This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Carson Miles Erickson,
Veronica Ann Erickson,
Filed June 13, 2006
Hennepin County District Court
File No. DC 276289
Daniel S. McGrath, Steingart, McGrath & Moore, P.A., 3300 Edinborough Way, Suite 601, Edina, MN 55435-5692 (for respondent)
Veronica A. Erickson, 9526 Grey Widgeon Place, Eden Prairie, MN 55347-2745 (pro se appellant)
Considered and decided by Shumaker, Presiding Judge, Wright, Judge, and Crippen, Judge.
Appellant Veronica Erickson challenges a Hortis/Valento child-support determination whereby respondent Carson Erickson has a net monthly support payment of only $93.63 for two children for whom appellant provides most of the parental care. Because the district court correctly applied Hortis/Valento by limiting its application to children of whom the parents share joint custody, we affirm.
The parties had three children during their marriage: A in 1989; E in 1991; and K in 1995. In a 2002 dissolution judgment, the district court awarded the parties joint legal and physical custody of the children pursuant to a marital termination agreement. The court ordered respondent to pay appellant $1,440.31 in monthly child support.
In 2004 the parties agreed to a judgment modification providing that respondent would have sole physical custody of E, and respondent moved for a modification of his child-support obligation. Using the financial and custody-time information provided by the parties and the statutory child-support guidelines, the district court found that appellant’s net monthly income is $3,749.80 and that her guidelines support obligation for E is $937.45. The court used the Hortis/Valento formula to calculate the parties’ support obligations for A and K, determining that appellant’s obligation is $157.49 and respondent’s obligation is $1,188.57. Using respondent’s net support payment for A and K, $1,031.08, and subtracting appellant’s support obligation for E, the district court modified respondent’s child-support obligation and ordered him to pay appellant $93.63 monthly.
When considering a motion to
modify a child-support obligation, the district court must determine whether a
change in circumstances warrants modification of the obligation. Minn. Stat. § 518.64, subd. 2(a) (2004);
Long v. Creighton, 670 N.W.2d 621,
626 (Minn. App. 2003). The court has broad discretion to modify a child-support
obligation. In re
Appellant first argues that E’s custody change was not a substantial change in circumstances and that the district court abused its discretion by modifying respondent’s total child-support payment. Without transcripts, we defer to the district court’s finding of a substantial change in circumstances. See id. And because this finding supports modification, we can find no abuse of discretion.
Appellant next argues that the district court abused its discretion by treating A and E differently, arguing that the division of parenting time for these two children varies very little. But appellant’s assertions about the amount of time that A and E spend with respondent are unsupported by the limited record presented to this court, and we must again defer to the district court’s findings.
The district court used the proper guideline formula to determine appellant’s support obligation with respect to E because respondent is her sole physical custodian. See Minn. Stat. § 518.551, subd. 5(a), (b) (2004); cf. Rogers v. Rogers, 622 N.W.2d 813, 821 (Minn. 2001) (holding that using the Hortis/Valento formula in a situation involving sole physical custody is a deviation from the guidelines). The court also used the proper Hortis/Valento calculation to determine the parties’ obligations respecting joint parental custody of A and K and to offset respondent’s net obligation by the amount of appellant’s support for E. See Schlichting v. Paulus, 632 N.W.2d 790, 792–93 (Minn. App. 2001) (holding that the Hortis/Valento formula is the presumptively appropriate method for calculating support obligations when parents have joint physical custody). There is no abuse of discretion in the court’s calculations, which are supported by its findings of fact.
Appellant also argues that
the district court abused its discretion by using the custody labels determined
in the judgment and supported by agreements of the parties, contending that the
court should have acted on the “reality of the situation” to determine respondent’s
child-support obligation. But the
custody status of the children determines the method to be used to calculate
the parties’ support obligations. See
Appellant cites Tweeton v. Tweeton, 560 N.W.2d 746
(Minn. App. 1997), review denied (Minn. May 28,
1997), to support her argument that the custody labels should not be
dispositive. But Tweeton did not disturb a Hortis/Valento
application; to the contrary, the case upheld such a calculation when based on
an equal parenting-time allocation that conflicted with a sole-custody
Respondent filed a motion with this court for attorney fees under Minn. Stat. § 549.211 (2004). Because we conclude that there was no bad faith on appellant’s part with respect to this appeal, the motion is denied.
Affirmed; motion denied.
* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.