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Myrick v. Skolrud

Supreme Court of Montana

December 27, 2016

APRIL DAWN MYRICK, n/k/a APRIL BLOCK, Petitioner and Appellant,
v.
JASON ALLAN SKOLRUD, Respondent and Appellee.

          Submitted on Briefs: November 10, 2016

         District Court of the Seventeenth Judicial District, In and For the County of Valley, Cause No. DR-04-29 Honorable John C. McKeon, Presiding Judge

          For Appellant: Lindsay A. Lorang, Lorang Law, PC, Havre, Montana.

          For Appellee: Jason Allan Skolrud, self-represented, Clancy, Montana.

          OPINION

          Jim Rice Justice.

         ¶1 Appellant April Dawn Myrick, n/k/a April Block (April), appeals the order of the Seventeenth Judicial District Court, Valley County, which reduced the child support obligation of Respondent Jason Allan Skolrud (Jason), from $679 per month to $200 per month. We affirm and address the following issue:

         Did the District Court err by ordering a reduction in the support obligation for the parties' child?

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         ¶2 This appeal is part of an ongoing parenting and child support proceeding that has continuously been before the District Court since 2004. April and Jason have a minor son together, known in these proceedings as K.A.S. Primary custody, physical time, and child support for K.A.S. have changed several times since 2004.

         ¶3 On September 3, 2014, April and Jason entered into the current parenting plan, which assigned to April the primary physical custody of K.A.S. The plan provided that "[c]hild support shall be paid as ordered by the Child Support Enforcement Division [(CSED)]." April petitioned CSED for recalculation of the child support obligation between the two parents. The CSED proceeding was limited to recalculating the child support based upon the change in parenting time under the new agreement, and other evidence about the parties' situation was not considered. CSED issued a final order on June 11, 2015, eliminating April's $48 monthly support obligation and imposing a $679 monthly support obligation on Jason. Jason was also ordered to pay an arrearage of approximately $2, 000 in $104 monthly installments, setting his new child support payment at $783 per month.

         ¶4 On July 15, 2015, Jason filed a motion for judicial modification of the CSED order. Alleging he lacked sufficient resources to pay $679 per month, Jason requested a reduction to $200 per month. Jason is married and resides near his place of employment with his wife, Angela, and their four children (in addition to K.A.S.). Three of those children are Angela's that Jason has adopted, and the fourth child is Jason and Angela's together. Angela has historically contributed between $1, 000 and $1, 900 per month to the family income from her part-time employment as a nurse, with the specific monthly amount depending upon the medical facility's need for her services. However, Angela's 12-year-old son has significant health issues, and the licensed psychologist treating the boy advised her to quit her nursing job, which she did in March of 2015. The District Court found that these health issues were "not likely to change in the immediately foreseeable future."

         ¶5 At the hearing on the motion, Jason presented evidence concerning his current income and his family's monthly household expenses, including mortgage, home utilities, clothing, food, educational expenses, vehicle fuel and maintenance, insurance, and medical bills. Jason testified, and the District Court found, that he and Angela "have had to borrow money from respective family members to assist with meeting their monthly expenses and are making $50.00 per month payments to maintain these loans."

         ¶6 The District Court concluded that, while Jason's child support is correctly calculated to be $679 per month under the CSED guidelines, the "change in circumstances noted herein give good and justifiable reason to vary from those guidelines." The court determined that, with "budgeting and appropriate adjustment of monthly expenses, " Jason would be able to pay $200 per month in child support. The District Court ordered:

Effective July 15, 2015 (the date Jason filed his motion to modify), Jason's child support obligation to April is reduced to $200.00 per month. Should the health condition of the 12 year old minor child of Jason and Angela change so Angela can obtain either full-time or part-time ...

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