This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

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






Jennifer George,

lower court petitioner,


Ramsey County,





Brian Geschwill,



Filed May 25, 2004

Klaphake, Judge


Ramsey County District Court

File No. PF0-97-50689


Susan Gaertner, Ramsey County Attorney, Amy A. Anderson, Assistant County Attorney, 50 West Kellogg Blvd., Suite 315, St. Paul, MN 55102 (for appellant)


William Siegel, Barna, Guzy & Steffen, Ltd., 400 Northtown Financial Plaza, 200 Coon Rapids Boulevard, Coon Rapids, MN  55433 (for respondent)


            Considered and decided by Harten, Presiding Judge, Randall, Judge, and Klaphake, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


            Appellant Ramsey County argues that the child support magistrate (CSM) misapplied Minn. Stat. § 518.551, subd. 5f (2002), by (1) reducing respondent’s income for a subsequent child before setting support for the child who is the subject of this action; and (2) failing to make the findings required by the statute.  Because the CSM did not abuse her discretion in setting child support, we affirm.


            Respondent Brian Geschwill and obligee Jennifer George are the parents of K.G., who was born in March 1995 and who resides with George.  Geschwill also has a subsequent child, who resides with him and his spouse.  In July 1997, Geschwill’s initial support obligation for K.G. was $120.73 per month, an amount based on Geschwill’s ability to earn an average net monthly income of $670. 

            On April 22, 2002, George and appellant Ramsey County (the county) brought a motion to increase Geschwill’s child support obligation based on Minn. Stat. § 518.64 (2002).  After a hearing, the CSM determined that there had been a substantial change in circumstances and ordered Geschwill to pay $549 per month in child support and $76 per month in child-care expenses based on the child support guidelines.

            By order dated September 15, 2003, the CSM amended her findings to include consideration of the subsequent child:

To calculate [respondent’s] contribution to the subsequently born child[,] the court deducted from [respondent’s] net monthly income of $2,199.00 the child support for [K.G., in the amount of $549], resulting in a net monthly income of $1,649.  Applying the guidelines to this net monthly income results in a child support of $412.25 for the subsequently born child. Deducting this phantom child support from [respondent’s] net monthly income of $2,199 results in a net monthly income of $1,786.75[,] which then results in a child support for [K.G.] of $447.00 per month.

Because Geschwill did not identify at the hearing any expenses uniquely attributable to the subsequent child, except for $20 per month for childcare, no additional findings regarding his expenses could be made.  The CSM set Geschwill’s child support obligation for K.G. at $447 per month, an amount the CSM considered to be a deviation from the guidelines because “it recognizes the needs of [Geschwill’s] subsequently born child.”  Geschwill’s request for an additional hearing was denied.  This appeal by the county followed.


          The district court has broad discretion in determining child support, and the decision will not be reversed absent an abuse of that discretion.  Putz v. Putz, 645 N.W.2d 343, 347 (Minn. 2002).  This court uses the same standard to review a CSM’s support order.  Brazinsky v. Brazinsky, 610 N.W.2d 707, 710 (Minn. App. 2000).  An abuse of discretion occurs when the district court “resolves the matter in a manner that is against logic and the facts on the record.”  In re Paternity of J.M.V., 656 N.W.2d 558, 562 (Minn. App. 2003), review denied (Minn. Apr. 29, 2003).  An abuse of discretion also occurs when the district court improperly applies the law to the facts.  Ver Kuilen v. Ver Kuilen, 578 N.W.2d 790, 792 (Minn. App. 1998).

            The county argues that the CSM erred in deviating downward from the guidelines by considering the needs of Geschwill’s subsequent child.  Further, the county contends that because the CSM stated in the amended order that no additional findings could be made regarding Geschwill’s expenses, the CSM erred by giving credit for the subsequent child without making additional findings as required by the statute.  Minn. Stat. § 518.551, subd. 5f (2002).  The county asserts, however, that various calculations can be made from the findings in the original order to determine that a deviation was unnecessary.

          “Children by a subsequent marriage, while relevant to a [district] court’s decision, are not to be factored into the child support guideline tables.”  Erickson v. Erickson, 385 N.W.2d 301, 304 (Minn. 1986).  “Consistent with Erickson we have held that the [district] court can consider the obligor’s current family obligations in determining the obligor’s available resources.”  Hayes v. Hayes, 473 N.W.2d 364, 365 (Minn. App. 1991).

            Regarding subsequent children when determining a child support obligation, Minn. Stat. § 518.551, subd 5f, states:

The needs of subsequent children shall not be factored into a support guidelines calculation under subdivision 5.  The fact that an obligor had additional children after the entry of a child support order is not grounds for a modification to decrease the amount of support owed.  However, the fact that an obligor has subsequent children shall be considered in response to a request by an obligee for a modification to increase child support.  In order to deviate from the support guidelines in subdivision 5 to consider the needs of subsequent children, the trial court must:

            (1) find the obligor’s total ability to contribute to dependent children, taking into account the obligor’s income and reasonable expenses exclusive of child care.  The obligor’s expenses must be:

            (i) reduced as appropriate to take into account contributions to those costs by other adults who share the obligor’s current household; and

            (ii) apportioned between the parent and any subsequent child with regard to shared benefits, including but not limited to, housing and transportation;

            (2) find the total needs of all the obligor’s children, and if these needs are less than the obligor’s ability to pay, the needs may become the obligor’s child support obligation. When considering the needs of subsequent children, the trial court must reduce those amounts as appropriate to take into account the ability to contribute to those needs by another parent of the children;

            (3) make specific findings on the needs of the child or children who are the subject of the support order under consideration; and

            (4) exercise discretion to fairly determine the current support obligation and the contribution left available for other children, considering that the support obligation being determined should be in an amount at least equal to the contribution for a subsequent child.


(Emphasis added.)

            Here, George brought the motion to modify child support, thus requiring the court to consider Geschwill’s subsequent child when setting the support obligation.  Because the CSM deviated from the guidelines, the CSM was required to make various findings according to the statute.  The final statutory requirement, however, gives the CSM discretion to fairly determine the support obligation.

            The CSM found Geschwill’s net monthly income to be $2,199 with living expenses of $2,385 per month.[1]  The CSM determined that Geschwill’s spouse’s annual income was $40,000, based on his testimony that she earns a base salary of $11,412 as reflected in their 2002 taxes and $700 per week in tips that are not reflected in the 2002 taxes.  The CSM did not make findings showing a reduction in Geschwill’s expenses reflecting contributions by his spouse, or apportioning shared benefits, such as housing and transportation costs, between Geschwill and the subsequent child. 

            The county argues that various calculations can be made from the findings in the original order to determine such things as Geschwill’s spouse’s contribution to expenses, and the amount of shared benefits between him and the subsequent child.  Because setting a support obligation is an exercise of discretion, we decline to require the CSM to adopt a specific formula, as the county suggests, for determining the support obligation.

            While we acknowledge that the CSM did not make all the findings described in Minn. Stat. § 518.551, subd. 5f, the parties did not provide the CSM with the necessary information to make such findings, such as the specific needs of either child.  The CSM did, however, make substantial findings regarding Geschwill’s self-employment income, by considering (1) his claimed business expenses and bank deposits to a joint account, which included a settlement and gift to his spouse; (2) his spouse’s income including tips; (3) their household expenses; and (4) George’s income and expenses.  The CSM made several credibility determinations regarding evidence put forth by the parties.  Ultimately, the statute requires the court to exercise its discretion to arrive at a fair determination.

            Under Minn. Stat. § 518.551, subd. 5f, the court has discretion to fairly determine the current support obligation, which “should be in an amount at least equal to the contribution for a subsequent child,” and the contribution left available for the subsequent child.  The CSM’s amended order of $447 for K.G.’s support is more than the $412 calculation for the subsequent child’s needs.  We conclude, therefore, that the CSM did not abuse its discretion by modifying the child support obligation.



[1] None of the income and expense calculations arrived at by the CSM are challenged on appeal.