This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

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







Diane Pelinka,





Richard Pelinka,



Filed August 29, 2006


Ross, Judge


St. Louis County District Court

File No. 69-F9-96-600071


William D. Paul, 1217 East First Street, Duluth, MN 55805 (for appellant)


Diane Pelinka, 2502 East 2nd Street, Duluth, MN 55812 (pro se)



            Considered and decided by Ross, Presiding Judge; Shumaker, Judge; and Wright, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D    O P I N I O N

ROSS, Judge


On appeal from the district court’s order denying appellant Richard Pelinka’s motion to modify his child-support obligation, Richard Pelinka argues that the district court abused its discretion by (a) failing to make a finding of his income; (b) imposing a $1,650 monthly child-support obligation without support in the record; and (c) not applying a retroactive reduction of his child-support obligation.  Because we find no abuse of discretion, we affirm.


Appellant Richard Pelinka and respondent Diane Pelinka dissolved their marriage on August 29, 1997.  At that time, the parties had two minor children, Katharine Pelinka, who is now 20 years old, and S.P., who is now 17.  The dissolution decree ordered Richard Pelinka to pay Diane Pelinka monthly child support until “each child is 18 years of age or has completed high school, whichever event occurs later.”  Katharine’s eighteenth birthday was in April 2004, and she graduated from high school that June.

In December 2004, Richard Pelinka, then 51 years old, closed his business and retired.  He claims that his only source of income is the $2,000 monthly rental proceeds he receives from leasing the building in which his business was located.  The following March he moved for, among other things, modification of his child-support obligation and modification of S.P.’s custody status.  The district court found that Richard Pelinka voluntarily sold his business, noting that he was quoted in a local newspaper as indicating that the sale was intended to allow him free time to build his house, to travel, and to enjoy life.  The court found no health-related or other compelling basis for the early retirement.  It reduced his child-support obligation to reflect Katharine’s emancipation, but, finding him to have been voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, it imputed income to him and concluded that there has been no substantial change in circumstances warranting further modification.  This appeal follows.


Richard Pelinka challenges the district court’s child-support obligation determinations.  The district court has wide discretion when considering a motion to modify child support, and we will reverse its modification order only if it is against logic and the facts on record.  Putz v. Putz, 645 N.W.2d 343, 347 (Minn. 2002).  We will not alter a finding of fact regarding an obligor’s income for purposes of child support unless that finding is clearly erroneous.  Ludwigson v. Ludwigson, 642 N.W.2d 441, 446 (Minn. App. 2002).  A finding of fact is clearly erroneous when, viewing the record in the light most favorable to the district court’s findings and considering our deference to the district court’s credibility determinations, we are left with “the definite and firm conviction that a mistake was made.” Vangsness v. Vangsness, 607 N.W.2d 468, 474 (Minn. App. 2000).  Richard Pelinka does not identify any error leaving us with such a conviction.

Richard Pelinka contends that he was entitled to a reduction of his child-support obligation based on the changed circumstance of the dissolution of his business.  The district court may modify the terms of a child-support obligation upon a showing that a party’s earnings or needs have substantially increased or decreased such that the child-support obligation has become unreasonable and unfair.  Minn. Stat. § 518.64, subd. 2(a)(1), (2) (2004); O’Donnell v. O’Donnell, 678 N.W.2d 471, 475 (Minn. App. 2004).  Richard Pelinka argues that modification is justified because his monthly income is only $2,000 from rental proceeds and because Katharine has turned 18 and has graduated from high school.

In support, he maintains that the district court failed to make specific findings regarding his income and that the record does not support the district court’s imposition of a $1,650 monthly child-support obligation.  Ordinarily, detailed factual findings are required to demonstrate that the district court considered the relevant statutory factors.  Tuthill v. Tuthill, 399 N.W.2d 230, 232 (Minn. App. 1987).  Insufficient findings render meaningful appellate review impossible.  Stich v. Stich, 435 N.W.2d 52, 53 (Minn. 1989).  But the district court’s findings are sufficient if they demonstrate that the court considered the statutory factor relevant to its conclusion.  See Tuthill, 399 N.W.2d at 232.

The district court concluded that Richard Pelinka did not sufficiently demonstrate that he suffered a decrease in earnings to render his child-support obligation unreasonable and unfair.  See Minn. Stat. § 518.64, subd. 2(a)(1).  The district court reached this conclusion on the finding that although Pelinka claims to earn only $2,000 monthly in rental income, he does so because he voluntarily retired at 51 upon selling his business so that he could “travel and enjoy life.”  The district court also noted that Pelinka did not provide the district court with any evidence of or explanation for the disposition of his potentially income-producing assets.  On the district court’s finding that he is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, it imputed to him “the same economic and income capacity as he had previously.”

These findings are supported by record evidence, and we conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion by imputing income.  See Minn. Stat. § 518.551, subd. 5b(d) (2004) (permitting the district court to impute income to a parent who it determines is voluntarily underemployed or unemployed).  Because the imputation of Richard Pelinka’s previous earnings sufficiently indicates that the district court considered the statutory factor of whether there had been a substantial decrease in his earnings, we conclude that the district court’s findings regarding his income are sufficient.  See Tuthill, 399 N.W.2d at 232 (“The finding at issue here is sufficient to indicate that the trial court considered appellant’s claim that there had been a substantial change in circumstances and concluded that he had failed to make such a showing.”).

The district court’s imposition of a $1,650 child-support obligation is based on the amount of Richard Pelinka’s previous obligation.  In 1997, the district court determined that his net monthly income was $5,400, which for two children resulted in a monthly child-support obligation of $1,620.  Every two years, the obligation increased by virtue of a cost-of-living adjustment, and when he moved for modification in March 2005, his child-support obligation was $1,884 monthly.  See Minn. Stat. § 518.641, subd. 1 (2004) (requiring a biennial cost-of-living adjustment to child-support and spousal-maintenance obligations).  The record shows that effective May 1, 2005, Richard Pelinka’s child-support obligation for two children increased to $1,980 monthly.  The district court’s $1,650 child-support determination rests on that obligation as reduced using the statutory child-support guidelines to reflect Katharine’s emancipation.  Because the district court’s child-support determination is based on record evidence, it is not clearly erroneous.

Richard Pelinka argues finally that the district court abused its discretion by failing to retroactively reduce his child-support obligation.  He argues that his obligation should have reduced automatically when Katharine graduated from high school in June 2004 and that the district court should have given the emancipation reduction retroactive effect.  But the record shows that Richard Pelinka did not request a retroactive reduction of his child-support obligation in his motion for modification.  Because he failed to raise this issue to the district court, we decline to consider it on appeal.  Thiele v. Stich, 425 N.W.2d 580, 582 (Minn. 1988).