Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
In Re the Marriage of:
Barbara J. Hoganson, petitioner,
Mark Stephen Bryant,
Filed June 9, 1998
Affirmed; motion denied
Hennepin County District Court
File No. 145665
Karim El-Ghazzawy, El-Ghazzawy Law Office, 701 Fourth Avenue South, Suite 500, Minneapolis, MN 55415 (for respondent)
Theo. Wangensteen, Jr., 2225 Holly Lane, Plymouth, MN 55447 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Huspeni, Presiding Judge, Willis, Judge, and Holtan, 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
Appellant contends that the district court erred in modifying the stipulated judgment and decree, ordering him to pay child support arrearages, and in awarding respondent attorney fees. Respondent alleges that the district court erred in not imputing appellant's income, allowing appellant to claim unreasonable automobile expenses, reserving the issue of daycare, and in awarding $1,000 in attorney fees. Respondent made a motion for attorney fees on appeal. We affirm and deny the motion for attorney fees.
Between 1990 and 1996, Bryant's net income significantly varied. Bryant paid the base amount of child support, including cost of living adjustments, when he earned less than $1,000 per month. He also paid the base amount when he earned more than $1,000 per month, but he did not pay the agreed upon additional 25% of income beyond $1,000 per month. Bryant remarried and his spouse contributed to his financial obligations. Neither party provided the other with annual tax returns.
In November 1996, respondent filed a motion to modify child support. The district court determined that the amended child support provision was no longer equitable, the provision should not receive prospective application, and that the parties did not exchange their tax returns. Further, the district court ordered Bryant to pay arrearages for 1991. After a two-day evidentiary hearing, the district court awarded additional arrearages to Hoganson for 1994 and 1995.
D E C I S I O N
It is well established that the decision to modify a child support order lies in the broad and sound discretion of the trial court, and an appellate court will reverse for an abuse of that discretion only where it finds a "clearly erroneous conclusion that is against logic and the facts on record."
Moylan v. Moylan, 384 N.W.2d 859, 864 (Minn. 1986) (quoting Rutten v. Rutten, 347 N.W.2d 47, 50 (Minn. 1984)). "Because child support relates to children's nonbargainable interests, it is less restricted by stipulation than other dissolution matters." Polk County Social Servs. ex rel. Hagen v. Clinton, 459 N.W.2d 362, 365 (Minn. App. 1990). The district court has broad discretion in child support matters. Nazar v. Nazar, 505 N.W.2d 628, 633 (Minn. App. 1993), review denied (Minn. Oct. 28, 1993).
Next, Hoganson argues that the district court erred in allowing Bryant to claim as exempt for child support purposes certain automobile deductions, which greatly exceeded his child support obligation. We disagree. Here, the district court found that (1) Bryant's lease or debt payments for his vehicles always were greater than his child support payments; (2) Bryant believed he needed certain vehicles to give the impression that he was successful; (3) Bryant needed a vehicle for business; and (4) in 1994 Bryant's income supported his transportation expenses, and that in 1995, if vehicle expenses were reduced and taxes deducted, his arrearage would not likely be greater than if, as he reasonably and equitably proposed, child support was determined from his gross profit without deducting taxes. Given these findings, the district court did not abuse its discretion in not reducing Bryant's auto expenses in order to increase child support.
Hoganson asserts that the district court erred in reserving the issue of daycare and in failing to order Bryant to pay some portion of the tutoring expenses. We disagree. Here, the record demonstrates that the district court considered Bryant's lifestyle, his wife's contribution to Bryant's support, the child's needs, and the fact that Bryant's proposed child support payments exceeded the amount required by the guidelines. Given the district court's comprehensive assessment of the parties' situations and the district court's superior position to make these fact-specific determinations, we cannot say that the district court abused its discretion.
As [Bryant failed] to provide his income information to [Hoganson] for many years, resulting in litigation, [Bryant] should contribute $1000.00 to [Hoganson's] attorney's fees.
Further, the record shows that the district court examined the parties' financial situations. Under these circumstances, the district court acted within its discretion in awarding attorney fees. See Minn. Stat. § 518.14, subd. 1 (1996) (stating the district court has discretion in awarding additional fees "against a party who unreasonably contributes to the length or expense of the proceeding"); Dobrin v. Dobrin, 555 N.W.2d 921, 925-26 (Minn. App. 1996) (upholding attorney fees award where district court generally discussed economic situations of parties), rev'd on other grounds, 569 N.W.2d 199, 203 (Minn. 1997).
Hoganson also requests this court award $5,100 in attorney fees for the costs of the appeal. We deny the motion. This court may award attorney fees on appeal if the arguments are frivolous or asserted in bad faith. Dabrowski v. Dabrowski, 477 N.W.2d 761, 766 (Minn. App. 1991); see also Minn. Stat. § 518.14, subd. 1 (listing factors necessary to justify award of fees); Gales v. Gales, 553 N.W.2d 416, 423 (Minn. 1996) (applying Minn. Stat. § 518.14 to determine whether attorney fees for purposes of appeal are warranted). Here, Hoganson states that Bryant's appeal has "unduly contributed to the costs of this litigation," but does not present the necessary basis under statutory law or legal precedent for this court to award attorney fees. Thus, her motion is denied.
Affirmed; motion denied.