/k/a Little,




Filed August 7, 2001

Reversed and remanded

G. Barry Anderson, Judge


Sherburne County District Court

File No. F99457



Gerald S. Paulson, Smith, Paulson, O’Donnell & Associates, P.L.C., 207 South Walnut Street, P.O. Box 668, Monticello, MN  55362 (for appellant)


Terri Lynn Hoheisel, n/k/a Little, 13745 268th Avenue, Zimmerman, MN  55398 (pro se respondent)


            Considered and decided by G. Barry Anderson, Presiding Judge, R.A. Randall, Judge and Robert Schumacher, Judge.


U N P U B L I S H E D  O P I N I O N


            The child support magistrate concluded that there had been a substantial change in circumstances rendering the existing child support order unreasonable and unfair, and reduced appellant’s child-support obligation to zero.  On review, the district court reinstated the original support obligation.  Appellant now argues that the district court abused its discretion by modifying the magistrate’s order without making the required findings.  We agree, reverse, and remand.


Respondent Terry Little and appellant Paul Hoheisel were married on April 21, 1990, and dissolved their marriage approximately five years later.  The parties have one minor child.  The district court granted custody of the child to respondent, and ordered appellant to pay child support.

Appellant filed a motion to modify his child support obligation claiming that a work-related injury left him disabled.  A child support magistrate conducted a hearing and thereafter granted appellant’s motion for modification.  The magistrate found that appellant suffered an on-the-job injury, was unemployed, had exhausted all workers-compensation benefits, and had been denied social security benefits.  As a result, the magistrate concluded that there had been a substantial change in circumstances that rendered the existing child support obligation unreasonable and unfair.  The magistrate’s order reduced appellant’s child support obligation to zero.

            Respondent sought district court review of the magistrate’s decision, contending the magistrate erred by concluding that there had been a substantial change in circumstances because (1) there was no evidence that appellant’s workers-compensation benefits had been fully depleted; (2) the social security disability benefits were denied based on a finding that appellant was able to work; and (3) the findings addressed issues not raised at the hearing.  The district court granted respondent’s motion for review and held:

The [magistrate’s] order entered 8/20/00 did not include a finding that [appellant] is unable to work.  [Appellant] is ordered to resume paying child support in the amount due prior to said order.


            Appellant challenges this order on appeal.


            Modification of child support is within the district court’s discretion and will not be reversed absent an abuse of discretion.  Kuronen v. Kuronen, 499 N.W.2d 51, 53 (Minn. App. 1993), review denied (Minn. June 22, 1993).  This court will reverse the district court’s decision for abuse of that discretion only when the district court’s resolution of the issue is against logic and the facts on the record.  Id.

When a district court reviews a child support magistrate’s order for child support under Minn. R. Gen. Pract. 372.05, subd. 2, the district court owes no deference to the child support magistrate and reviews the order de novo. Blonigen v. Blonigen, 621 N.W.2d 276, 280 (Minn. App. 2001), review denied, (Minn. March 13, 2001).  In addition, the district court may modify the magistrate’s order without reviewing a transcript of the hearing before the child support magistrate if no transcript of the hearing is submitted to the district court pursuant to Minn. Rule Gen. Pract. 372.05, subd. 5.  Id. at 282.   

            Appellant argues that the district court abused its discretion by modifying the magistrate’s order without making specific findings as to the modification.  As support, appellant cites Minn. R. Gen. Pract. 372.05, subd. 2, which states:

If any findings or other provisions of the child support magistrate’s decision and order are modified, the child support magistrate or district court judge need only make specific findings or conclusions with respect to the provisions that are modified. 


Id.   Because the district court reinstated appellant’s child support obligation, it modified the magistrate’s order and was required to make specific findings on this modification of the magistrate’s decision. 

The district court did not make the necessary findings.  Instead, as grounds for reinstating appellant’s child support obligation, the district court stated only that the previous magistrate’s order did not “include a finding that [appellant] is unable to work.” 

Moreover, by reinstating appellant’s child support obligation, the district court either imputed income to appellant or deviated from the child support guidelines; it was undisputed that appellant was unemployed at the time his motion was filed, and the magistrate found that appellant did not have income from which to pay child support.  In addition to the requirements of Minn. R. Gen. Pract. 372.05, subd. 2, a district court must make specific findings when deviating from the child-support guidelines or when imputing income to a party.  See Minn. Stat. § 518.551, subd. 5(i) (2000) (stating that when a district court deviates from the child support guidelines, it must provide written findings (1) stating the amount required by the guidelines before any deviation, (2) specifying the reason for the deviation and (3) demonstrating how any deviation specifically addresses the factors listed in Minn. Stat. § 518.551, subd. 5(c) (2000) and serves the best interests of the child); see also Minn. Stat. § 518.64, subd. 2(c)(1) (2000) (requiring Minn. Stat. § 518.551 to be applied in support modification proceedings);  Minn. Stat. § 518.551, subd. 5b(d) (2000) (addressing imputation of income to support obligor); Gorz v. Gorz, 552 N.W.2d 566, 569 (Minn. App. 1996) (stating that the district court may impute a party’s earning capacity as income for determining child support if the court finds that the party is voluntarily underemployed). 

Because we conclude that the district court abused its discretion when reinstating appellant’s child-support obligation without making the required findings, we reverse and remand.  

Reversed and remanded.