In re the Marriage of: Kenneth Duane Lee, petitioner, Appellant,
Nancy Jean Lee, Respondent.
Big Stone County District Court File No. 06-F8-02-000075.
Ronald R. Frauenshuh, Jr., Ortonville, Minnesota (for appellant) Nancy J. Lee, Ortonville, Minnesota (pro se respondent).
William J. Watson, Big Stone County Attorney, Ortonville, Minnesota (for respondent county).
Considered and decided by Cleary, Presiding Judge; Hooten, Judge; and Klaphake, Judge. [*]
Appellant challenges the order issued by a child-support magistrate (CSM) denying a motion to modify basic child support and granting a motion to modify medical support. Appellant argues that his current child-support obligation should include the amount that he owes for his children's medical-insurance premium. We affirm.
Appellant Kenneth Duane Lee and respondent Nancy Jean Lee are the parents of two minor children, A.L., born November 24, 1999, and J.L., born August 11, 2001. The marriage of the parties was dissolved by Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, Order for Judgment, and Judgment and Decree (decree) filed on April 23, 2003. The decree awarded respondent sole legal and physical custody of the children "subject to [appellant's] rights of parenting time" as specified. Appellant was ordered to pay $432.85 per month for child support. The decree stated that appellant "must obtain group dependent medical and dental insurance for the minor children if it is available through any future employer." The decree also stated that "[i]n the event that [r]espondent obtains health and/or dental insurance on the minor children, [appellant] shall be responsible for paying 49% of the premium for that coverage." Since 2003, appellant's child-support obligation has increased to $512 per month as a result of cost-of-living adjustments.
In August 2012, Big Stone County, as intervenor, filed a motion for modification of child support, asking the CSM to modify ongoing basic child support and medical support owed by appellant. A hearing was held in September 2012, and the CSM issued an order in October 2012 denying the motion to modify basic child support and granting the motion to modify medical support.
The CSM found that appellant has the ability to earn a gross monthly income of $1, 884, and that respondent's gross monthly income is $3, 233. The CSM calculated that the combined parental income for determining child support (PICS) is $5, 117, and that the combined basic-support obligation is $1, 275. Finally, the CSM determined that appellant's percentage share of the PICS is 37% and, after the parenting-time-expense adjustment, appellant's basic-support obligation is $415 per month. The CSM also addressed the children's healthcare coverage. The children receive health insurance under MinnesotaCare for which respondent pays a $157 monthly premium. Because appellant's potential income meets the eligibility requirements for public coverage, the CSM calculated appellant's contribution toward the monthly premium, according to the MinnesotaCare Premium Table, to be $37. In the child support guidelines worksheet, the CSM added the basic-support amount of $415 to the medical-support amount of $37 and arrived at total support obligation of $452.
The CSM noted that appellant had been ordered to pay child support of $432.85 per month in the decree and that the obligation has increased to $512 per month based on cost-of-living adjustments. The CSM concluded that, because appellant's child-support obligation as calculated according to his current circumstances is not 20% or $75 lower than the current support obligation, "there has not been a substantial change in circumstances that renders the existing child support order unreasonable and unfair." The CSM denied the request to modify the basic child-support obligation and granted the request to modify the medical-support obligation. This appeal follows.
The standards for reviewing a CSM's decision are the same as if the decision had been made by a district court. Ludwigson v. Ludwigson, 642 N.W.2d 441, 445–46 (Minn.App. 2002). A district court "enjoys broad discretion in ordering modifications to child support orders." Putz v. Putz, 645 N.W.2d 343, 347 (Minn. 2002). A district court's order regarding child support should be reversed only if the reviewing court is "convinced that the district court abused its broad ...