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Villars v. Villars

Supreme Court of Alaska

July 19, 2013

Olga H. VILLARS, Appellant,
v.
Richard J. VILLARS, Appellee.

Page 322

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 323

Olga H. Villars, pro se, Solana Beach, California, Appellant.

Richard J. Villars, pro se, Marrero, Louisiana, Appellee.

Before: FABE, Chief Justice, CARPENETI, WINFREE, STOWERS, and MAASSEN, Justices.

OPINION

MAASSEN, Justice.

I. INTRODUCTION

Olga Villars sued her former husband, Richard Villars, for his failure to pay spousal support during the year 2010. Following a trial at which both parties appeared telephonically and pro se, the trial court ruled that the amount Richard owed Olga had to be reduced to account for (1) the smaller size of her household while her daughter was living with Richard, (2) the lower federal poverty level in California, where Olga had moved, (3) the substantial contributions for support Olga received from her second husband, and (4) Olga's earned income. On appeal, Olga challenges these rulings and certain aspects of the trial procedure. Because we find that the trial court clearly erred in its calculation of the amount of support contributed by Olga's second husband, we remand for further consideration of this issue while affirming on all others.

II. BACKGROUND

A. Facts

Richard and Olga were married in December 2004 in Kiev, Ukraine. Olga moved to Alaska in July 2005 with her minor daughter, Linda, to be with Richard. As Olga's immigration sponsor, Richard filed an INS Form I-864 affidavit of support, in which he agreed to maintain Olga and Linda " at an income that is at least 125 percent of the Federal poverty guidelines." [1]

Richard and Olga divorced on January 12, 2009. Their divorce decree incorporated Richard's support obligations under his I-864 affidavit and calculated monthly payments based on the federal poverty level for a two-person household in Alaska.

On February 22, 2009, Olga and Linda moved to California. There Olga married George Nasif on October 18, 2009. Olga's daughter Linda moved to Louisiana to live with Richard from December 2009 until June 14, 2010, under a temporary guardianship agreement.

Olga's home life was unsettled during 2010, the only year at issue here. She and George maintained separate residences for much of the year; at one point George secured a restraining order against her. Olga was evicted from her apartment in April and moved into a motel, where she lived for several months until moving into another apartment with George and Linda. Olga's marriage to George was annulled in November 2010.

Richard did not make any support payments to Olga for the first eleven months of 2010. Olga filed a motion in Alaska to enforce the divorce decree, and Richard made payments for December 2010 and January 2011 pursuant to a temporary support order. His obligations for the first eleven months of 2010 were resolved at trial.

B. Proceedings

Trial was held in superior court in Fairbanks in February 2011; both parties attended telephonically. After hearing from Richard, Olga, and George, the court made written findings of fact and conclusions of law. The court first ruled that Richard's 2010 support payments should be determined by the federal poverty level in California, not Alaska. The court ruled further that the payments would be determined by the federal poverty level for a single-person household, not a two-person household, for the months Linda was living with Richard. Finally, the court ruled that Richard's support obligation ...


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