This opinion will be unpublished and
                  may not be cited except as provided by
               Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1994)

                          State of Minnesota
                            in Court of Appeals

     In Re the Marriage of:

Adrianne VanderBorght Jackson, petitioner,


Marshall B. Jackson,

Filed October 15, 1996
Schumacher, Judge

Ramsey County District Court

File No. F891738

John P. Guzik, Guzik Law Office, 2353 Rice Street, Suite 203, Roseville, MN
55113 (for Respondent)

Kenneth R. Hertz, Hertz and Associates, 4001 Stinson Boulevard, Suite 312,
St. Anthony, MN 55421 (for Appellant)

Considered and decided by Harten, Presiding Judge, Schumacher, Judge, and
Foley, Judge.(1)
        [Footnote] (1)Retired judge of the Minnesota Court
        of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn.
        Const. art. VI, § 10.

                        Unpublished Opinion

SCHUMACHER, Judge (Hon. Vicki E. Landwehr, District Court Trial

Appellant Marshall B. Jackson (father) challenges his increased child
support obligation claiming that the administrative law judge (ALJ) erred
by estimating his income based on his lifestyle, not reducing his income
for depreciation expenses, making insufficient findings, and ordering him
to reimburse respondent Adrianne VanderBorght Jackson (mother) for medical
expenses. We affirm.

The stipulated 1992 judgment dissolving the parties' marriage awarded
mother physical custody of the parties' child, estimated father's net
monthly income to be $1,600, set support at $400 per month, ordered mother
to provide medical insurance for father and the child, and ordered father
to reimburse mother for his medical costs as well as his share of the
child's medical costs. In September 1995, the county informed father that
he was in arrears in medical support. Father moved for reduced support and
a finding that no arrears existed. Mother sought increased support and
medical-support arrears. In a February 1, 1996, amended order, the ALJ
estimated father's monthly income, based on his lifestyle, to be ``at least
$2,500.00,'' set support at the guideline level of $625 per month, and set
father's medical-support arrears at $3,581.80.

The district court has broad discretion when modifying child support and
will not be reversed absent a clearly erroneous conclusion that is against
logic and the facts on record. Moylan v. Moylan, 384 N.W.2d 859, 864
(Minn. 1986). That this case was heard by an ALJ does not alter this
analysis. See Minn. Stat. § 518.5511, subd. 4(e) (Supp. 1995)
(with exceptions not relevant here, administrative hearings in family
matters are governed by chapter 518, family court rules, and rules of civil

1. Father claims that the ALJ erred by considering his lifestyle when
estimating his income for support purposes. A finding of income for support
purposes will be affirmed if it has a reasonable basis in fact. Strauch
v. Strauch, 401 N.W.2d 444, 448 (Minn. App. 1987). If a support
obligor's income is hard to determine or does not accurately represent the
obligor's ability to pay support, the obligor's lifestyle may be
considered. See Marx v. Marx, 409 N.W.2d 526, 529 (Minn. App. 1987)
(``assets and resources of a sole business owner'' may be considered when
estimating income ``if the figures offered do not comport with evidence of
that person's lifestyle'').(1)
        [Footnote] (1)We note that Marx has been
        discussed by the commentators. See 70 A.L.R.
        4th 163 (1989) (reprinting case); Alan Stephens,
        Annotation, Divorce and Separation: Attributing
        Undisclosed Income to Parent or Spouse For Purposes
        of Making Child or Spousal Support Award, 70
        A.L.R. 4th 173 (1989).

Relying in part on information in mother's affidavits, the ALJ found
father's net monthly income difficult to determine, rejected father's claim
that his taxable income reflected his net monthly income for support
purposes, refused to treat father and his business as separate entities,
and rejected a tax-based net-income calculation.(2)
        [Footnote] (2)Father claims that the ALJ erred in
        relying on mother's affidavits because it precluded
        him from cross-examining mother about the claims in
        her affidavits. Absent ``good cause shown,'' family
        court motions are submitted on the documentary
        record. Minn. R. Gen. Pract. 303.03(d). Here,
        neither party's motion sought an evidentiary hearing
        and the lack of an evidentiary hearing addresses
        father's claims that the ALJ erred in (a) finding
        the expenses claimed in his affidavits not credible

        while finding those in mother's affidavits credible;
        and (b) finding a ``substantial improvement'' in his
        financial position since the judgment. The conflicts
        in the parties' affidavits presented the ALJ with
        credibility questions on which we defer to the ALJ.
        See Sefkow v. Sefkow, 427 N.W.2d 203, 210
        (Minn. 1988) (appellate courts defer to trial court
        credibility determinations); Straus v.
        Straus, 254 Minn. 234, 235, 94 N.W.2d 679, 680
        (1959) (appellate courts defer to trial court
        resolution of fact issues presented by conflicting

Father challenges several of the ALJ's findings. The record contains
evidence that could support father's claims but also contains evidence to
support the ALJ's findings. Thus, the findings are not clearly erroneous.
See Minn. R. Civ. P. 52.01 (findings of fact not set aside unless
``clearly erroneous''); Stiff v. Associated Sewing Supply Co., 436
N.W.2d 777, 779-80 (Minn. 1989) (if evidence conflicts, appellate court
will not alter findings merely because it might have found facts
differently in the first instance). The ALJ did not abuse her discretion in
making the ultimate finding that father's net monthly income is hard to
determine, and hence that his lifestyle may be considered in estimating his
        [Footnote] (3)In finding father's net monthly
        income, the ALJ generally considered father's taxes
        but did not find a specific amount of taxes. Father
        claims this was error. See Minn. Stat. §
        518.551, subd. 5(b) (Supp. 1995) (taxes are deducted
        from gross income to find net income). Because taxes
        depend on income and father's income is difficult to
        determine, we reject father's claim.

nor in refusing to treat father and his real estate business separately.
See Schelmeske v. Veit, 390 N.W.2d 309, 312 (Minn. App. 1986)
(``[b]ecause appellant is in the business of buying and selling real
estate, his taxable income is not an accurate indicator of his cash flow,''
and trial court did not err in estimating income).

Father claims that the ALJ erred by ignoring the depreciation of his assets
and those of his business. See Freking v. Freking, 479 N.W.2d 736,
740 (Minn. App. 1992) (``total disregard'' of legitimate depreciation ``is
reversible error''). The ALJ found father's net monthly income from
``wages, in kind income, and/or corporate profits'' to be ``at least
$2,500.00.'' Because wages and corporate profits depend on corporate
accounting which, in turn, addresses depreciation, some account of
depreciation is implicit in the finding of father's income. Also, at the
hearing, the ALJ asked mother's attorney how he calculated father's income.
Counsel replied that adding father's claimed income and all
depreciation claimed on the 1994 tax returns of father and his business
produced a net monthly income of $4,159.84. By estimating father's net
monthly income to be at least $2,500, the ALJ apparently credited father
with significant depreciation.

Father claims that under Otte v. Otte, 368 N.W.2d 293 (Minn. App.
1985), the ALJ erred by arbitrarily setting his income ``somewhere''
between his income with and without depreciation. In Otte, the
district court found a support obligor's monthly income to be between
$2,000 and $2,500 based on findings that the tax returns ``could not
reflect the actual cash income of the parties available for living
expenses[,]'' that the family's assets increased, and that the obligor had
income from a farm and business. Id. at 295. This court remanded
noting that the trial court's difficulty in addressing the income issue was
``manifest in its inability to estimate the income more accurately than
$2,000 to $2,500 per month.'' Id. at 297.

Here, the ALJ found an income amount based on consideration of the tax
returns and financial documents of father and his business, how father's
corporation does business and father's lifestyle, and father's failure to
separate his financial dealings from those of the business. On this record,
the ALJ's finding of father's income has the reasonable basis in fact
required by Strauch.
2. The ALJ did not violate Minn. Stat. § 518.64, subd. 2 (Supp.
1995) by not finding the prior support award unreasonable and unfair. The
order's conclusions of law state that the prior support order had been
shown ``to be unreasonable and unfair.'' See Bissell v. Bissell, 291
Minn. 348, 351 n.1, 191 N.W.2d 425, 427 n.1 (1971) (findings of fact stated
as conclusions of law are treated as findings of fact).

3. The ALJ awarded mother a judgment for $3,581.80 in medical-support
arrears. Father claims he is not liable for this amount because medical
coverage cost a flat amount regardless of how many people it covered and
mother needed the insurance for her child from a prior relationship. He
also claims that how the judgment amount was calculated is unclear. In
finding father's arrears, the ALJ apportioned the insurance cost pro rata
among all persons covered and concluded that father owed mother more than
the $3,581.80 she sought. Any error in the calculation is harmless to
father. See Minn. R. Civ. P. 61 (harmless error to be ignored).

4. Father claims that mother told him she would not seek reimbursement for
medical insurance costs and that mother should be precluded from recovering
them because she did not seek reimbursement until April 1995. This is an
argument based on estoppel and laches. ``[E]quitable defenses are not
available in an action based on accrued payments due under [a] decree of
divorce.'' Ryan v. Ryan, 300 Minn. 244, 251 n.2, 219 N.W.2d 912, 916
n.2 (1974) (citation omitted).

5. Mother's request for attorney fees on appeal is denied.