Earth County District Court File No. 07-FA-14-3679
M. Birkholz, Birkholz & Associates, LLC, Mankato,
Minnesota (for appellant)
Stephanie Elizabeth Devens, Rock Hill, South Carolina (pro se
Maes, Julia Craig, Southern Minnesota Regional Legal
Services, Inc., Mankato, Minnesota (for respondent Joanne
Considered and decided by Reilly, Presiding Judge; Halbrooks,
Judge; and Reyes, Judge.
district court awards a father, mother, and grandmother joint
physical custody of a child, the presumptively appropriate
guideline basic support obligation is calculated based on the
parents' combined parental income for child support
(PICS) under Minn. Stat. § 518A.35, subd. 1(b) (2016),
and not the parents' individual PICS under Minn. Stat.
§ 518A.35, subd. 1(c) (2016).
challenges the district court's decision to deny his
motion to modify child support, arguing that the district
court erred as a matter of law by concluding that
father's child is not "in the custody of"
father for purposes of Minn. Stat. § 518A.35, subd.
1(c). We reverse and remand for recalculation of father's
child-support obligation using father and mother's
combined parental incomes under Minn. Stat. § 518A.35,
Jeremiah John Palmquist (father) and respondent Stephanie
Elizabeth Devens (mother) have one child together, L.D.P.
Father and mother never married, but father established
paternity through genetic testing. L.D.P. lives with
respondent maternal grandmother Joanne Mary Devens
(grandmother). Father and grandmother live in Minnesota.
Mother, who has a nonjoint child also living with
grandmother, lives in another state. Father and mother pay
child support to grandmother.
2014, father, mother, and grandmother reached an agreement on
custody and parenting time. Father prepared a proposed
stipulated order incorporating the facts and terms of the
parties' agreement. In 2015, the district court adopted
this stipulated order. The stipulated order provides that it
is in L.D.P.'s best interests that father, mother, and
grandmother "be granted joint legal custody" and
that it is in L.D.P.'s best interests that father,
mother, and grandmother "be granted joint physical
custody, subject to the parties' rights to reasonable
parenting time." The stipulated order provides that
father, mother, and grandmother are awarded joint legal and
joint physical custody of L.D.P. and that L.D.P.'s
"primary residence" is with grandmother. The
stipulated order also includes father's current
child-support obligation, which was calculated using father
and mother's combined parental incomes and by applying a
2016, father moved to modify parenting time, primary
residence, and child support. The parties stipulated to
increasing father's parenting time to at least 45.1% for
purposes of calculating child support and to keeping
L.D.P.'s primary residence with grandmother, but
disagreed on father's new child-support obligation, given
the increase in his parenting time. The district court
adopted the stipulation to increase father's parenting
time but reserved father's motion to modify child
hearing on father's motion, father argued that he is
entitled to a reduction in his child-support obligation due
to the increase in his parenting time. Grandmother opposed
the motion. The district court denied father's motion,
concluding that father's current child-support obligation
is not unreasonable and unfair. The district court explained
that father's current child-support obligation should
have been calculated using father's individual parental
income under Minn. Stat. § 518A.35, subd. 1(c), rather
than combined incomes under Minn. Stat. § 518A.35, subd.
1(b), because L.D.P. is not "in the custody of"
father. The district court reasoned that L.D.P. is not in the
custody of father because "[L.D.P.'s] primary
residence is with Grandmother and Father has parenting time
with the child less than 50 percent of the time." The
district court calculated father's child- support
obligation based on his increased parenting time using
father's individual parental income and determined that
it did not result in "a calculated support obligation .
. . that is at least 20 percent and at least $75 per month
lower than the ...