may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Florida, ex. rel.,
Hennepin County Support and
Jousko W. Mulder,
Filed December 8, 1998
Affirmed in part,
reversed in part and remanded for further consideration
Toussaint, Chief Judge
Hennepin County District Court
File No. 191123
Joseph Kaminsky, 260 Brookdale Corporate Center, 6300 Shingle Creek Parkway, Brooklyn Center, MN 55430-2183 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Toussaint, Chief Judge, Anderson, Judge and Holtan, Judge.[*]
Appellant Jousko W. Mulder challenges the district court's denial of his motion to reduce an existing child support obligation. Mulder argues that the district court abused its discretion by denying his motion for reduction because he met his burden of showing a substantial decrease in his earnings. Because there (1) is sufficient evidence in the record to support the district court's determination of Mulder's income; and (2) there is insufficient evidence in the record to show that Mulder is currently paying his support obligation for his child in Holland, we affirm those issues. However, because the district court's order does not take into account Mulder's obligations for his subsequent children, we reverse and remand this issue for further consideration.
When a motion for modification is based on a change in the obligor's income, the starting point is the obligor's current net income. Findings on net income will be affirmed if the findings have a reasonable basis in fact. Strauch v. Strauch, 401 N.W.2d 444, 447 (Minn. App. 1987). "Net monthly income is defined as total monthly income less * * * (viii) a child support or Maintenance Order that is currently being paid." Minn. Stat. § 518.551, subd. 5(b) (1996). The district court should consider the obligor's current family obligations in determining the obligor's available resources. Scearcy v. Mercado, 410 N.W.2d 43, 46 (Minn. App. 1987). However, "if a smaller award is considered, the determination must be premised on factors identified by statute for a guidelines deviation." Bock v. Bock, 506 N.W.2d 321, 325 (Minn. App. 1993).
Mulder argues that the district court erred in denying his motion to reduce his child support obligation because he met his burden of showing a substantial decrease in his earnings.
In 1995, the district court formed the basis of Mulder's child support obligation based on a determination that his net income from self-employment was $4,304 per month. This figure was derived from Mulder's monthly expenditures, according to his checking account. The district court found Mulder's expenses to be $3,742, which included a $25 monthly telephone bill, and $537 for a monthly car payment.
Mulder now claims that his net monthly income had decreased from $4,304 to $1,900 because he is no longer self-employed, but a salaried employee of his wife's company. Mulder also claims that the appearance of increased amounts in his joint checking account was due to his wife depositing various sums of money from her business as a loan repayment to herself and that these repayments had nothing to do with his earned income. Mulder further claims that any withdrawals from the business were justified as expense reimbursements and any deposits were justified as tax refunds, child support payments, and transfers from savings accounts.
The district court concluded that Mulder's child support obligation should not be decreased because (1) the only substantial change in Mulder's circumstances was his wife's incorporation of the business he previously operated by himself; (2) if anything, Mulder's condition has improved because he will now enjoy benefits he would not have had as a sole proprietor due to the minority status of the business; (3) Mulder attempted to conceal the fact the his new employment was the same business incorporated by his wife; (4) there was a preponderance of evidence showing that Mulder was involved in a course of conduct intended to deceive the court with regard to his employment status; (5) the earnings of the business had increased approximately $125,000 in the twelve months following the 1995 court order; and (6) Mulder failed to disclose two jet skis in his interrogatories. Because there is substantial evidence in the record to support the district court's determination, we affirm the determination of Mulder's net income.
Mulder also argues that the district court abused its discretion by not deducting his support obligation for his child in Holland in determining his net income. Because there is insufficient evidence in the record that Mulder is currently paying the support obligation for his child in Holland, we affirm the district court's refusal to deduct this support obligation from the determination of Mulder's net income.
When a deviation from the guidelines is sought, "the determination must be premised on factors identified by statute for a guidelines deviation." Bock 506 N.W.2d at 325; see also Minn. Stat. § 518.551, subd. 5(c), (d)(i). When a guideline deviation is sought for the consideration of the needs of subsequent children, normally the court must not favor the subsequent child over prior children. Id.
When the guideline deviation process involves the consideration of the needs of subsequent children, the court must compare contributions to all the obligor's children. Id. According to Bock, the court shall (1) take into account the income and reasonable expenses of the obligor and determine the "obligor's total ability to contribute to dependent children;" (2) total the needs of all the obligor's children, and if these needs are less than the obligor's ability to pay, the needs shall become the maximum amount for child care contributions; (3) make specific findings regarding the needs of the children who are currently being benefited; (4) use its discretion to determine the current support obligation and the available contribution for the obligor's other children; (5) reduce the obligor's reasonable expenses by the contribution of others in the obligor's household toward the obligor's expenses; (6) reduce the amount of the needs for subsequent children to take into account the contributions to those needs by another parent of the children; and (7) "assess [the] obligor's expenses * * * separate from the needs of subsequent children now in the obligor's household, [and] * * * reasonably apportion between the parent and children the expense for shared benefits." Bock, 506 N.W.2d at 325.
Because the district court failed to make specific findings on these guidelines deviation determinations, we remand for further consideration.
Affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded for further consideration.
[*]Retired judge of the district court, serving as judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.