This opinion will be unpublished and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
St. Louis County District Court
File No. 69-F9-96-600071
William D. Paul,
Considered and decided by Ross, Presiding Judge; Shumaker, Judge; and Wright, 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.
D E C I S I O N
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 (
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.
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 (
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.”).
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
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 (