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Jensen v. Milatzo-Jensen

Supreme Court of Wyoming

December 17, 2014

BRANDON LEE JENSEN, Appellant (Plaintiff),
v.
MARGARET E. MILATZO-JENSEN, Appellee (Defendant)

Appeal from the District Court of Laramie County. The Honorable Thomas T.C. Campbell, Judge.

Representing Appellant: Brandon L. Jensen, Pro se, of Budd-Falen Law Offices, LLC, Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Representing Appellee: Douglas W. Bailey, of Bailey, Stock & Harmon, P.C., Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Before BURKE, C.J., and HILL, KITE, DAVIS, and FOX, JJ.

OPINION

Page 277

BURKE, Chief Justice.

[¶1] Appellant, Brandon Lee Jensen (Father), challenges the district court's decision to eliminate his right to claim abatement of child support owed to Appellee, Margaret E. Milatzo-Jensen (Mother). He also claims the district court abused its discretion in denying his claim for prejudgment interest on amounts owed by Mother for day-care expenses. We affirm.

ISSUES

[¶2] Father presents two issues:

1. Whether the district court erred in eliminating Father's right to claim abatements pursuant to Wyo. Stat. § 20-2-305; and
2. Whether the district court erred in denying prejudgment interest to Father for amounts owed by Mother.

FACTS

[¶3] The parties were married in 2003. The marriage produced one child, a daughter born in 2004. The parties divorced in May of 2007. Mother was awarded primary residential custody of the child, subject to Father's visitation. The divorce decree provided that " the parties shall each pay one-half of the monthly daycare costs, however, when [Father] begins making child support payments, he shall have no obligation to continue paying one-half daycare expenses." The parties subsequently entered a Joint Stipulation Modifying Child Visitation and Decree of Divorce which increased Father's extended visitation during the summer from two one-week periods to sixty days.

[¶4] In October, 2008, Mother filed a petition to modify Father's visitation. Before that petition was resolved, Father moved from Cheyenne, Wyoming to Wellington, Colorado. Following a hearing in March, 2011, the district court entered an Order Modifying Visitation. The court found a material change in circumstances based on Father's move to Colorado, as well as Father's conduct towards Mother. The court granted Mother's petition, eliminating Father's overnight weekday visitation. Father, however, continued to have the sixty-day summer visitation.

Page 278

The court also denied Father's request to modify child support and Father's requests for child support abatement. The court, however, partially granted Father's request for reimbursement of day-care expenses incurred while Father exercised visitation during the summer and ordered Mother to pay one-half of the day-care expenses.

[¶5] Father appealed and we addressed his challenge to the district court's Order Modifying Visitation in Jensen v. Milatzo-Jensen, 2013 WY 27, 297 P.3d 768 (Wyo. 2013). We affirmed the district court's modification of visitation and reversed the denial of Father's requests for child support abatement. We also held that the " district court abused its discretion by only partially reimbursing Father for day-care expenses because the divorce decree did not require Father to pay any day-care expenses while he was paying child support." Id., ¶ 39, 297 P.3d at 780.

[¶6] In September, 2013, Father filed a motion requesting that the district court enter judgment against Mother for unpaid day-care expenses incurred by Father. Father's motion also included a request for prejudgment interest. In response, Mother filed a motion to modify the divorce decree as it related to day-care expenses. In her motion, Mother contended that Father was seeking reimbursement for expenses that were not " day-care expenses" within the meaning of the decree. She also contended that she could not afford to pay the " day-care" expenses incurred by Father. She requested that the decree be modified to define " day-care" expenses. She also requested that Father be required to bear all day-care expenses during his summer visitation.

[¶7] Following a hearing, the district court entered its Order on Pending Motions on December 12, 2013. The court granted Father's outstanding claims for child support abatement and limited Mother's annual liability for day-care expenses to $1,772.52.[1] The court also ruled that Father " may not claim child support abatements for any period [Father] is receiving day-care reimbursements from [Mother]." Additionally, the court denied Father's request for entry of judgment on the past due expenses ...


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