Thomas J. Boll, petitioner, Appellant,
Rosemary Bryan, Respondent,
Hennepin County District Court File No. 27-PA-FA-000044919.
Craig E. Shriver, Law Office of Craig E. Shriver, White Bear Lake, Minnesota (for appellant).
Rosemary Bryan, Cornwall, England (pro se respondent).
Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Theresa Farrell-Strauss, Assistant County Attorney, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for respondent county)
Considered and decided by Stoneburner, Presiding Judge; Hudson, Judge; and Hooten, Judge.
Appellant-father challenges the district court's order denying his motion to reduce his child-support obligation and granting respondent-county's motion to increase his obligation. He argues that the district court understated the gross income of respondent-mother by omitting foreign public assistance based on need or, in the alternative, by not attributing potential income to her. On this record, we affirm the district court's exclusion of the public assistance from mother's gross income but conclude that the district court erred in failing to consider potential income. Therefore, we affirm in part and remand.
Appellant-father Thomas J. Boll and respondent-mother Rosemary Bryan have one minor child together. Boll and Bryan agreed that Bryan would have sole-physical and legal custody of the child, and Bryan and the child later moved to England.
In May 2012, respondent Hennepin County intervened and moved to increase Boll's monthly child-support obligation. The county asserted that Boll's income had increased and noted that Bryan receives public assistance, a child tax credit, and a child benefit in England. Referring to Bryan's public assistance as a "jobseeker's allowance, " the county asked that that assistance be excluded from her income and that Boll's monthly support obligation be increased from $434 to $596.
Boll then moved to reduce his monthly support obligation to $294, disputing Bryan's income and asserting that she is voluntarily unemployed. At an evidentiary hearing before a child support magistrate (CSM), Boll asserted that, in order to remain unemployed and continue receiving public assistance, Bryan rejected employment opportunities. He asserted that the CSM should attribute potential income to her. The county responded that the public assistance that Bryan receives in England is "the equivalent of TANF" (Temporary Assistance to Need Families) and should not be treated as income for purposes of setting support. Bryan explained that the assistance she receives is "for people that are unemployed, that are not working, and are a single, lone parent." She affirmed that she has no other sources of income and is not seeking full-time employment but only part-time work as a teacher.
The CSM denied Boll's motion and granted the county's motion, finding that Bryan receives public assistance for herself and the child because she is unemployed and that Boll failed to establish that Bryan's public assistance is income for purposes of determining child support. The CSM also ruled that Boll failed to establish that potential income should be attributed to Bryan when her only income is public assistance. Boll ...