Appeal from the District Court of Park County, The Honorable Steven R. Cranfill, Judge.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Golden, Justice.
Before VOIGT, C.J., and GOLDEN, HILL, KITE, BURKE, JJ.
GOLDEN, J., delivers the opinion of the Court; HILL, J., files a dissenting opinion.
[¶1] Lisa Lauderman, (Mother) and Russell Nomura (Father) have one child. The Department of Family Services (DFS) filed a motion to modify child support. After a hearing, the district court reduced Father‟s child support obligation. Mother appeals. We affirm.
[¶2] Mother presents multiple issues, but they can be reduced into two main issues. First, Mother argues the district court abused its discretion in calculating the parties‟ respective incomes. Second, Mother argues the district court abused its discretion in admitting certain letters into evidence.
[¶3] Mother and Father never married but they had one child together in 1999. Mother has always had custody of the child. In 2004, Father‟s child support obligation was set at $263.00 per week. In early 2007, Father fell $3,419.00 in arrears. He paid the arrears in full. In November 2007, DFS filed a Petition for Modification of Child Support.
[¶4] The district court held an evidentiary hearing on the Petition. After the hearing, the district court made the following findings:
3. At the time of the trial in this matter, the Respondent, Lauderman, was the mother of two (2) minor children, the child at issue who is nine (9) years of age, and an infant daughter born in June, 2009. She was employed at L & H Industrial, Inc., as a welder from May, 2007 until her termination in November, 2007, as a result of her pregnancy.
4. At the time of the trial in this matter, the Respondent, Nomura, was a self-employed dry waller operating his own business referred to as RNR Drywall, Inc. Mr. Nomura is the sole officer and shareholder of the business.
5. Respondent Lauderman should be imputed a net income as she is voluntarily unemployed. The Court should impute her income from prior years and based on her 2007 W-2. The fact that she is a stay-at-home mother should have no bearing on the imputed income.
6. Respondent Lauderman is capable of earning $16.00 per hour and her income is based on the following calculations:
$33,280.00 Gross income ($16.00 x 2080 hours per year) -$0.00 Federal income (tax credits are higher than taxes owed) -$2,053.00 Social Security -$483.00 Medicare
$30,744.00 annual net income (does not include tax credits)
Divided by 12 months = $2,562.00 net monthly income
7. Respondent Nomura‟s net monthly income is based upon his 2008 actual earnings and his earning capability in the future, rather than what he earned during more prosperous economic times.
8. To use Respondent Nomura‟s prior years‟ income would result in imputing a net income that would result in an impossibly high child support obligation and would set this party up for failure. Therefore, 2008 is the only year that should be used to determine the Respondent Nomura‟s net monthly income.
9. Respondent Nomura‟s net monthly income is derived from using this net revenues from RNR Drywall in the amount of $21,518.05. This is the amount of actual money that was available to Nomura from the business during 2008. This amount is derived by adding the operating income of $5,076.78, plus the income from the sale of an asset (truck) in the amount of $16,441.27.
10. The health insurance of $2,256.38 should be added back in and counted towards the Respondent Nomura‟s net income as his net revenues from the business were reduced by this ...