Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Fredrickson v. Button

Supreme Court of Alaska

September 14, 2018

SHELLEY FREDRICKSON, Appellant,
v.
FOREST J. BUTTON, Appellee.

          Appeal from the Superior Court No. 3AN-13-04681 CI of the State of Alaska, Third Judicial District, Anchorage, Erin B. Marston, Judge.

          Allison Mendel, Mendel Colbert & Associates, Inc., Anchorage, for Appellant.

          Maurice N. Ellis, Law Office of Maurice N. Ellis, Anchorage, for Appellee.

          Before: Stowers, Chief Justice, Winfree, Maassen, and Bolger, Justices. [Fabe and Carney, Justices, not participating.]

          OPINION

          STOWERS, Chief Justice.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Forest Button and Shelley Fredrickson never married, but they had one child together. Button and Fredrickson separated in September 2006. From September 2006 until January 2013 neither sought a formal custody order or a child support order. Instead, they had an informal arrangement to share their son's expenses. Button filed a complaint for custody in January 2013. The parties participated in a settlement conference and entered into an agreement resolving all custody issues, but the parties reserved issues of prospective and retrospective child support for later resolution by the court.

         The superior court found that Fredrickson was the obligor parent from September 2006 through August 2010, and calculated her child support obligation based on Alaska Civil Rule 90.3. The court then used the shared custody child support rules in Rule 90.3 to calculate the parties' respective child support obligations from September 2010 until 2013. For purposes of these calculations the court included as income $300, 000 Fredrickson received from the Japanese government in connection with the death of her brother, who died in the 2011 Japanese tsunami. The court also calculated a prospective child support award. It found that from 2014 onward Fredrickson had been voluntarily unemployed, and it imputed income to her to calculate this prospective award. Following the court's orders, Button filed a motion for attorney's fees, which the court granted.

         Fredrickson appeals. We hold that (1) the court's finding that the money from the Japanese government was paid out in three annual installments was clearly erroneous; (2) there is insufficient evidence to determine whether the money should be considered income for purposes of calculating a retrospective child support award; (3) the court did not err in finding that a deviation from retrospective child support calculations under Rule 90.3 was unwarranted; and (4) the court's decisions to impute income to Fredrickson and not to impute income to Button were not clearly erroneous.

         II. FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS

         A. Facts

         Forest Button and Shelley Fredrickson never married, but they had one son in 2003. Button and Fredrickson lived together from November 2002 until they separated in September 2006.

         From September 2006 until Button filed his complaint for child custody in January 2013 neither party sought a formal custody order. Instead, upon separation they agreed to a schedule where Fredrickson cared for their son every Saturday when she finished work until his bedtime the following Monday - at that time, Fredrickson worked as a delivery driver five days a week, beginning at 5 a.m. - and Button cared for him the rest of the week. Fredrickson also had visitation on Thursday evenings. In 2010 Fredrickson's brother volunteered to care for their son when Fredrickson was at work in the early mornings. Button and Fredrickson later agreed to a week-on/week-off schedule, beginning in the summer of 2010.

         There was no child support order in effect from 2006 until 2014; the first child support order was the superior court's Order Regarding Child Support Payments, one of the orders at issue in this appeal. Before the litigation began the parties had an informal agreement to share their son's expenses, and they executed an agreement providing that neither party owed the other child support. After moving out of their shared home Fredrickson made monthly payments of $660 to Button to cover their son's expenses. Fredrickson also included their son on her medical insurance as a dependent, and she paid the co-pays related to his medical needs. Fredrickson also paid for his other activities, such as karate classes, swimming lessons, and football team expenses. In the spring of 2007 Fredrickson stopped paying Button a fixed dollar amount, but continued to pay some of their son's expenses directly.

         In March 2011 Fredrickson's younger brother went missing in Japan; he had been killed in the 2011 tsunami. Fredrickson quit her delivery job when her brother went missing. She testified that she was unable to work due to her grief and depression. In early 2012 Fredrickson felt well enough to work part-time as a bartender and also became heavily involved in charity work.

         Fredrickson worked as a bartender for less than a year, working one to two days per week at the beginning of the year and three to four days per week toward the end of the year. Since leaving her bartender position Fredrickson has not worked for pay, instead appearing to support herself mainly from payments issued from a family trust - the annual amount she received from this trust varied from year to year, and Fredrickson had no control over the amount or timing of the distributions - and from a $300, 000 payment she received from the Japanese government in 2012 relating to her brother's death. At the time of trial Fredrickson still had approximately $200, 000 of the Japanese government funds, and she planned to put the money toward a nonprofit she hoped to start "to help organizations in Japan in [her brother's] memory."

         In 2012 Fredrickson also began thinking about returning to school to study nursing. She did not feel that bartending or truck driving was something she had a passion for, because her brother's death caused her to realize that she wanted to do something to make a difference. It was also difficult for her to find childcare for her son because of her hours while working in bartending and truck driving.

         Since the parties' separation Button has received income from rentals, a consulting business, employment, a time share, and the sale of a duplex; he also has received income as well as large losses from stock trading. Button's income varied greatly from year to year between 2006 and 2013.[1]

         B. Proceedings

         Button filed a complaint for custody in January 2013. The parties participated in a settlement conference in June. Button was represented by counsel during that conference but Fredrickson was not. During the conference the parties entered into an agreement resolving all custody issues. The final agreement specified that the parties would exercise joint legal custody and shared physical custody of their son, and the parties agreed to a week-on/week-off schedule. The parties also agreed to bear their own attorney's fees and costs. The court approved the settlement in November 2013.

         However, Button also raised issues related to prospective and retrospective child support at the settlement conference. The parties reserved those issues for later resolution by the court. Superior Court Judge Erin B. Marston conducted a trial on the child support issues in June 2014. The court applied the guidelines set forth in Civil Rule 90.3 to determine child support obligations.

         The court ultimately found that Fredrickson was the obligor parent from September 2006 through August 2010 and calculated her child support obligation based on Rule 90.3. The court then applied the shared custody child support rules in Rule 90.3, using the parties' actual income to calculate their respective child support obligations from September 2010 until 2013 (when the parties shared custody on a week-on/week-off schedule). The court included the $300, 000 payment from the Japanese government as a part of Fredrickson's income for purposes of its child support calculations. Because of perceived difficulties tracking the exact amount and timing of the compensation payment, the court split the $300, 000 payment into three annual installments. Therefore, for 2011, 2012, and 2013, the court determined that Fredrickson's income consisted of the income she reported on her taxes plus $ 100, 000 per year for each annual installment.

         The court concluded that Fredrickson owed Button approximately $76, 231 in child support from September 2006 through the end of 2013. It deducted around $ 14, 027 from this sum as a credit for the amount Fredrickson had paid toward their son's expenses between 2006 and 2013, and it also offset the total amount by the four months in 2010 for which Button owed Fredrickson child support. This left Fredrickson owing Button around $61, 233 in past child support for September 2006 through 2013. Fredrickson moved for reconsideration, and Button supported Fredrickson's motion and raised additional points for reconsideration. Upon reconsideration, the court corrected several errors in its calculations, reducing the total amount Fredrickson owed Button to approximately $56, 861.

         With regard to future child support obligations, the court found that from 2014 onward Fredrickson had been voluntarily unemployed. Based on this finding the court imputed income to Fredrickson in the amount of approximately $57, 395, an average of Fredrickson's adjusted gross income from her tax returns for 2006 through 2010. The court did not impute income to Button. Based on Button's 2014 income, the court concluded that he owed Fredrickson approximately $431 per month from January 2014 onwards.

         After the court issued its child support orders, Button filed a motion for Alaska Civil Rule 82 attorney's fees. Thereafter the court entered an amended final judgment awarding Button approximately $56, 360, consisting of approximately (1) $48, 963 for child support from prior years less Button's monthly obligation to Fredrickson beginning in January 2014 and (2) $7, 396 in attorney's fees. Fredrickson appeals on multiple grounds.

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Whether the superior court used the correct method of calculating child support[2] and whether it applied the correct legal standard in calculating child support[3]poses questions of law we review de novo. "Whether an item qualifies as income for the purposes of Rule 90.3 is a question of law that we review de novo, adopting the rule that 'is most persuasive in light of precedent, reason and policy.' "[4]

         A trial court's decision whether to impute income to a child support obligor is reviewed for abuse of discretion, and the amount of income to impute is reviewed for clear error.[5] "A finding is clearly erroneous if we are 'left with a definite and firm conviction that the trial court has made a mistake.' "[6] But "[w]hether there are sufficient findings for informed appellate review is a question of law."[7] We "determine de novo whether an award of attorney's fees is governed by a rule or an exception to a rule."[8]

         IV. DISCUSSION

         A. The Court Made Insufficient Findings To Support Its Determination That Fredrickson's $300, 000 Payment From Japan Should Be Considered Income For Purposes of Calculating Child Support.

         1. It was clear error to find that Fredrickson received the $300, 000 in three annual installments.

         The superior court found that Fredrickson received $300, 000 from the Japanese government in three annual installments of$100, 000 disbursed in 2011, 2012, and 2013. But the court acknowledged that the record was unclear on this point. While Button provided Fredrickson's monthly bank statements from 2011 to 2013, this did "little to dispel the confusion" because the payments from the Japanese government were not identified. Despite this confusion, the court found that the disbursement was not a one-time payment and therefore it must be calculated as spread out over several years. The court based this finding on the fact that "[n]owhere in the bank statements is a deposit for $300, 000" and that at trial, "Fredrickson testified that she received money beyond what was reported in her taxes to live on from 2011-2013," which the court determined was "clearly a reference to the settlement from the Japanese government." We conclude that the court's finding of three annual installments of $ 100, 000 was clearly erroneous for several reasons.

         First, at the evidentiary hearing on child support, the only evidence presented as to the timing of the Japanese government's payment was Fredrickson's uncontradicted testimony that she received $300, 000 in 2012[9] from the Japanese government for her brother's death in the tsunami. Neither party specifically argued that Fredrickson received more than one payment from the Japanese government, and the court made no finding that Fredrickson was not a credible witness. Instead, the court's final order was the first time it was explicitly suggested that Fredrickson received the funds as three annual payments. While it is true that Fredrickson answered in the affirmative when opposing counsel asked Fredrickson whether she had "received other moneys from 2011 through 2013" beyond what was reported in her taxes, opposing counsel did not ask further questions to clarify what "other moneys" Fredrickson was referencing or to distinguish specific dates. Fredrickson's answer to this question is not inconsistent with receiving the entire $300, 000 payment in 2012; 2012 falls within the 2011 to 2013 range. In addition, opposing counsel never asked Fredrickson to identify which deposit or deposits were Japanese funds, nor was she ever asked why there was not a $300, 000 deposit on her statements. No other witnesses or evidence contradicted Fredrickson's testimony that she received $300, 000 in 2012.

         Second, while it is true that the trial court did not find a $300, 000 deposit in the bank records Button submitted, these bank statements also fail to show any fixed, recurring deposits of $ 100, 000 or any other amount that would suggest regular payments from the Japanese government. As Fredrickson states in her brief, "[t]he reasonable conclusion from the evidence presented is that the payment from the Japanese government was maintained in a separate account." There is evidence supporting this position. Fredrickson's bank statements submitted at trial show multiple transfers from a bank account numbered *94. As Fredrickson argues, this evidence is "consistent with all of the settlement funds being placed in an account numbered *94 and being transferred into [Fredrickson]'s checking and savings accounts as needed."

         Third, if the payments were spread out over three years, Fredrickson would have had to receive payments in 2012, 2013, and 2014. But the beginning balance of account *94, which likely held the Japanese funds, was $240, 142.06 in January 2014. This suggests that Fredrickson received all of the funds prior to January 2014, as the account's beginning balance is higher than the amount of two $100, 000 payments, or $200, 000, and she does not appear to have received a $100, 000 payment into this account during 2014. It is more likely that Fredrickson received the entire Japanese payment in 2012 as she testified, placed the $300, 000 in the account in 2012, and withdrew from the account between 2012 and January 2014, resulting in a balance of $240, 142.06 in January 2014.

         And while Button cites McDonald v. Trihub to argue that "[w]hen a party fails to present sufficient evidence necessary to clarify an issue, the trial court is tasked with making its determination on the best evidence that it has available, "[10] this case is easily distinguishable. In contrast to McDonald, in which questions were raised as to the adequacy of the evidence of a party's income before the court's decision on the matter, [11]Fredrickson would not have known that her evidence was inadequate because the argument that the funds were received in installments was never made at trial.[12] We therefore conclude that it was clear error to find that Fredrickson's payment from the Japanese government occurred in $100, 000 installments over three years from 2011 to 2013.

         2. The superior court made no other findings that could support a determination that Fredrickson's $300, 000 payment should be considered income for purposes of child support.

         Because the superior court's finding that Fredrickson received money from the Japanese government in three installments was clearly erroneous, and because it relied on that finding to treat the money as income rather than a one-time gift, its decision to include the money as income for purposes of calculating child support is called into question. Yet the exact nature of the payment remains unknown. We note that Fredrickson has referred to the $300, 000 payment both as a gift and as a settlement, though she argues that as a one-time gift the payment should not be considered income. And while Button relies in part in his briefing to this court on cases dealing with gifts, he consistently refers to the payment as settlement funds. The precise nature of the Japanese payment was not established in the superior court and remains unclear.

         The dissent argues that there is sufficient evidence on the record to support a finding that the payments were a settlement, and that we should therefore affirm the court's determination that the payment should be treated as income. But the superior court never made a finding that the payment was a settlement, nor any other finding actually characterizing the payment. Rather, the court merely found that "as the money was paid out over several years, it is not a one-time gift or inheritance," and on that basis concluded that it must be income. Rather than necessarily implying that the payment must have been a settlement, the court's reasoning could just as easily imply that it would have been inclined to treat the payment as a gift or inheritance but for its finding that the money was paid out in installments. Because we conclude it was clearly erroneous to find that the payment was made over time, the court's conclusion that the payment was therefore not a one-time gift must be disregarded. Because the superior court made no other findings that support its determination that the payment should be treated as income, that determination must be vacated. We therefore remand to the superior court to determine whether the payment was a gift, a legal settlement, or something else and recalculate its child support award accordingly.

         3. In the event the payment is determined on remand to be a gift, it may be included as income for purposes of child support to the extent it was treated as equivalent to other income.

         Based on the assumption that the money from the Japanese government was a gift, both parties advance arguments with respect to whether a gift should be treated as income for purposes of calculating child support. This debate will be relevant in the event the superior court on remand determines that the payment was a gift, so we address it here. Fredrickson argues that because the "funds were a one-time gift, it was error to treat [them] as income." Button argues that "the court only included the ... funds in its retrospective determination of her child support obligation" and, therefore, the court did not err in including the funds in Fredrickson's income for the purposes of calculating the child support award.

         The Commentary to Rule 90.3 explains that "[t]he principal amount of onetime gifts and inheritances should not be considered as income."[13] In Nass v. Seaton, we endorsed this approach because "any other approach blurs the easily administered and well-established historical distinction between gifts and earned income."[14]

         However, our subsequent decision in Crayton v. Crayton deviated from the strict rule set out in Nass.[15] In Crayton a father brought a motion seeking reimbursement of child support from the mother.[16] The father argued that certain one-time monetary gifts the mother had received should be included in her income when determining her child support obligation for a period in which no child support order existed.[17] The superior court relied on our holding in Nass and rejected the father's request.[18] We reversed, distinguishing Nass as relating to calculating support obligations for the future.[19] Because a gift will not necessarily be repeated in the future, we reasoned that "the inclusion as income of a one-time gift or an inheritance would unfairly inflate" child support obligations "beyond the obligor's reliable future resources."[20] We concluded that this logic does not apply where the mother's "future payments [were] not at issue" and "the superior court will determine [the mother]'s income only in retrospect."[21] Because "it [was] fair for the court to base the amount of reimbursement on the resources available to [the mother]," we remanded, directing the superior court to consider gifts in determining the mother's retrospective child support obligation.[22]

         Crayton offered no citation to authority for the apparent holding that gifts should always be treated as income when making retrospective calculations, [23] and Justice Eastaugh wrote a concurring opinion taking issue with this court's analysis.[24] Justice Eastaugh reasoned that "most one-time gifts and inheritances should be considered to be capital assets. Such [funds] may represent the ability to earn income, an ability that should be taken into account, but the gifts themselves are often treated as capital assets by the donor and the recipient."[25] Thus, the touchstone of Justice Eastaugh's analysis was the treatment of the gift by the parties involved.

         We are persuaded by Justice Eastaugh's approach. The Commentary to Rule 90.3 provides that the term "income" "should be interpreted broadly to include benefits which would have been available for support if the family had remained intact."[26] To that end, trial courts may include one-time gifts as income when calculating retrospective child support awards to the extent that the principal amount of the gift was treated as the equivalent of income, i.e., as a resource to be used for general support and family expenses. By contrast, to the extent a gift is treated as a capital asset, with its principal kept separate and with only interest or rent derived therefrom treated as disposable income, the principal of the gift should not be included as income for child support purposes.[27] On remand, should the superior court determine that money Fredrickson received from the Japanese government was a gift, it may include those funds in the income calculation to the extent Fredrickson treated the payment as equivalent to a source of income rather than as a capital asset.

         B. Fredrickson Is Not Entitled To An Exception To Rule 90.3.

         1. To qualify for an exception to Rule 90.3, Fredrickson must prove by clear and convincing evidence that manifest injustice would result from an application of Rule 90.3.

         Rule 90.3(c)(1) provides that a "court may vary the child support award as calculated under the other provisions of this rule for good cause upon proof by clear and convincing evidence that manifest injustice would result if the support award were not varied."[28] Fredrickson argues that the facts of her case warrant a deviation from the normal application of Rule 90.3' s methodology for calculating child support for periods in which no support order was in effect. She claims that the parties' agreement to waive child support and her reliance on the agreement, difficulties in proving past expenses and income, and her son's adequate care during the period are unusual circumstances that make the application of Rule 90.3's regular methodology unfair. She asserts that this unfairness is enough to avoid Rule 90.3's application through an exception to the rule she finds in its Commentary at VI(E)(1). Fredrickson argues that "[t]his section of the Commentary makes no reference to Civil Rule 90.3(c)(1)[] and exists separate from the Commentary interpreting Civil Rule 90.3(c)(1)." Therefore, Fredrickson asserts she does not need to "include proof of 'manifest injustice' by 'clear and convincing evidence'" as typically required under Rule 90.3(c)(1). We disagree.

         As we explained in Ruppe v. Ruppe, Rule 90.3(c)(1) "permits the court to 'vary the child support award as calculated under the other provisions of this rule for good cause upon proof by clear and convincing evidence that manifest injustice would result if the support award were not varied'" and "[s]uch a variation may be particularly appropriate when the superior court is examining parents' conduct before any child support order was entered."[29] We went on to note that while "we have held 'that absent extraordinary circumstances, courts should apply the calculation methodology of Rule 90.3 to determine amounts to be reimbursed to custodial parents for support of children during periods not covered by support orders,' the commentary [at VI(E)(1)] to Rule 90.3 notes that 'in some circumstances unfairness may result from rigid [retroactive] application of the rule.' "[30]

         Our articulation in Ruppe of the prevailing standard for deviations from Rule 90.3's regular methodology made clear that its Commentary at VI(E)(1) does not provide an independent exception to Rule 90.3's application in this context, but rather is a component of the general standard governing deviations from Rule 90.3's methodology. In addition, the structure of the Commentary itself suggests that Part VI(E)(1)'s instructive language is still subject to the requirements of Rule 90.3(c). Part VI(A) of the Commentary provides information on exceptions in general. Parts VI(B)-(F), including Part VI(E) that Fredrickson relies on here, discuss more specific issues, all of which fall under the general category of exceptions to Rule 90.3. This indicates that Part VI(E) is subject to the general standard applied to the broader category of exceptions governed by Rule 90.3(c). In light of our recent case law and the structure of the Commentary to Rule 90.3, we hold that Fredrickson, like all parents seeking a variance from the application of Rule 90.3's methodology, would be entitled to a variation only "for good cause upon proof by clear and convincing evidence that manifest injustice would result if the support award were not varied."[31]

         2. Fredrickson did not prove by clear and convincing evidence that manifest injustice would result from an application of Rule 90.3.

         Fredrickson argues that the superior court should have deviated from Rule 90.3 in calculating child support for the periods prior to Button's complaint on several grounds. We conclude that none of these grounds warrant a deviation from the application of Rule 90.3's regular methodology.

         Fredrickson contends that it is unfair to use Rule 90.3 calculations in this case because she relied on the parties' agreement that no support was due, and if she had known otherwise she would have kept careful track of her spending. She explains that between 2006 and 2013 the parties "made informal agreements to cover [their son's] expenses as those expenses arose" and that "[i]n August of 2007, the parties executed an agreement saying that neither party owed the other child support." Button signed the agreement and both parties believed the agreement was fair and equitable at that time. Fredrickson argues that "the agreement between the parties that no additional support was owing is one of the unusual circumstances which makes the rigid application of Rule 90.3's calculation methodology unjust on these facts." She also offers the agreement as evidence that she had no reason to be aware of her potential liability for retrospective support obligations and that she therefore did not keep close records of her expenses related to the child.

         But we made clear in Cox v. Cox "that an agreement between the parties as to child support is not an exceptional circumstance justifying deviations from the guidelines, where the agreement requires support less than that called for by the guidelines."[32] Cox involved a prospective child support award, [33] but we have also applied similar logic to child support arrearages, holding in Mx v. Mx that "a child support waiver is not valid and enforceable until a court has reviewed and approved the waiver's substantive adequacy under Rule 90.3" and "a child support waiver presented after the initial dissolution proceeding will be given only prospective effect from the date of judicial approval."[34] Given these holdings, the superior court correctly ruled that the existence of the parties' child support waiver cannot by itself support a deviation from calculations of child support awards required by Rule 90.3. In addition, the court correctly recognized that Fredrickson was aware that she owed support, as indicated by her payments to Button during this period. These payments suggest she knew she was at least partially financially responsible for supporting their son. The fact that Fredrickson might have done something different in the absence of the agreement between the parties is not an extraordinary circumstance that would permit the superior court to deviate from a calculation under Rule 90.3.

         Fredrickson also contends that it is unfair to use Rule 90.3 calculations in this case because she made substantial contributions to her child's expenses that she cannot prove. Fredrickson offered testimony and evidence about her actual spending during the time period at issue. She claimed that these expenses included $660 per month to Button for a time after they separated, including $400 for half the cost of the child's school; coverage of the child on her medical insurance; co-payments for medical care that insurance did not cover; and payments for karate, swimming, football, and other miscellaneous expenses. Fredrickson also testified that in the spring of 2007 she stopped paying a fixed dollar amount directly to Button and began paying certain of the child's expenses on her own, including school fees, doctor's bills, and extracurricular activities like soccer, football, and swimming. Fredrickson submitted documentation showing expenses she paid, including a partial check register for 2007 through 2009. But she was only able to document "partial" "example[s]" of what she paid on the child's behalf. She argues that the child support award should be lower because there were many expenditures she made that she could not prove.

         However, the court credited Fredrickson $ 13, 602 against her retrospective support obligation for the contributions she was able to prove.[35] The court properly based the amount it credited Fredrickson on the evidence presented, including Fredrickson's bank records and check book register. We conclude that Fredrickson's inability to prove additional claimed expenditures on her child in this context does not establish by clear and convincing evidence that manifest injustice would result if the court did not vary the retrospective child support from what was required under Rule 90.3 for the period from 2006 through 2013.

         Fredrickson further argues that the evidence suggests that the child was well-supported financially and she would have paid more support if he needed it. Fredrickson contends the court's child support order "will only take support away from [her child] in the present" and that "[t]he substantial arrearage will effectively mean that the money available to [Fredrickson] to support [her child] will be greatly diminished during the half of his life he spends with her." And she asserts that a rigid application of Rule 90.3 would result in exactly the type of unfairness we have attempted to avoid - a" 'prolonged dispute' about who paid for what" in the past.[36]

         Fredrickson's argument that the child support award will only take support away from their son in the present is without merit. In addition to the retrospective award, the superior court entered an award for prospective child support. Both of these awards are meant to provide for their son's needs, and the prospective award will ensure that both parents continue to provide for his needs in the future. Finally, using Rule 90.3 to calculate the retrospective child support award will definitively end the dispute about past child support, not result in a "prolonged dispute" about who paid for what in the past.[37]

         In order to qualify for an exception to calculating child support obligations under Rule 90.3, Fredrickson was required to prove by clear and convincing evidence that manifest injustice would result from an application of Rule 90.3. Because she failed to do so, we hold that the superior court did not err in using Rule 90.3 to calculate Fredrickson's support obligations.

         C. It Was Not Error To Impute Income To Fredrickson, Nor To Decline To Impute Income To Button.

         1. The court did not err in imputing income to Fredrickson.

         Button argued in the superior court that it "should treat... Fredrickson as voluntarily unemployed and... impute her past income" for the purposes of calculating a future child support award. The court agreed, finding that from 2014 onwards Fredrickson was voluntarily unemployed. Based on this finding, the court imputed income to Fredrickson under Rule 90.3(a)(4), which allows the court to "calculate child support based on a determination of the potential income of a parent who voluntarily and unreasonably is unemployed or underemployed, "[38] in an amount of $57, 395.72 per year.[39]

         There are two aspects to the standard for imputing income in the child support context. First, the superior court must find that the obligor is both voluntarily and unreasonably unemployed or underemployed.[40] Second, the superior court's method for calculating the obligor's actual earning capacity must be supported by adequate factual findings, "based upon the [obligor's] work history, ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.