In re the Marriage of: Kathryn M. Goodyear f/k/a Kathryn M. PeKarna, petitioner, Appellant,
Matthew Dewitt PeKarna, Respondent.
Carver County District Court File No. 10-FA-03-335.
John G. Westrick, Nathan T. Griffin, Westrick & McDowall-Nix, P.L.L.P., St. Paul, Minnesota (for appellant)
Peter J. Horejsi, Peter J. Horejsi, PLLC, Bloomington, Minnesota (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Ross, Presiding Judge; Bjorkman, Judge; and Minge, Judge.
In this child-custody and -support dispute, appellant argues that the district court (1) abused its discretion by modifying child support effective to a date before respondent requested modification; (2) abused its discretion by denying her custody-modification motion; and (3) should have made specific findings on the issue of the children's Roth IRA college-fund accounts. Because the law does not permit retroactive modification of child support to a period of time before a modification motion is filed, the district court abused its discretion by doing so. But because we conclude that the district court's determinations are otherwise sound, we affirm as modified.
In 2005, the marriage between appellant Kathryn Goodyear (mother) and respondent Matthew PeKarna (father) was dissolved. The dissolution judgment granted father sole legal and physical custody of the parties' two children, and mother was ordered to pay child support, one-half of the children's unreimbursed medical expenses, and one-half of their school tuition and expenses. The parties' daughter turned 18 in February 2013. Their son is 17 years old. Father and the children currently reside in Minnesota; mother lives in Texas.
Mother's child-support obligation was initially set in the dissolution judgment based on her reported net monthly income of $7, 227 as a self-employed consultant. The judgment obligated her to inform father of any change in her employment. Father requested current tax returns from mother several times with no response. In October 2012, mother disclosed for the first time that she began working at Optum, a division of United Healthcare Group, in 2010 and earned over $140, 000 in wages that year. On January 28, 2013, father brought a motion to modify mother's child-support obligation based on her newly disclosed income.
In response, mother moved to modify custody of their son (the child), arguing that transferring custody to her would be in the child's best interests and in accord with his preferences, and requesting a neutral interview of the child. She also alleged that father depleted the money in the children's Roth IRA accounts, and requested an order appointing an independent administrator for the accounts and requiring father to repay the missing funds.
The district court granted father's motion, making mother's new monthly child-support obligation of $1, 631 effective as of January 1, 2010, and denied mother's motion without an evidentiary hearing. Mother requested permission to seek reconsideration of the provision in the dissolution judgment that required father to obtain health insurance for the children. The district court denied mother's request because she did not raise the issue in her original motion. This appeal follows.
The district court abused its discretion by making mother's new child-
support obligation retroactive to a date prior to service of ...