This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).






Becker County Human Resources,




Angela Marie Greene, petitioner,





Lance Michael Davis,



Filed August 5, 2003

Klaphake, Judge


Becker County District Court

File No. F89545



James W. Donehower, Assistant Becker County Attorney, P.O. Box 476, Detroit Lakes, MN  56502-0476 (for respondent Becker County)


Angela Marie Greene, n/k/a Larson, 1015 5th Avenue North, Apartment 3, Moorhead, MN  56560-2049 (attorney pro se)


Timothy H. Dodd, 611 Summit Avenue, Suite 110, Detroit Lakes, MN  56501 (for appellant)


            Considered and decided by Klaphake, Presiding Judge, Shumaker, Judge, and Halbrooks, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


            Appellant Lance Michael Davis challenges an order issued by a child support magistrate (CSM) increasing his child support obligation from $198 to $293 per month.  The CSM imputed income to appellant based on 150% of the federal minimum wage, but deducted the actual taxes appellant paid on reported income.

            Because the CSM erred by using the actual taxes paid by appellant, rather than the tax on the imputed income based on the standard tax tables, and because use of the standard tax tables results in an obligation that does not meet the $50 threshold required to presume a change in circumstances sufficient to modify child support, we reverse.


            On appeal from an order issued by a CSM, we apply the same standards of review that we apply to orders issued by a district court judge.  Brazinsky v. Brazinsky, 610 N.W.2d 707, 710 (Minn. App. 2000).  The district court, and a CSM, “enjoy[] broad discretion in ordering modifications to child support orders.”  Gully v. Gully, 599 N.W.2d 814, 820 (Minn. 1999) (citation omitted).  We will reverse only if the court or CSM made “‘a clearly erroneous conclusion that is against the logic and the facts on [the] record.’”  Id. (quoting Rutten v. Rutten, 347 N.W.2d 47, 50 (Minn. 1984)).

            The CSM calculated appellant’s monthly income under the following provision:

If there is insufficient information to determine actual income or to impute income pursuant to paragraph (d), the court may calculate support based on full-time employment of 40 hours per week at 150 percent of the federal minimum wage or the Minnesota minimum wage, whichever is higher.


Minn. Stat. § 518.551, subd. 5b(e) (2002).  The CSM estimated appellant’s income under this default standard, after rejecting appellant’s tax returns as not an accurate indication of his income and finding that there was not enough other information to impute income to appellant.  This estimation was an acceptable method of calculating income because there was insufficient information to determine “actual income or to impute income.”  Id. 

            Using the default standard, the CSM calculated appellant’s net monthly income at $1,172, “after deducting $14 for actual taxes, $32 for MinnesotaCare and $121 for a prior support obligation,” the actual deductions based on appellant’s reported income.  This resulted in a support obligation of $293.  Use of the standard tax tables, however, results in net income of $929 and a child support obligation of $214.  Because the CSM estimated appellant’s income at 150% of the federal minimum wage, we conclude that the CSM also should have calculated appellant’s estimated net income by using the standard tax tables.  The CSM therefore erred in calculating appellant’s net income. 

            The child support guidelines require a court to calculate an obligor’s net income by taking into consideration certain deductions.  Minn. Stat. § 518.551, subd. 5(b) (2002).  The statute provides that standard deductions apply and recommend use of the tax tables.  Id.  Thus, when a court imputes an obligor’s gross income or when it estimates income under the default standard, it must calculate the obligor’s net income by deducting tax consequences that are also imputed or estimated. 

            When standard deductions are considered, the resulting child support obligation of $214 fails to meet the $50 threshold required to presume a change of circumstances under Minn. Stat. § 518.64, subd. 2(b)(1) (2002).  Absent other evidence sufficient to show a substantial change of circumstances, we decline to make such a finding.  We therefore reverse the order modifying appellant’s child support obligation.  The previous order thus remains in effect.

            Appellant challenges other aspects of the order, including the CSM’s characterization of appellant as voluntarily underemployed, despite the fact that his current household receives public assistance in the form of MinnesotaCare and despite the fact that appellant runs a sign painting business full time.  Appellant also challenged the CSM’s disallowance of vehicle expenses, which the CSM rejected as not credible.  Appellant finally asserted that the CSM failed to properly consider the needs of his subsequent child under Minn. Stat. § 518.551, subd. 5f (2002).  The CSM, however, did make some findings consistent with the statute, considered the needs of the subsequent child, and denied appellant’s request that a deviation occur due to the needs of his subsequent child.  In any event, given our decision to reverse because the CSM failed to use the standard tax tables, we need not fully address these additional issues.