This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).






County of Pine,



Heather I. Page,





Ernest L. Edens,



Filed March 29, 2005


Gordon W. Shumaker, Judge


Pine County District Court

File No. F2-02-000624




Jessica J. Geil, Assistant Pine County Attorney, 315 Main Street South, Pine City, MN 55063 (for respondent County of Pine)


Heather I. Page, 11727 Birch Bark Road, Brook Park, MN 55007 (pro se respondent)


Ernest L. Edens, 101 South Walnut, Apartment A, Peabody, KS 66866 (pro se appellant)



            Considered and decided by Toussaint, Chief Judge; Shumaker, Judge; and Dietzen, Judge.



U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N



            Following a denial of his motion to review the modification to his child support,Ernest Edens appeals pro se.  Appellant asserts that (1) the finding of his income for child-support purposes overstates his income because it omits consideration of insurance, amounts paid to another state, and amounts paid under the child-support order of another state; (2) the agreement between him and his child’s mother should be given effect; and (3) the support amount should be decreased because of financial hardship.  We affirm.



Appellant Ernest L. Edens and respondent Heather I. Page are the parents of B.E., who was born April 25, 1994.  Respondent Page has had physical custody of the child since birth.  Both appellant and respondent Page signed a recognition of parentage in 1995.  

On July 23, 2002, a child-support magistrate ordered appellant to pay $418 per month for child support.  Additionally, the magistrate found that the appellant owed the state $3,168.69 for public-assistance payments and respondent Page $1,321.31 for past support from June 2000 to July 2002 and, on July 2, 2003, ordered two judgments in those amounts against appellant. 

In March 2004, appellant moved to modify child support, requesting a decrease in amount because of financial difficulties and a contract with Page.  On April 27, 2004, the child-support magistrate modified the child support and issued a new order.  The new order required appellant to pay $294.80 a month and an additional 20% towards arrearages.  The new order gave appellant credit for a lesser monthly income, taxes, a separate child-support order[1], and insurance costs.

On May 10, 2004, appellant moved for review of the April child-support order.  The motion listed financial hardship and the contract with Page as the reasons for review.  On July 27, 2004, the magistrate denied appellant’s motion for review.  This appeal followed.



On appeal from a child-support magistrate’s ruling, the standard of review is the same as it would be if the decision had been made by a district court.  Ludwigson v. Ludwigson, 642 N.W.2d 441, 445-46 (Minn. App. 2002).  The district court has wide discretion to modify child support.  Moylan v. Moylan, 384 N.W.2d 859, 864 (Minn. 1986).  This court will not reverse the district court’s decision on child support unless it is clearly erroneous.  Rutten v. Rutten, 347 N.W.2d 47, 51 (Minn. 1984).  A clearly erroneous decision is one that is against logic and the facts on the record.  Id. at 50. 

1.         Determination of Monthly Income

            Appellant asserts that the child-support magistrate did not correctly determine his monthly income when the April 27 order was issued.  Specifically, appellant claims that the magistrate miscalculated his gross income, failed to include the full amount of the Kansas child-support order, failed to include a debt to the state of Kansas, and did not consider an additional $80 he now pays for insurance. 

            The guideline formula for determining the amount of child support owed is found in Minn. Stat. § 518.551, subd. 5 (2004).  The court determines a specific dollar amount for a presumptive child support by multiplying the obligor’s net income by the percentage in the guideline chart.  Minn. Stat. § 518.551, subd. 5(b).  Deviations from the guidelines may occur.  Minn. Stat. § 518.551 subd. 5(i).  But regardless of whether the court deviates from the guidelines or not, written findings to provide the basis of the decision are required.  Id.  A district court’s findings on net income for purposes of child support will be affirmed on appeal if those findings have a reasonable basis in fact and are not clearly erroneous.  State ex rel. Rimolde v. Tinker, 601 N.W.2d 468, 470 (Minn. App. 1999). 

            a.         Gross Monthly Income

            Appellant asserts that the magistrate miscalculated his gross monthly income.  He states that his gross monthly income is $1,600.  He makes $10 per hour and works approximately 40 hours per week.  Appellant appears to reach his $1,600 total by multiplying the $10 hourly wage by the 40 hours per week by four weeks per month.  But each month does not contain exactly four weeks.  The magistrate considered the actual income from appellant’s work and reached a gross monthly income of $1,790.  Because the magistrate used appellant’s pay stubs to aid in determining the gross monthly income, this determination is not clearly erroneous.

            b.         Kansas Child-Support Order

            Appellant claims that the magistrate did not consider the correct amount of the Kansas child-support order when determining his net income.  The magistrate did make a deduction from appellant’s gross monthly income of $385 labeled “child-support order that is currently being paid.”  Appellant argues that the actual amount of child support he pays for his two children in Kansas is $535.  But the needs of subsequent children shall not be factored into a support-guidelines calculation.  Minn. Stat. § 518.551, subd. 5f.  This court has concluded that the prior child is the older child by age, and the subsequent child is the younger child.  In re Paternity of J.M.V., 656 N.W.2d 558, 564 (Minn. App. 2003). 

Here, the child who is the subject of this support order is the oldest of the children.  Therefore, the orders for the subsequent children do not need to be factored into the guidelines calculation.  But because neither party has disputed that appellant is entitled to some deduction for the Kansas child support, we will not disturb the magistrate’s subtraction of $385.  The additional $150 that appellant pays the state of Kansas in past-due child support does not, however, need to be factored in when determining the guideline amount of child support for B.E.  The magistrate’s findings are not clearly erroneous.

            c.         Debt to State of Kansas

            Appellant claims that the magistrate failed to appropriately consider the $125.25 monthly payment of a debt to the state of Kansas when determining his net monthly income. 

When modifying a support obligation, the court may consider debts owed to private creditors if: (1) the right to support has not been assigned under Minn. Stat. § 256.741; (2) the court determines that the debt was reasonably incurred for necessary support of the child or parent or for the necessary generation of income; and (3) the party requesting a departure produces a sworn schedule of the debts with supporting documentation. 


Minn. Stat. §  518.551, subd. 5(b). 

In this case, appellant provides the second page of a two-page document displaying a payment plan for a $3,006 debt.  He provides no background for the debt, and the magistrate did not find that it was incurred for the generation of income.  Because appellant did not provide reasonable background information for the debt, the magistrate’s decision not to include the $125.25 as a deduction from appellant’s gross income is not clearly erroneous.  

            d.         Additional $80 for Insurance

            Appellant claims that the magistrate erroneously included $151.67 as a deduction for insurance rather than the $231.67 his insurance actually costs, stating that the discrepancy is a result of an additional $80 added to the cost of his insurance “after the April 27 order and before the May 8 Motion For Review.”  But there is no evidence of this additional cost in the record.  In fact, in the documents attached to the motion for review, appellant specifically states his insurance payment is $151.67, which is the exact amount deducted from his gross income in the modification order.  Therefore, it appears that appellant raises this claim for the first time in his brief and without documentation.  This court will generally not consider matters not argued and considered in the court below.  Thiele v. Stich, 425 N.W.2d 580, 582 (Minn. 1988).  Because there is no documentation of this $80 increase and appellant raises the issue for the first time on appeal, we will not consider this argument.

2.         Contract

Appellant claims that a contract he made with Page to modify the amount of child support should have been given effect.  The child-support guidelines create a rebuttable presumption and shall be used in all cases when establishing or modifying child support.  Minn. Stat. § 518.551, subd. 5(i).  “The court may deviate from the guidelines if both parties agree . . . except that in cases where child-support payments are assigned to the public agency under section 256.741.”  Id.  If the payments have been assigned to a public agency, the court can deviate downward only if it specifically finds that the failure to deviate would impose an extreme hardship on the obligor.  Minn. Stat. § 518.551, subd. 5 (j). 

In this case, the agreement that appellant is asking the court to enforce is a downward deviation from the guidelines.  The magistrate considered the agreement when making the order and determined that it should not be given effect.  The magistrate concluded that the agreement was almost a year old, Page was not present to verify the agreement, and the original was not filed with the court.  Additionally, the magistrate concluded that Page was a recipient of public assistance and the county did not join in the agreement. 

3.         Hardship

            Appellant claims that the child-support guideline amount is a financial hardship for his family.  If a transcript is not provided on appeal, review is limited to whether the findings support the district court’s conclusions of law.  Bormann v. Bormann, 644 N.W.2d 478,481 (Minn. App. 2002).  Here, there is no transcript.  The magistrate noted that appellant alleged severe financial hardship in support of his request for a downward deviation.  But the magistrate found that appellant did not prove that the payment of guidelines child support would be a financial hardship because he was already given credit for the Kansas child-support order; the subsequently born child who lives with him and the expected child cannot be considered; and he did not show that the downward deviation would be in the best interests of the child involved in this action.  Additionally, the magistrate concluded that appellant had the ability to pay the decreased amount of child support.  Because our review is limited to whether the findings support the conclusions of law, and because the magistrate’s conclusions were based upon the facts before him, the magistrate’s determination that appellant has the ability to pay the ordered amount of child support is not clearly erroneous. 


[1] In addition to the child this support order deals with, appellant has two other children, J.E and G.E. in Kansas, who do not reside with him and who have child-support orders against appellant.  J.E. and G.E. were born in 1998 and 1999.   Appellant also has a child with his current wife, and she is pregnant with a second child.