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You can search the entire site. or go to the recent opinions, or the chronological or subject indices. Mattfield v. Mattfield (04/21/2006) sp-6003

Mattfield v. Mattfield (04/21/2006) sp-6003, 133 P3d 667

     Notice:   This opinion is subject to correction  before
     publication  in  the  Pacific  Reporter.   Readers  are
     requested to bring errors to the attention of the Clerk
     of  the  Appellate  Courts, 303  K  Street,  Anchorage,
     Alaska 99501, phone (907) 264-0608, fax (907) 264-0878,
     e-mail corrections@appellate.courts.state.ak.us.


            THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF ALASKA

RODNEY J. MATTFIELD, )
) Supreme Court No. S- 11435
Appellant, )
) Superior Court No. 3KN-96-00820 CI
v. )
) O P I N I O N
TAMARA M. MATTFIELD, )
) No. 6003 - April 21, 2006
Appellee. )
)
Appeal    from     the
          Superior Court of the State of Alaska,  Third
          Judicial   District,   Kenai,   Charles    K.
          Cranston, Judge pro tem.

          Appearances: William T. Ford, Law Offices  of
          William  T.  Ford, Anchorage, for  Appellant.
          Kristine A. Schmidt, Kenai, for Appellee.

          Before:   Bryner,  Chief  Justice,  Matthews,
          Eastaugh, Fabe, and Carpeneti, Justices.

          BRYNER, Chief Justice.

I.   INTRODUCTION
          This  appeal raises two separate points arising from  a
divorce  between Rodney Mattfield and Tamara Mattfield.  In  both
points,  Rodney challenges rulings by the superior court granting
motions  for  reconsideration filed by Tamara.  The  first  point
involves  the  superior courts decision to  reconsider  an  order
disbursing  to  the  IRS funds derived from  a  dissolved  family
business; the second involves the courts decision to reconsider a
child  support order using estimated income in favor of an  order
based on actual earnings.  We dismiss Rodneys appeal on the first
point  because the challenged order requires further proceedings,
so  it  fails  to  qualify as an appealable final  judgment.   We
affirm  the courts rulings on the second point, the child support
issue,  concluding  that  Rodney  has  failed  to  establish  any
reversible error.
II.  FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS
          Rodney  Mattfield  and  Tamara  Mattfield  (now  Cooke)
married in 1988 and had two children together before Rodney filed
for  divorce  in  1996.  The following year  the  superior  court
entered  a divorce decree but reserved all other disputed  issues
for further proceedings.  Since then the parties have engaged  in
ongoing  disputes over child custody, child support, and property
division.
          In  the  early 2000s two unrelated controversies arose:
one  involved  Dash Express, Inc., a family-owned  business;  the
other involved Rodneys child support obligation.  Proceedings  on
these issues converged in December 2003 and culminated two months
later in the superior court order that triggered this appeal.
     A.   Dash Express
          Rodney and Tamara incorporated Dash Express, Inc., as a
marital business in 1988.  Tamara managed the company, and Rodney
worked  there  about four hours a day.  During the first  several
years  after the parties separated, an interim order gave  Rodney
control over Dash Express but required him to pay Tamara $500 per
month, subject to adjustment in the final property division.
          In January 2000 the superior court entered its decision
dividing  the marital property.  The court found that Tamara  was
more likely to successfully operate and maintain Dash Express  as
a  successful  business, so it gave her the  option  to  purchase
Rodneys  share of the company; alternatively, the court  decided,
Tamara  could elect to assign her interest to Rodney on condition
that  he  execute  a  promissory note and pay  certain  corporate
obligations.   Tamara initially chose to take over the  business,
but  several days after notifying the court of her decision,  she
filed  a motion to change her election.  Her motion alleged that,
before  handing over Dash Express to Tamara, Rodney  ran  up  the
companys  debts, withdrew funds from its accounts, and  left  the
business insolvent.
          In May 2000, after holding a hearing on Tamaras motion,
the  superior  court  found that Rodney had  misrepresented  Dash
Expresss  financial  position and acted  in  bad  faith  when  he
conveyed  the  business to Tamara.  Based on these findings,  the
court  ordered Rodney to retake control of the company and assume
liability for its debts.  The court also ordered both parties  to
surrender any Dash Express funds they received so that the  money
could be kept on deposit until the court decided how it should be
distributed. The parties eventually deposited $7,758 in the court
registry,  asserting  conflicting claims to  the  funds.   Rodney
argued  that  the funds should be used to satisfy  Dash  Expresss
outstanding debts, including payroll taxes; Tamara argued that at
least some of the funds should be used to reimburse her for costs
she  incurred  on  behalf of Dash Express before  Rodney  resumed
control of the company.
          The status of the Dash Express funds remained unchanged
over  most of the next two years.  In April 2002 the IRS filed  a
levy  against  the  funds for payroll taxes totaling  $15,511.69.
The  superior court set a hearing in early May 2002 to  determine
how to dispose of the funds; after the hearing, the court ordered
further briefing.  Progress then stalled until December 22,  2003
nearly  twenty  months  after the  May  2002  hearing   when  the
superior court entered an order requiring all the deposited funds
to be paid to the IRS.
     B.   Child Support
          During  the  first  few years after they  separated  in
1996,  Rodney  and Tamara  frequently changed their  arrangements
for  custody and visitation with their children; issues of  child
support  remained  unresolved.   The  superior  court  repeatedly
ordered  both parties to submit current child support  affidavits
and  financial  records;  Tamara generally  complied  with  these
orders; Rodney consistently failed to comply.
          The  superior  court  issued its  custody  decision  in
December 1999 but declined to resolve the issue of child support.
Instead,  the  court again ordered the parties to submit  current
child  support  affidavits and financial records,  deferring  its
ruling on support until the information became available.
          For  about  two years after the superior  court  issued
this  order, the parties custody arrangements remained unsettled,
and  the  question  of  child support remained  unresolved.   The
custody   situation  began  to  stabilize  in  late   2001.    On
November  21,  2001,  the superior court entered  a  modification
order giving the parties shared custody of their older child  and
awarding  Tamara primary custody of their younger  child.   Again
the order left child support unresolved, directing the parties to
submit  current affidavits, and intending to rule  on  the  issue
once  the information was filed.  Tamara complied with the  order
for new information; Rodney did not.  The court took no action on
the issue, and another year passed.
          In  November  2002 Tamara filed a motion  to  establish
Rodneys  support  obligation for the past year  from  the  courts
November  21, 2001, modification order through the  date  of  her
motion.   Asserting  that  Rodney had consistently  attempted  to
avoid  having  his  child support obligation established  by  the
Court,  Tamara asked that the court refer the issue to the  Child
Support  Enforcement Division (CSED) because,  in  Tamaras  view,
CSED had better resources to obtain financial information and set
child  support,  in dealing with intransigent  obligors.   Rodney
opposed  Tamaras  motion,  arguing  that  the  court  was  better
equipped than CSED to determine ongoing custody issues, and  also
suggesting  that  income should be imputed  to  Tamara  over  the
period  in question because she had taken leave from her  job  to
have a child with her new husband.1
          The  superior court granted Tamaras motion and referred
the question of child support to CSED, specifically directing the
agency to establish support for the period in question using  the
parties actual net incomes during that period.  But CSED did  not
calculate  support on the basis of actual earnings,  and  instead
submitted  a proposed order using estimated earnings.  Explaining
that  its  statutory  obligation  was  confined  to  establishing
administrative support for cases that were not being  handled  in
court,  the  agency insisted that it is simply not  possible  for
          CSED to become involved in every [court] case.
            Tamara  objected to CSEDs proposed order  because  it
failed  to  use  actual income, as the court had  directed.   The
court  implicitly agreed with Tamaras objection:  It  disregarded
CSEDs  calculations  and instead directed  the  parties  to  file
supplemental  information  within twenty  days  reflecting  their
current incomes.  Specifically, the court requested child support
guidelines affidavits for the years 2001 and 2002, complete  2001
and  2002  federal  income  tax returns,  and  financial  records
showing total income from all sources for both years.
          The  superior courts order for supplemental information
was  issued  on April 28, 2003.  Tamara complied with the  order;
Rodney  did not.  On November 18, 2003, six months after  Rodneys
information was originally due, the superior court issued  a  sua
sponte order requiring him to appear and show cause why he should
not  be  held  in contempt for disregarding its April  28  order.
Rodney  appeared in response to the order on December  22,  2003;
after  hearing arguments from the parties, the court declined  to
find that Rodney had willfully disobeyed its April 28 order,  but
directed him to comply by filing the required information  within
twenty  days.   At  the  end  of the  hearing,  Rodneys  attorney
evidently   gave   Tamaras  attorney  copies  of   the   required
information.
          By  the end of the December 22 contempt hearing,  then,
everyone   including the judge  seems to have expected  that  the
court  would resolve the child support issue soon, using  Rodneys
soon-to-be  submitted information disclosing his  actual  income.
And  nobody  seems  to  have known, or  even  suspected,  that  a
different  child support order had just recently been issued   an
order  at  odds  with  these expectations.  What  seems  to  have
happened  was  this:  On November 26, 2003, about  a  week  after
ordering  Rodney to appear at the contempt hearing, the  superior
court  signed,  apparently by oversight, the child support  order
based  on  estimated  income that CSED had  proposed  ten  months
before.  For unexplained reasons, moreover, the November 26 child
support  order remained undelivered for about three weeks;  then,
on  December 19, just three days before the contempt hearing,  it
was  faxed  to  the offices of the parties attorneys.   Based  on
their conduct at the December 22 contempt hearing, it seems  that
neither  attorney  had yet seen the November 26  order;  and  the
superior  court certainly showed no sign that it recalled  having
signed such an order.2
          To  recap, then, as matters stood on December 22, 2003,
the  superior  court had just entered three orders   two  dealing
with  child  support  and one concerning Dash  Express:  (1)  The
December 22 order concerning child support, entered on-record  at
the  contempt  hearing, directing Rodney to produce  supplemental
financial information so that the court could establish his child
support  obligation  based  on  his  actual  earnings;   (2)  the
November  26 child support order  proposed ten months  before  by
CSED  and  distributed on December 19  which, as of December  22,
apparently  remained undiscovered by the parties and  unknown  to
the  court;  and (3) the December 22 order, not yet  distributed,
requiring Dash Express funds held by the court to be paid out  to
          the IRS.  These three orders soon triggered two motions for
reconsideration, unleashing a flurry of overlapping pleadings and
orders,  which in turn ended two months later in the  order  that
produced this appeal.
     C.   Disputed Rulings on Reconsideration
          Shortly  after the December 22 contempt hearing  Tamara
apparently  received the November 26 child  support  order.   She
moved  for reconsideration on December 31, 2003, asking the court
to  vacate that order because it used estimated income instead of
actual  income,  as the court had required.  Tamara  pointed  out
that the court itself had effectively rejected the same order  in
April  2003,  when  it  chose  to require  the  parties  to  file
additional  information to establish their actual  incomes.   She
alternatively argued that the court had implicitly overruled  the
November  26  child  support order at the  December  22  contempt
hearing by renewing its earlier order requiring Rodney to  submit
information establishing his actual earnings.  Besides asking the
court  to  vacate  its November 26 child support  order,  Tamaras
motion for reconsideration asked the court to enter a new support
order  based on Rodneys actual income as disclosed by the records
he  had  recently turned over to Tamara.  Tamara  supported  this
request  by  submitting  a  new child  support  affidavit  and  a
proposed   child   support   order  incorporating   Rodneys   new
information.
          On  January 5, 2004, Tamara filed her second motion for
reconsideration,  this  time  asking  the  court  to  vacate  its
December  22  order  directing that the  Dash  Express  funds  be
disbursed  from the courts registry to the IRS.  Tamara  insisted
that  she  had  sought  to claim some of  these  funds  when  she
deposited them in the registry two years before the IRS filed its
levy.   Thus,  Tamara complained, the courts order unfairly  gave
the  IRS  priority over claims that she and other  creditors  had
tried  to make first.  Under Alaska law, Tamara argued, the court
should  have  made  the  funds  available  to  all  Dash  Express
creditors with legitimate claims  not just the one creditor  that
levied them first.
          Also  on January 5, the superior court issued an  order
addressing  Tamaras first motion for reconsideration  the  motion
asking  the court to vacate its November 26 child support  order.
The   January   5   order   stated  that   Tamaras   motion   for
reconsideration  was  granted, and directed  Rodney  to  file  an
opposition   to   the  motion  by  January   17.    By   granting
reconsideration and directing Rodney to respond  to  the  motion,
the  order effectively declared that the trial court intended  to
reexamine its November 26 order on the merits  not that the court
actually had granted Tamaras requested relief.
          On  January  14,  three days before his response  would
fall due, Rodney moved for an extension of time until February  6
to  respond to pending paperwork.  Although the divorce case  was
pending  before  the  superior court in Kenai,  Rodneys  attorney
mistakenly filed the motion with the superior court in Anchorage,
where  his law office was located.  The court system in Anchorage
forwarded the document to Kenai several days later, and the Kenai
court  staff  received  it on January 20, three  days  after  the
deadline for Rodneys response.
          That  same  day, the superior court judge handling  the
case in Kenai, evidently unaware of Rodneys motion to extend  the
time for opposition, signed an order granting Tamaras (apparently
unopposed) motion to reconsider and vacate its November 26  child
support  order;  at  the  same time, the court  approved  Tamaras
request  to  enter her newly proposed child support order,  which
relied on the parties actual 2001-2002 earnings.3
          On  January 28, 2004, the court granted Tamaras  motion
to  reconsider its Dash Express order as well, thus reopening the
issue of whether the companys funds should go exclusively to  the
IRS.   The  court  directed  Tamara to inform  all  Dash  Express
creditors of its order and to invite them to file claims  against
the  funds  in  the  courts  registry, together  with  statements
indicating  what  priority  they  believed  their  claims  should
receive.
          By  February 2, Rodneys originally misfiled January  14
motion  for  extension  had threaded its way  through  the  court
system  and  captured  the assigned judges attention;  the  court
belatedly  granted the motion.  This extension gave Rodney  until
February  6  to  file responses on any pending  matters  that  he
desired to address when he filed the motion on January 14.
          On the February 6 deadline for responding, Rodney filed
an  emergency  motion for additional time.   Asserting  that  the
orders  on  reconsideration relating to child  support  and  Dash
Express should be vacated, Rodney asked for another extension  to
address  these  issues until February 20.   Instead  of  deciding
Rodneys  motion  immediately as an emergency  matter,  the  court
allowed  the usual time for a response before taking  the  matter
under  advisement.  Rodney submitted no response by his requested
February  20  deadline,  and  failed to  request  any  additional
extension.   After another week passed with no further  pleadings
from  Rodney, the court entered an order on February  27  denying
his motion for an extension from February 6 to February 20.
          Until  the superior court issued its February 27  order
denying  Rodneys  last request for an extension,  earlier  orders
granting  Tamaras  motions to reconsider the  November  26  child
support  order  and  the  December Dash Express  order  had  been
functionally   suspended   pending   consideration   of   Rodneys
responses;  in  effect, then, the February 27 order  denying  any
further  extension reinstated and confirmed the courts orders  on
reconsideration.   Rodney  now  appeals,  challenging  the   Dash
Express order, which reopens the issue of who should receive  the
Dash  Express funds, and seeking to vacate the new support order,
which  adopts Tamaras support calculations reflecting the parties
actual earnings.  We consider each of these points in turn.
III. DISCUSSION
     A.   Dash Express
          Rodney  argues  that  we should  vacate  the  order  on
reconsideration concerning the Dash Express funds  and  reinstate
the  superior  courts December 22, 2003, order  disbursing  those
funds to the IRS.  He maintains that the superior court erred  by
neglecting  to  allow  him  to  respond  to  Tamaras  motion   to
reconsider  the December 22 order and by failing to  explain  its
          basis for reconsidering its original order directing the funds to
be paid to the IRS.
          Tamara   responds initially that these issues  are  not
ripe  for  appeal.  Only final judgments can be  appealed  as  of
right,   she   points   out.4   Because   the   superior   courts
reconsideration order concerning the Dash Express funds calls for
further  proceedings to determine who should receive the companys
money,  Tamara contends that the order cannot properly be treated
as an appealable final judgment.
            Tamaras argument is well taken.5  A final judgment is
one  that disposes of the entire case and ends the litigation  on
the  merits.6   Here,  far from deciding who  should  obtain  the
deposited  Dash  Express  funds,  the  order  on  reconsideration
reopened   that   issue   and   specifically   required   further
proceedings.   As Rodney himself acknowledges, [i]t is  uncertain
whether  the  effect  of  the  granting  of  Tamaras  motion  for
reconsideration vacated the previous order or merely  stayed  its
application pending possible further proceedings.  It seems  more
likely  that the latter effect was intended by the courts  order.
Rodney further concedes that [t]he matter remains unresolved  and
at this writing the funds are still in the court registry.
          Rodney nonetheless contends that the Dash Express issue
needs  to  be aired immediately because, he asserts,  Tamara  has
ignored the trial courts order directing her to notify other Dash
Express  creditors of the order so that they can  submit  claims.
Since  no  other creditors have filed claims, Rodney alleges,  no
hearing  on  the matter will ever be held, so the disputed  order
will  never  become  a final appealable judgment.   According  to
Rodney, Tamara should not be allowed to profit from her own  lack
of compliance by defeating his right to appellate review.
          But  this  argument  is unpersuasive.   If,  as  Rodney
alleges,  Tamara  is  flouting the superior  courts  notification
order,  then the proper recourse would be for Rodney to  ask  the
superior court to enforce its order by compelling Tamara to  obey
it.   Tamaras  alleged disobedience does not  entitle  Rodney  to
abandon  available  trial  court  remedies  and  jump  courts  by
demanding review of an otherwise non-appealable order.
          Since  Rodneys claims of error concerning Dash  Express
address  a  matter  that  has not been finally  resolved  by  the
superior  court,  we  conclude that no final  judgment  has  been
entered,  so  Rodneys appeal on this point must be  dismissed  as
premature.
     B.   Child Support
          Rodney also challenges the superior courts decision  to
reconsider its November 26, 2003, child support order.  He argues
that  the  court should not have reconsidered the  order  without
first  allowing him to file an opposition to Tamaras  motion  for
reconsideration; he also argues that the court improperly  relied
on  new evidence in adopting the new child support order and  did
not  adequately  explain its reasoning.  But as Tamara  correctly
responds, Rodneys arguments lack merit.7
          As  already noted above, because the superior court was
actively seeking to enforce its order requiring Rodney to  submit
information  to  establish a child support  order  based  on  his
          actual earnings, it appears to have made an oversight in signing
its  November 26 child support order, which used CSEDs  estimated
income calculations.  Moreover, even though the courts January  5
order   nominally  granted  Tamaras  motion  to  reconsider   its
November 26 child support order, the order on reconsideration did
not,  as Rodney alleges, deprive him of an opportunity to respond
to  Tamaras   motion.   To  the contrary,  the  January  5  order
expressly  invited  Rodney to respond  to  Tamaras  motion,  thus
effectively indicating that the trial court intended to reexamine
its  November  26  order  not that it had actually  vacated  that
order as Tamara requested.
          This   reading  of  the  trial  courts  order   follows
logically   because   the   order   substantially   tracked   the
requirements  of  Civil Rule 77(k)(3), which specifies  that  the
trial court should ordinarily invite a response before granting a
motion for reconsideration: No response shall be made to a motion
for  reconsideration unless requested by the court, but a  motion
for reconsideration will ordinarily not be granted in the absence
of  such a request.8  When viewed in context, the superior courts
January  5 order can most reasonably be understood as an  attempt
to comply with this rules command.
          Rodney  also  argues  that the trial  court  improperly
considered new evidence in granting Tamaras request to substitute
her  proposed child support order for the November 26 order.  But
this  argument  lacks  merit for a similar reason:  By  expressly
inviting Rodney to respond to Tamaras motion for reconsideration,
and  then  extending the deadline for his response, the  superior
court  gave  Rodney  ample  opportunity  to  controvert  the  new
information Tamara submitted to bolster her newly proposed  child
support  order.  And although the court ultimately denied Rodneys
motion  for  yet  another extension, it did  so  only  after  his
requested  extended deadline had passed without any  response  or
further   request  for  extension.   Nor  did  Rodney  move   for
reconsideration or offer to file a late response after the  court
denied  his last extension.  Even now, on appeal, Rodney advances
no  plausible explanation for his failure to submit a response by
his own requested February 20 deadline.9
          Rodney  further asserts that the superior court  failed
to  enter proper findings and conclusions explaining its  reasons
for  granting  Tamaras proposed child support  order.   But  this
argument  is  simply  mistaken.  The child support  order  itself
amply  explains the basis of the trial courts decision: the order
follows  Alaskas  standard form DR-301 Order for Modification  of
Child  Support,  providing the detailed information  that  DR-301
requires  and performing all necessary calculations on the  basis
of  that  information, in keeping with the requirements of  Civil
Rule   90.3.   In  turn,  the  amounts  reflected  in  the  order
correspond to the detailed affidavits submitted by Tamara,  which
reflect the financial information that Rodney gave Tamara  at  or
soon  after  the December 22 contempt hearing.  Rodney  does  not
challenge the accuracy of the information used by the court.  Nor
does  he  allege  that  the  courts  order  contains  errors   in
calculation.  When viewed as a whole, then, these documents fully
explain the superior courts child support order.
          Moreover, even assuming that Rodney did show  that  the
trial  court  committed  procedural error,  the  error  would  be
harmless at most.  The only claim of prejudice advanced on appeal
by  Rodney is that the superior court should have imputed  income
to  Tamara because she became  voluntarily unemployed during  the
period in question by taking maternity leave to have a new  child
with  her  current  spouse.  But Rodneys argument  misreads  Rule
90.3(a)(4).   The rule allows income to be imputed  only  when  a
parent   voluntarily   and   unreasonably   is   unemployed    or
underemployed.10  Here, Rodneys argument completely  ignores  the
requirement  of unreasonableness.  Rodney relies  solely  on  the
contention   that   Tamara  voluntarily  took  maternity   leave,
providing  no  further reason and citing no authority  suggesting
that  her temporary time off to have a child should automatically
result  in  imputed income.  On this record, we see no basis  for
concluding  that the trial courts ruling substantially prejudiced
Rodney.
IV.  CONCLUSION
          Because the order Rodney challenges on the Dash Express
issue is not a final judgment, we DISMISS Rodneys appeal on  that
point.   Because  we find no reversible error in connection  with
the  superior courts orders granting Tamaras motion to reconsider
the  November  26  child support order and to enter  a  different
order, we AFFIRM those orders.
_______________________________
     1     Rodney  also  filed  a  child  support  affidavit  but
supported  it with only a single pay stub, which simply reflected
his 2002 wages from his primary employer.

     2      If   the  court  had  recalled  the  order  and   had
deliberately issued it, then the court would have had  no  reason
to  proceed with the show-cause hearing or to require  Rodney  to
produce  additional information concerning his  actual  2001-2002
income.

     3     On February 9, 2004, CSED filed a Notice of Adjustment
reflecting Rodneys increased support obligation under  the  newly
entered child support order.

     4    D.L.M. v. M.W., 941 P.2d 900, 902 (Alaska 1997) (citing
Appellate Rule 202(a)).

     5    The appealability of an order presents a jurisdictional
question  that  we  review de novo.  See Greater  Anchorage  Area
Borough v. City of Anchorage, 504 P.2d 1027, 1030 (Alaska  1972),
overruled  on  other  grounds by City  &  Borough  of  Juneau  v.
Thibodeau, 595 P.2d 626, 628-29 (Alaska 1979).

     6     D.L.M., 941 P.2d at 902 (quoting Borg-Warner Corp.  v.
Avco Corp., 850 P.2d 628, 634 (Alaska 1993) (citations omitted)).

     7    In addition to responding to Rodneys arguments on their
merits, Tamara contends as an initial matter that Rodneys  appeal
on  this point should be dismissed because he filed it too  late.
The  final  order denying Rodneys extension to file responses  to
Tamaras motions for reconsideration was issued February 27, 2004,
and  was  distributed on March 3.  As noted in our discussion  in
the  text  of this opinion, this order functionally resolved  all
pending  child  support issues and amounted to a final  judgment;
hence  the  thirty-day period for appeal began running  when  the
order was distributed.  See Alaska R. App. P. 204(a)(1).  Because
Rodney  filed  his notice of appeal on April 7,  the  notice  was
filed  several days after the specified deadline.  But given  the
brief  period  of  delay, the general confusion  surrounding  the
proceedings on reconsideration, the uncertainty that  might  have
arisen  because  the  order  denying Rodneys  extension  was  not
expressly  identified as a final judgment, and the  lack  of  any
discernible  prejudice  to  Tamara, we conclude  that  dismissing
Rodneys  appeal might result in manifest injustice, and therefore
choose  to  relax  the deadline and address  the  appeal  on  its
merits.  See Alaska R. App. P. 521.

     8    Alaska R. Civ. P. 77(k)(3).

     9     Rodney does assert on appeal that procedural confusion
and   misunderstandings  with  his  attorney  accounted  for  his
inability to comply with earlier deadlines; but he does not claim
that  these  same  difficulties prevented him  from  meeting  his
requested  February  20 deadline or excused  him  from  at  least
asking  for  another extension by that date.  To the extent  that
Rodneys briefing might suggest that it would have been futile  to
file  a  response  or  seek another extension  on  or  after  his
requested   February  20  deadline,  his  suggestion  lacks   any
discernible  basis  in  the record; as of  February  20,  Rodneys
motion  for  extension  was still under advisement,  and  we  see
nothing  in  the  record suggesting that the  trial  court  would
inevitably have denied the motion had Rodney submitted a response
by  that day.  Nor do we see any reason to assume that the  court
would  necessarily  have denied a timely  motion  for  a  further
extension  if  the  motion were supported by a  showing  of  good
cause.   Because the superior court waited until February  27  to
deny   Rodneys   motion  to  extend  the  response   time   until
February  20,  and  because Rodney had filed nothing  further  by
then,  its  order  of  denial  suggests  that  the  court  simply
considered the motion to be moot.

     10     Alaska R. Civ. P. 90.3(a)(4) (emphasis added).   See,
e.g.,  Silvan v. Alcina, 105 P.3d 117, 119-20, 125 (Alaska  2005)
(upholding  a  finding  by the superior  court  that  Silvan  was
voluntarily and unreasonably unemployed and that income should be
imputed to her, which in turn reduced the child support due her);
Beaudoin  v. Beaudoin, 24 P.3d 523, 530 (Alaska 2001); Alaska  R.
Civ.  P.  90.3 cmt. III.C.  Cf. Thomas v. Thomas, 589 A.2d  1372,
1373  (N.J. Super. Ch. Div. 1991) (noting that acting as  a  care
giver  to two young children is a form of employment, even if  it
is not compensated monetarily).

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