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Eisenschenk v. Eisenschenk

September 09, 2003

IN RE KRIS LYNN EISENSCHENK, N/K/A KRIS LYNN GRUENES, PETITIONER, APPELLANT,
v.
TIMOTHY JAMES EISENSCHENK, RESPONDENT.



Stearns County District Court File No. F9971001

Considered and decided by Halbrooks, Presiding Judge, Toussaint, Chief Judge, and Shumaker, Judge.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

1. The existence of a IV-D case on behalf of a party to a child-support dispute from whom support is sought is sufficient to confer jurisdiction on the expedited child-support process under Minn. Stat. §§ 484.702, subd. 1(b), (f), and 518.54, subd. 14 (2002).

2. Income may be imputed to or estimated for a child-support obligor either because the support obligor is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed under Minn. Stat. §á518.551, subd. 5b (2002), or because it is impracticable to determine the obligor's actual income.

3. Where a child-support obligation is reserved and set at a later date, it is generally inappropriate to make the reserved obligation retroactively effective to the date of the ruling reserving the obligation, and the fact that support was not required to be paid by the order reserving the obligation is not a sufficient reason to decline to apply the general rule.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Halbrooks, Judge

Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded

OPINION

On appeal from the district court's review of a child support magistrate's ruling, appellant challenges the district court's refusal to rule that the magistrate lacked jurisdiction over respondent's motion for support from appellant. Appellant also challenges the propriety of attributing income to her, the amount of income attributed to her, and the district court's decision to make her support obligation effective as of the date of a prior stipulated order giving respondent custody of the parties' children.

Because the magistrate had jurisdiction and because the district court did not make findings unsupported by the record or otherwise abuse its discretion in addressing the amount of appellant's support obligation, we affirm those determinations by the district court. Because the district court did not adequately explain why it made appellant's support obligation effective as of the date of the stipulated order, we reverse and remand that aspect of the district court's decision.

FACTS

The May 1997 judgment dissolving the parties' marriage awarded appellant Kris Gruenes sole physical custody of the parties' four children and set respondent Timothy Eisenschenk's monthly support obligation at $585 per month. After the dissolution, appellant remarried and lived on her new husband's farm with their two children, and the parties' four children.*fn1

A stipulated January 30, 2002 order temporarily awarded respondent physical custody of the parties' four children and suspended his support obligation while he had custody. The stipulated order also stated that if respondent wanted support from appellant, he could seek support in the expedited child-support process.

When respondent later sought support from appellant, a IV-D child-support file was open in appellant's name but not in respondent's name. Although the record is not fully developed on the point, respondent initially sought support in the expedited child-support process, apparently assuming that the magistrate had jurisdiction to address his request for support either because of the existence of appellant's IV-D file or the existence of the provision in the January 30, 2002 stipulated order stating that respondent could seek support in the ...


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