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Childs v. Childs

Supreme Court of Alaska

October 11, 2013

Joshua CHILDS, Appellant,
v.
Christina CHILDS, Appellee.

Page 956

Joshua Childs, Fort Polk, Louisiana, pro se, Appellant.

Christina Childs, Fairbanks, pro se, Appellee.

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

OPINION

FABE, Chief Justice.

I. INTRODUCTION

A mother and father of two minor children dissolved their marriage in 2005. The mother was awarded sole legal and physical custody of the children and the father was ordered to pay child support. The father then joined the United States Army in 2006. Five years later, the mother filed a motion to modify the standing child support award, seeking to increase the father's support obligation due to an increase in his income. Although the first notice of the motion that the mother sent to the father was procedurally defective, after the superior court notified the mother of the defects, she sent a corrected notice. The father did not respond to the motion to modify until the superior court informed him that it was prepared to award child support in the amount requested by the mother if the father did not file an opposition. The father then opposed the motion, providing his relevant pay stubs, W-2s, and tax returns. He also argued that the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act protected him from adverse civil actions because he was actively serving in the United States Army and contended that the mother had not properly served him with notice of the modification proceeding. Finally, he maintained that the superior court should deduct the Basic Allowance for Housing that the father received as a servicemember from his income calculation. The superior court modified the parties' child support award

Page 957

without holding a hearing, ordering the father to pay increased child support.

The father now appeals, raising three arguments. He first contends that he was entitled to a stay of the child support modification proceeding under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. But because he did not qualify for a stay under the Act, and because he actively participated in the proceeding, the superior court did not abuse its discretion in declining to issue a stay.

The father next contends that his right to due process was violated because the mother did not use certified mail to serve him and because the superior court ordered modification of child support without first holding a hearing. But there was no due process violation: The mother's corrected service of process satisfied the Alaska Rules of Civil Procedure, the father had ample notice of the proceeding, and a hearing was not required in this case because there were no facts in dispute.

The father finally argues that the superior court abused its discretion in calculating his child support obligation to include his Basic Allowance for Housing. But the superior court correctly included the military housing allowance in the father's adjusted income as Alaska Civil Rule 90.3 directs.

We thus affirm the superior court's decisions in all respects.

II. FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS

Joshua and Christina Childs were married in Alaska in 2002. After dissolving their marriage in 2005, Joshua and Christina decided that Christina would have sole legal and physical custody of their two minor children. A December 2005 child support order required Joshua to pay Christina $540.85 per month in support for both children.

Joshua began serving in the United States Army in 2006. He served a tour of combat duty in Afghanistan from June 27 to September 30, 2011. After returning from Afghanistan, ...


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