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In re Marriage of Shearer

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

February 27, 2017

In re the Marriage of: Justin David Shearer, petitioner, Appellant,
v.
Mandy Jane Shearer, Respondent.

         Washington County District Court File No. 82-FA-13-1626

          Douglas J. Mentes, St. Paul, Minnesota (for appellant)

          David K. Meier, Samuel S. Stalsberg, Sjoberg & Tebelius, P.A., Woodbury, Minnesota (for respondent)

          Considered and decided by Kirk, Presiding Judge; Halbrooks, Judge; and Rodenberg, Judge.

         SYLLABUS

         A district court does not err when, on motion, it modifies a parenting-time arrangement based on a finding that the modification would be in the children's best interests and the modification does not restrict parenting time.

          OPINION

          RODENBERG, Judge

         Appellant-father appeals the district court's order modifying both the parenting-time provision of a judgment and decree of dissolution and the monthly child support to which he and respondent-mother stipulated, resulting in that judgment and decree. Father argues that the district court erred in modifying the parenting-time arrangement based on a best-interests finding, and in modifying child support to conform to the parents' exercise of parenting time and not the parenting time designated in the judgment and decree. Because we hold that a district court's finding concerning the best interests of the children is a sufficient basis to modify parenting time where the modification does not restrict either parent's time with the children, we affirm the district court's modification of the parties' parenting-time arrangement. But because the district court did not calculate the parenting-time expense adjustment according to the allocation of parenting time set forth in the judgment and decree, we reverse that modification and remand to the district court.

         FACTS

         Justin David Shearer (father) and Mandy Jane Shearer (mother) married on August 4, 2002. In 2004, twin children were born to the couple. On March 13, 2013, father petitioned for dissolution of the marriage. On March 16, 2013, the parties signed a document entitled Stipulated Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, Order for Judgment and Judgment and Decree, drafted by father's attorney. Mother was unrepresented.

         Related to this appeal, the parties agreed in 2013 that it was in the best interests of their children that the parents "share permanent joint physical and joint legal custody of their children" and agreed that parenting time would be shared equally between them and scheduled to coincide with father's work schedule. Father works as a pilot for a commercial airline and is "able to bid for the times that he will work." Because he bids for a flight schedule on a monthly basis, his schedule varies monthly. His work requires that he be out of state for extended periods during which he cannot supervise the children. The parties stipulated:

Since separation, the parties have exercised a parenting time schedule in which [father] exercises parenting time with the children while he is not working, and staying at home. [Mother] exercises parenting time while [father] is working and out of town. The parties agree this permanent schedule is in the best interests of their children. The parties agree this schedule is a schedule in which they share equal parenting time of their children.

         The parents also agreed on a relatively detailed holiday and vacation schedule, under which the children would each spend approximately half of the specified holidays with each parent, and each parent would be entitled to take a two-week vacation with the children each year.

         The parties also agreed in their stipulation that father would pay child support of $1, 187 per month, less mother's health-care contributions. This figure took into account the parents' respective shares of the Parental Income for determining Child Support (PICS)-79% for father and 21% for mother-and adjusted the child-support with a parenting-time expense adjustment appropriate for evenly split parenting time.

         In May 2013, the district court accepted the parties' agreement and entered a judgment and decree with the stipulated language, ordering father to pay monthly child support ...


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