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In re Marriage of Scofield

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

August 19, 2013

In re the Marriage of: Paul David Scofield, petitioner, Appellant,
v.
Leisa C. Scofield, Respondent.

UNPUBLISHED OPINION

Hennepin County District Court File No. 27-FA-000278762

Andrew J. Laufers, Cordell and Cordell, P.C, Edina, Minnesota (for appellant)

Susan A. Daudelin, Mackall, Crounse & Moore, PLC, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for respondent)

Considered and decided by Bjorkman, Presiding Judge; Ross, Judge; and Willis, Judge [*]

BJORKMAN, Judge

Appellant challenges the district court's modification of his spousal-maintenance and child-support obligations, arguing that the district court abused its discretion (1) in setting his spousal-maintenance and child-support obligations, (2) by not imputing $40, 000 of income to respondent, and (3) by not conducting an evidentiary hearing. We affirm.

FACTS

On November 3, 2004, the 19-year marriage between appellant Paul Scofield (father) and respondent Leisa Scofield (mother) was dissolved. The dissolution judgment granted the parties joint legal custody of their three minor children. Mother retained sole physical custody of the children, and father had parenting time every Wednesday overnight and every other weekend.

At the time of the dissolution, father's gross monthly income was $9, 111. Mother was a homemaker with the ability to earn a gross monthly income of $1, 646.67. Father's presumptive child-support obligation was $1, 884.66. But given the children's needs and the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage, the district court deviated upward, setting father's support obligation at $2, 384.65.

It is undisputed that the parties did not have sufficient income to maintain their marital standard of living. Accordingly, the district court concluded that it was fair and equitable for the parties to share the shortfall. The district court determined that father's reasonable expenses were $2, 463.78 (down from $3, 714.10 under the marital standard of living) and mother's reasonable expenses were $3, 938.91 (down from $5, 488.76). Although mother needed $1, 027.95 in maintenance to meet her reduced expenses, the judgment set father's spousal-maintenance obligation at $536.30—his remaining income after paying his child-support obligation and expenses.[1]

On June 3, 2009, the district court reduced father's monthly child-support obligation to $1, 000 and temporarily suspended spousal maintenance because father lost his job. At that time mother was working for a school district and expected to be employed as a special-education teacher with a $40, 000 annual salary by fall 2009.

On October 26, 2011, the district court issued an order modifying father's spousal-maintenance and child-support obligations. The parties still did not have sufficient income to maintain the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage. Father's gross monthly income was $8, 124, and his reasonable monthly expenses were $3, 491. Mother's gross monthly income was $2, 228; her reasonable expenses were $3, 243, creating a need of $1, 015. Mother was close to receiving a master's degree in education and had a special-education teaching license but was unable to find full-time employment in that field. The district court ordered father to pay $1, 015 per month in spousal maintenance for 12 months and $1, 932 in child support. The order reduced father's monthly child-support obligation to $1, 563 as of February 1, 2012, following the emancipation of the parties' oldest child.

On April 6, 2012, the district court ordered equal parenting time pursuant to the parties' agreement. Father subsequently moved to reduce his child-support and spousal-maintenance obligations, arguing the court should impute $40, 000 of income to mother based on her failure to obtain a full-time teaching position. A hearing was scheduled for September 10. Mother moved to increase father's obligations and to establish medical support[2] but subsequently requested that the hearing be rescheduled. Rather than setting a new hearing date, the district court ...


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