This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
In re the Marriage of:
Julie Anne Sigfrid, petitioner,
Christopher Earl Sigfrid,
Filed January 17, 2006
Polk County District Court
File No. F5-03-993
Kerry S. Rosenquist, Rosenquist & Arnason, LLP, 301 North 3rd Street, Suite 300, Grand Forks, ND 58203 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Willis, Presiding Judge; Worke, Judge; and Crippen, Judge.[*]
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
On September 4, 1996, the parties
marriage was dissolved pursuant to a judgment and decree filed in
On April 15, 2004, venue was
Also in September 2004, respondent filed a motion to modify child support. Following a hearing, the district court ordered appellant to pay child support in the amount of $2,092.50 per month retroactive to September 12, 2004. The order was based on findings that (1) appellant’s gross income in 1999 was $48,000, in 2000 was $127,000, in 2001 was $123,600, and in 2002 was $1,439,000; (2) appellant failed to supply the court or counsel with a complete accounting of his income and expenses other than his subchapter S corporation income tax filings; (3) since the dissolution, appellant had purchased a $3 million home and admittedly placed the title of the home (and other assets) in the name of Sigfrid Woolsey Estate, LLC, specifically to prevent respondent from collecting child support; and (4) appellant testified that he would be willing to pay the maximum child support allowed by law. The district court found that appellant had no reasonable excuse for failing to purge himself by making current his arrearages and ordered him to immediately start serving the 30-day sentence. This appeal follows.
D E C I S I O N
In marriage-dissolution cases, a
district court has broad discretion to provide for the support of the parties’
children. Putz v. Putz, 645 N.W.2d 343, 347 (
The district court findings reflect that appellant’s gross income in 1999 was approximately $48,000, in 2000 was approximately $127,000, in 2001 was approximately $123,600, and in 2002 was approximately $1,439,000. The district court also found that appellant “did not supply the [c]ourt or counsel with a complete accounting of his income and expenses, other than his [s]ubchapter S [c]orporation income tax filings.” In addition, the district court found that appellant had purchased a $3 million home after the divorce and put the title to the home (and other assets) in the name of Sigfrid Woolsey Estate, LLC specifically to prevent respondent from collecting child support.
Appellant argues that the district
court clearly erred by finding that appellant’s income for 2002 was $1,439,000,
which incorrectly included the income of the corporation. Any error in the district court’s finding of
appellant’s income is harmless. See
Although the district court’s finding regarding appellant’s 2002 gross income may reflect an incorrect amount, appellant’s testimony regarding his actual gross income for 2002 still reveals income in excess of the income cap. Therefore, the district court’s finding regarding appellant’s 2002 gross income would produce the same guidelines support obligation as appellant’s version of his actual net monthly income for 2002. Finally, based on the district court’s finding that appellant would be willing to pay the maximum amount under the guidelines, the findings regarding appellant’s income appear to be included simply as a way to show that appellant could afford to pay the recommended amount.
Appellant next argues that the district court’s findings are insufficient because they failed to include findings regarding the parties’ income and expenses, as well as the current needs of the children. Minn. Stat. § 518.551, subd. 5(i) (2004) states:
The guidelines in this subdivision are a rebuttable presumption and shall be used in all cases when establishing or modifying child support. If the court does not deviate from the guidelines, the court shall make written findings concerning the amount of the obligor’s income used as the basis for the guidelines calculation and any other significant evidentiary factors affecting the determination of child support.
Here, the district court made specific findings regarding appellant’s income, and because the district court did not deviate from the guidelines, it was not necessary to make any further findings. The district court did, however, make additional findings regarding appellant’s admission that he intentionally placed his $3 million home and other assets in the name of Sigfrid Woolsey Estate, LLC, specifically to prevent respondent from collecting child support. The district court also found that appellant agreed to pay the maximum child support allowed by law. The district court’s findings were sufficient.
Appellant also argues that the district court’s finding that he testified that he was willing to pay the recommended child-support guidelines amount is clearly erroneous. At the start of the November 2 hearing, appellant’s attorney stated, “I don’t think [respondent’s attorney] would accept this but my client is willing to pay the maximum payment or be ordered to pay the maximum payment under the child support guidelines.” Respondent did not agree to the guideline amount, but rather proceeded with testimony based on the position that appellant’s income was significant enough to exceed the cap amount under the guidelines. If appellant did not agree with the representation made by his attorney, he had ample opportunity, while he was on the witness stand, to clarify that he was not willing to pay the maximum support under the guidelines. The district court’s finding that appellant was willing to pay the recommended child support guideline amount is not clearly erroneous.
Finally, respondent requests that this court award her attorney fees on appeal, arguing that appellant’s appeal was merely a ploy to delay the proceedings on the district court judgment. Respondent has not properly moved for attorney fees under Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 139.06. In addition, it is this court’s determination that appellant did not file this appeal in bad faith. Therefore, we decline to award respondent conduct based attorney fees. Respondent did not make a need-based request for attorney fees under Minn. Stat. § 518.14 (2004), and there is insufficient evidence in the record for this court to make an independent award of attorney fees based on need at this time. Respondent needs to file the appropriate motion under the rules in order to proceed with a request for attorney fees under Minn. Stat. § 518.14.
[*] Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.