Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
In Re the Marriage of:
Kristi Kay Migneault,
n/k/a Kristi Kay Boje, petitioner,
Michael Francis Migneault,
Filed June 9, 1998
File No. FX8415903
John P. Guzik, Guzik Law Office, 2353 Rice Street, Suite 203, Roseville, MN 55113 (for respondent)
Dorrie B. Estebo, Assistant Anoka County Attorney, Anoka County Government Center, 2100 Third Avenue, Anoka, MN 55303-2265 (for respondent Anoka County)
Considered and decided by Toussaint, Chief Judge, Foley, Judge, and Mulally, Judge.
*Retired judge of the district court, serving as judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Kristi Kay Migneault, now known as Kristi Kay Boje, appeals the administrative law judge's (ALJ) order establishing her child support obligation based on imputed minimum wage income. Because the record supports the ALJ's determination that appellant is voluntarily unemployed and appellant failed to submit adequate information to support a downward deviation from the support guidelines, we affirm.
Appellant remarried and had two more children, now ages 13 and 11. Appellant's second marriage was dissolved. Appellant has custody of the two children from the second marriage, and receives child support of $90 per week from the children's father. Appellant also has a child from her third marriage, born on November 8, 1996. Appellant's current household consists of herself, her husband, their child, and the two children from appellant's second marriage. Respondent has also remarried and his current household consists of himself, his wife, their child, and M.J.M.
At respondent's request, the Anoka County child support authority (the county) initiated an administrative action to establish appellant's child support obligation for M.J.M. in July 1996. In her July 19, 1996, financial statement, appellant indicated that she quit her last employment in February 1994. The statement indicates that appellant's husband earns approximately $800 to $900 in net income per month.
By order on December 13, 1996, the ALJ determined that appellant has reasonable monthly expenses of $948, and that respondent has reasonable monthly expenses of $1,197. The ALJ found that appellant's pregnancy and expected infant prohibit her from obtaining employment. The ALJ reserved the issue of child support and directed appellant to appear for a review hearing on July 1, 1997.
At the review hearing, appellant testified that she had not worked or sought employment since her youngest child was born on November 8, 1996. Appellant testified that her expenses are the same or have gone up slightly because of the new child. Appellant testified that her husband has a child support obligation of $96 per week for his children from a prior relationship, and that her husband's income does not meet the family's needs. Appellant testified that she is able to work, except that she has a lower back condition that precludes her from lifting.
Respondent testified that M.J.M. has ongoing health problems with hypothyroidism, and that she has been taking antidepressants and participating in counseling. Respondent stated that health insurance costs for M.J.M. were about $150 per month, with an additional $50 per month in uninsured health expenses.
By order filed July 30, 1997, the ALJ found that appellant has the ability to earn minimum wage full time and ordered appellant to pay $108 per month in child support based on imputed earnings. By order on October 13, 1997, the ALJ granted appellant's motion for reconsideration in part, adding findings to the effect that appellant had not made a significant effort to obtain employment since the birth of her youngest child, that appellant had not produced evidence that would support a downward deviation in the setting of child support, and that imputation of income is proper based on appellant's decision to remain at home to care for the children in her household. This appeal followed.
D E C I S I O N
The child support guidelines are a rebuttable presumption and shall be used in all cases when establishing or modifying child support. Minn. Stat. § 518.551, subd. 5(i) (1996). In addition to the child support guidelines, the court shall take into consideration certain factors in setting or modifying child support or in determining whether to deviate from the guidelines. Id., subd. 5(c). These factors include the earnings, income, and resources of the parents; the financial needs and resources, physical and emotional condition, and educational needs of the child to be supported; the standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the marriage not been dissolved, but recognizing that the parents now have separate households; which parent receives the income taxation dependency exemption; the parents' debts; and the obligor's receipt of public assistance. Id.
If the court finds that a parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, child support shall be calculated based on a determination of imputed income. Id., subd. 5b(d). A parent is not considered voluntarily unemployed or underemployed if the parent shows that the unemployment or underemployment will ultimately lead to an increase in income or that the unemployment or underemployment represents a bona fide career change that outweighs the adverse effect of the parent's diminished income on the child. Id. If the court is unable to determine or estimate the earning ability of a parent, the court may calculate child support based on full-time employment of 40 hours per week at the federal minimum wage or the Minnesota minimum wage, whichever is higher. Id.
Appellant argues that the imputation of income to her was an abuse of discretion because there is no finding that she is unemployed in bad faith. But Minn. Stat. § 518.551, subd. 5b(d), allows imputation of income without a finding that the obligor has decreased or eliminated his or her income in a bad faith attempt to avoid paying support. Franzen v. Borders, 521 N.W.2d 626, 629 (Minn. App. 1994). That bad faith is not required is implicit in Franzen. Walker says it explicitly. See Walker v. Walker, 553 N.W.2d 90, 95 n.1 (Minn. App. 1996) ("when setting child support, courts are no longer required to find bad faith before considering an obligor's earning capacity").
In this case, the July 30, 1997, order established appellant's support obligation of $108 per month beginning on July 1, 1997. Therefore, appellant's support obligation was suspended for more than six months after the birth of her youngest child on November 8, 1996. At the July 1, 1997, hearing, appellant acknowledged that she suffers from no disability that would preclude her from obtaining employment. Although appellant claimed that she has only worked part-time in the past, appellant made no showing that she is unable to obtain full-time minimum wage employment. The record supports the ALJ's findings that appellant is able to obtain full-time minimum wage employment. See Minn. R. Civ. P. 52.01 (findings of fact shall not be set aside unless clearly erroneous).
Appellant argues that it is not economically feasible for her to work full time at a minimum wage job because of the cost of day care. But appellant provided no evidence of the cost of day care in her community. Alternatively, appellant did not demonstrate that no employment is available to her during hours when her husband is home to care for the children.
Appellant did not meet her burden to show that her unemployment will ultimately lead to an increase in income or that her unemployment represents a bona fide career change that outweighs the adverse effect of the diminished income on M.J.M. The ALJ's imputation of minimum wage income to appellant because of her voluntary unemployment was not an abuse of discretion.
Finally, appellant challenges the ALJ's refusal to deviate from the guidelines. Appellant argues that the ALJ failed to make adequate findings in support of the award. But the ALJ was not required to make detailed findings because guidelines support was awarded. See Rouland v. Thorson, 542 N.W.2d 681, 684 (Minn. App. 1996) (under current statute, district court need only make findings on obligor's income and other factors affecting support determination if guidelines support is awarded).
In the event of deviation from the guidelines to consider the needs of subsequent children, the court normally must not favor subsequent children over the obligor's first child. Bock v. Bock, 506 N.W.2d 321, 325 (Minn. App. 1993). In determining the obligor's reasonable expenses and the needs of subsequent children, the district court must take into account the contributions to those needs by another parent of the children and those persons who share the obligor's current household. Id.
In this case, appellant failed to document her current expenses or her husband's income. The ALJ's award of guidelines support was not an abuse of discretion because appellant did not demonstrate that deviation from the guidelines is warranted. See Taflin v. Taflin, 366 N.W.2d 315, 319 (Minn. App. 1985) (district court did not abuse its discretion in maintaining current child support when obligor failed to submit adequate financial information to support a decrease).
 This subsection was amended in 1997 to provide that child support may be calculated based on full-time employment of 40 hours per week at 150% of the federal minimum wage or the Minnesota minimum wage, whichever is higher. 1997 Minn. Laws ch. 245, art. I, § 13. This amendment went into effect on August 1, 1997, because no different date was specified in the act. See Minn. Stat. § 645.02 (1996). Because the ALJ's decision was issued prior to the effective date of the 1997 amendment, the 1996 version of the statute applies.