STACY R. DELLIT, Appellant (Respondent),
JOSHUA M. TRACY, Appellee (Petitioner)
Appeal from the District Court of Sheridan County. The Honorable John G. Fenn, Judge.
Representing Appellant: Greg L. Goddard of Goddard and Vogel, P.C., Buffalo, Wyoming.
Representing Appellee: Kevin K. Kessner of Yonkee & Toner, LLP, Sheridan, Wyoming.
Before BURKE, C.J., and HILL, DAVIS, FOX, and KAUTZ, JJ.
[¶1] Mother, Stacy Dellit, appeals a district court order modifying the child support obligations of Father, Joshua Tracy. She contends that the district court abused its discretion by ordering Father to pay less than the statutory presumptive amount. We affirm.
[¶2] Did the district court abuse its discretion when it deviated downward from Father's presumptive child support obligation?
[¶3] The parties, who never married, are the parents of two minor children born in 2006 and 2008. Father and Mother remained together for a period of time after both children were born, but eventually separated in 2009. As a result, Father filed a petition to establish custody and visitation. The parties came to an agreement and filed a stipulated order establishing custody and visitation, which was entered by the district court later that year. The stipulated order provided that they had joint legal custody and shared physical custody.
[¶4] Father and Mother briefly reconciled in 2010, which resulted in the district court entering a stipulated order to suspend child support. Unfortunately, their efforts at reconciliation were unsuccessful, and the relationship came to an end. In 2012, the district court entered a stipulated order for modification of child support which required Father to pay child support of $182.00 per month, half of the children's day care costs and half of their school expenses. The child support amount was based on the parties'
agreement that they were exercising shared custody. In 2013, the district court also entered an additional stipulated order regarding health insurance. This order required Mother to be the insuring parent and for her to obtain employment-related insurance for the children. It also required that any medical costs not covered by insurance be split equally between the parties.
[¶5] In 2014, Mother decided to move from Wyoming to Georgia. This led Father to file a petition to modify custody, support and visitation, in which he claimed that the move constituted a material change in circumstances warranting modification. Mother responded, inter alia, that she actually had primary physical custody of the children, and that therefore there was no material change in circumstances. She also requested that the district court order Father to pay child support in accordance with the presumptive child support guidelines which apply when one parent (her) has primary physical custody.
[¶6] The matter proceeded to an evidentiary hearing on the petition to modify, at which point Mother notified the court that she no longer planned to move out of state. Custody and visitation issues consequently became moot, requiring that the court decide only whether Mother was entitled to support under the guidelines applicable when one parent has primary physical custody.
[¶7] The district court found that the existing custody arrangement was in fact not shared as the previous stipulated orders mistakenly indicated, and that Mother did indeed have primary custody based upon the number of nights that the parties had the children overnight per year. The evidence established Mother had the children overnight for 232 nights of the year, which is 64% of the time, and Father had the children overnight for 133 nights of the year, or 36% of the time.
[¶8] Based upon the evidence concerning the parties' earnings and the fact that Mother had primary custody, the district court determined:
o As defined by Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 20-2-303, the net monthly incomes of the parties were: Mother-$1,311.66; Father-$3,827.44.
o Pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 20-2-304(a), the joint presumptive child support amount for the two children would be $1,405.76.
o As a result of the parties' current custody arrangement, Father's presumptive child support obligation to Mother ...