APPEAL FROM: District Court of the Thirteenth Judicial District, In and For the County of Yellowstone, Cause No. DR 03-1025 Honorable G. Todd Baugh, Presiding Judge
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael E Wheat
Submitted on Briefs: November 14, 2012
Decided: January 29, 2013
Justice Michael E Wheat delivered the Opinion of the Court.
¶1 Pursuant to Section I, Paragraph 3(d), Montana Supreme Court Internal Operating Rules, this case is decided by memorandum opinion and shall not be cited and does not serve as precedent. Its case title, cause number, and disposition shall be included in this Court's quarterly list of noncitable cases published in the Pacific Reporter and Montana Reports.
¶2 Dustin Rahn appeals from an order entered by the Thirteenth Judicial District Court, Yellowstone County, denying his motion to reduce child support payments. We affirm.
¶3 On September 4, 2003, the District Court entered a final decree of dissolution in the marriage of Dustin Rahn (Dustin) and Cari Cantwell (Cari). The parties have one minor child together. The final decree provided that Dustin would pay $669 per month in child support, as established by the Montana Child Support Enforcement Division (CSED). This amount was modified to $358 per month on December 20, 2005.
¶4 In 2006, Dustin was sentenced to prison. Six years later, on May 15, 2012, Dustin filed a motion to reduce his child support payments. In his motion, Dustin asserted that he was unable to pay the $358 per month in child support and was $24,000 in arrears. He maintained he puts 50% of his prison wages toward child support, which he claimed prevented him from being able to save any money and prepare for a successful re-entry into society when he leaves prison. Dustin asked the court to reduce his monthly child support payment and apply it retroactively to the date he began his prison sentence.
¶5 In response to Dustin's motion, Cari relied on § 40-4-208(2)(b)(i), MCA, and Mooney v. Brennan, 257 Mont. 197, 848 P.2d 1020 (1993), to argue against a modification in child support. She stated that pursuant to Montana law, incarceration is not a changed circumstance "so substantial and continuing . . . as to make an existing child support order 'unconscionable,'" and a modification is therefore not permitted. Further, Cari challenged Dustin's contention that he paid child support on a monthly basis, and attached a document from the CSED Payment Information website that indicated Dustin had paid child support on only one occasion since 2008. Finally, Cari claimed the motion was frivolous and therefore requested costs and attorney's fees.
¶6 On June 4, 2012, the District Court denied Dustin's motion to reduce his child support payments. In its order, the court explained that "being in prison is not a sufficient reason to reduce one's child support obligation." The court did not award Cari costs and attorney's fees. Dustin appeals.
¶7 We review a district court's decision regarding modifications to child support to determine whether the court abused its discretion. In re Marriage of Kovash, 270 Mont. 517, 521, 893 P.2d 860, 863 (1995) (citing In re Marriage of Hill, 265 Mont. 52, 57, 874 P.2d 705, 707 (1994)). We review a district court's conclusions of law to determine whether the court's interpretation of law was correct. Marriage of Kovash, 270 ...