may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
County of Dakota,
Sharon Marie Romig,
Daniel Robert Palodichuk,
Filed August 31, 1999
Affirmed in part, modified in part, and reversed in part
Dakota County District Court
File No. F7936872
Sharon Marie Romig, 1648 South Concord, South St. Paul, MN 55075 (pro se respondent)
Ronald B. Sieloff, Sieloff and Associates, P.A., 938 Minnesota Building, 46 East Fourth Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Randall, Presiding Judge, Kalitowski, Judge, and Schumacher, Judge.
Following an order setting child support, appellant Daniel Robert Palodichuk (father) alleges the administrative law judge (ALJ) abused her discretion by imputing income for purposes of setting father's support obligation, entering judgment and ordering payment on support arrears, ordering father to pay respondent Sharon Marie Romig (mother) for uninsured medical expenses and ongoing medical support, and ruling father could not claim the child's tax dependency exemption for 1998. We affirm in part, modify in part, and reverse in part.
On appeal, this court ruled the ALJ erred by setting support based on imputed income without finding father unemployed or underemployed and by imputing income to father without considering the relevant statute. This court then remanded for a determination as to whether father was underemployed and, if so, to consider the statutory factors when imputing income. Romig v. Palodichuk, No. C8-96-1556, 1997 WL 65516 (Minn. App. Feb. 18, 1997) (Palodichuk-I).
On remand, the ALJ found father made a bona fide career change, temporarily reduced support to $150 per month, suspended father's payments for arrears, granted father the dependency exemption, and ordered a review hearing to determine whether, based on father's actual income, there was a continuing need for the temporary reduction of father's support obligation. After the review hearing, another ALJ found father voluntarily underemployed and set support at $457 per month plus $19.50 for medical and dental insurance. Father appealed again.
This court ruled the ALJ erred in re-litigating the underemployment issue at the review hearing, noting that the review hearing was to be limited to finding father's actual income and the impact of that figure on father's support obligation. This court then remanded for a determination of father's current income and the propriety of continuing the temporary reduction of father's support obligation. Dakota County v. Palodichuk, No. C7-98-192, 1998 WL 372805 (Minn. App. Jul. 7, 1998) (Palodichuk-II).
On remand, the ALJ found no substantial change in circumstances requiring modification of the $150 temporary support award but ordered a review hearing to determine whether father was underemployed. After that review hearing, the ALJ (1) found father was not voluntarily underemployed, (2) found determination of father's net monthly income impracticable because of difficulty in separating father's business and personal expenses, (3) did a cash-flow analysis, (4) ruled father failed to show that continuing his $150 temporary support obligation was proper, (5) set monthly support at the "prior" level of $479, (6) ordered father to pay additional monthly amounts of $95.80 for arrears and $50 for any month the child received medical assistance, and (7) denied father the 1998 dependency exemption. Father appeals.
An appellate court reviews an ALJ's support determination as it would a district court's support determination. Lee v. Lee, 459 N.W.2d 365, 368-69 (Minn. App. 1990), review denied (Minn. Oct. 18, 1990). A district court has broad discretion to address child support. Rutten v. Rutten, 347 N.W.2d 47, 50 (Minn. 1984).
1. Father argues the ALJ abused her discretion by failing to follow the mandates of prior appeals. We agree. "A trial court's duty on remand is to execute the mandate of the remanding court strictly according to its terms." Duffey v. Duffey, 432 N.W.2d 473, 476 (Minn. App. 1988) (citing Halverson v. Village of Deerwood, 322 N.W.2d 761, 766 (Minn. 1982)). Here, Palodichuk-II was remanded for the ALJ to find father's actual current income and determine whether the temporary reduction of father's support obligation should be continued. The ALJ, however, imputed income to father based on the income figure in the first order, a figure rejected in both Palodichuk-I and Palodichuk-II. The ALJ's ruling was contrary to the remand directives of Palodichuk-II and the policy stated in case law. See Beede v. Law, 400 N.W.2d 831, 834 (Minn. App. 1997) (stating public policy recognizes important right of parties to rely on finality of judgment).
Generally, an ALJ must determine current net monthly income for purposes of setting support under the child support guidelines. Thomas v. Thomas, 407 N.W.2d 124, 127 (Minn. App. 1997). Here, father provided the ALJ with an affidavit and numerous attachments outlining and supporting his calculation of his current net monthly income at $1,092.42. The guideline support obligation for a $1,092.42 net monthly income is $273.10. Minn. Stat. § 518.551, subd. 5(b) (1998). There was no objection to father's calculation of his net monthly income. At oral argument before this court, there was no objection to this court setting support rather than ordering a third remand. Accordingly, we modify father's monthly support obligation to $273.10.
2. Father argues the ALJ erred by awarding a judgment for support arrears because a judgment on arrears was not within the scope of the second remand. But father does not dispute the amount of his arrearages. See Midway Ctr. Assocs. v. Midway Ctr., Inc., 306 Minn. 352, 356, 237 N.W.2d 76, 78 (1975) (prevailing on appeal requires appellant to show both error and that error caused prejudice). We note that the amount typically added to a support obligation to be applied to arrears is 20% of the existing support obligation. Minn. Stat. § 518.6111, subd. 10 (1998). Therefore, we modify father's monthly payment for arrears to $54.62, which is 20% of his $273.10 monthly support obligation.
3. Father argues that, on remand, the ALJ should not have considered the issue of his reimbursement of mother for uninsured medical expenses or ordered him to pay $50 per month for medical support. The ALJ properly considered these issues. See Minn. Stat. § 518.171, subd. 1(a)(1) (1998) (requiring every child support order to expressly address who will provide medical insurance for the minor children and how uninsured medical and dental costs will be divided). On this record, we affirm the requirement that father reimburse mother for half the child's uninsured medical and dental expenses.
Regarding ongoing insurance, mother no longer insures the child. Therefore, requiring father to pay $50 per month to be applied to medical and dental expenses is allowed by statute. Minn. Stat. § 518.171, subd. 1(b) (1998). Because on this record the requirement that father pay $50 per month is relatively low, any procedural irregularity in reaching this statutorily-supportable result is de minimus. We affirm the ALJ on this issue. See Wibbens v. Wibbens, 379 N.W.2d 225, 227 (Minn. App. 1985) (refusing to remand for de minimus error).
4. Father argues the ALJ erred by denying him the right to claim a tax dependency exemption for 1998. Father is allowed to claim a tax dependency exemption for a given year if, at the end of the year, he is current in support for that year. Here, the ALJ deprived father of his 1998 tax exemption in an order filed before 1998 ended. The ALJ's ruling on the tax dependency exemption was premature. We reverse.
Affirmed in part, modified in part, and reversed in part.