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You can search the entire site. or go to the recent opinions, or the chronological or subject indices. Skinner v. Hagberg (05/16/2008) sp-6260

Skinner v. Hagberg (05/16/2008) sp-6260, 183 P3d 486

     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

JORI LYNN SKINNER, )
) Supreme Court No. S- 12504
Appellant, )
) Superior Court No. 4FA-05-1327 CI
v. )
)
ADAM ERIC HAGBERG, ) O P I N I O N
)
Appellee. ) No. 6260 - May 16, 2008
)
Appeal    from     the
          Superior Court of the State of Alaska, Fourth
          Judicial  District,  Fairbanks,  Charles   R.
          Pengilly and Douglas L. Blankenship, Judges.

          Appearances:   Jori  L.  Skinner,   pro   se,
          Fairbanks.    Adam   E.  Hagberg,   pro   se,
          Anchorage.

          Before:    Fabe,  Chief  Justice,   Eastaugh,
          Carpeneti, and Winfree, Justices.  [Matthews,
          Justice, not participating.]

          WINFREE, Justice.
                    
I.   INTRODUCTION
          Jori Skinner gave birth to a son in January 2002.   She
and  the  childs biological father, Adam Hagberg,  never  married
each  other.   Skinner filed for sole legal and primary  physical
custody;  Hagberg  counterclaimed for shared legal  and  physical
custody.   The  trial  court  awarded the  parties  shared  legal
custody  but awarded Skinner primary physical custody.   It  then
determined Hagbergs child support arrearage from the date genetic
testing results confirmed that he was the biological father;  set
up  a twice-monthly visitation schedule and ordered each party to
pay  fifty  percent of the visitation expenses; and conditionally
awarded  Hagberg the federal income tax dependency exemption  for
the   child.   Skinner  appeals  the  rulings  on  child  support
arrearage,   visitation  and  related  expenses,  and   the   tax
exemption.
          For  the reasons explained below, we reverse the  trial
courts determination that Hagbergs child support obligation began
on  the  date genetic testing confirmed his paternity and  remand
for  recalculation of the child support arrearage.  We affirm the
trial  courts  visitation  schedule  but  remand  regarding   the
calculation  and  allocation  of visitation  expenses.   We  also
affirm  the  trial courts decision to award Hagberg  the  federal
income tax dependency exemption.
II.  FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS
     A.   Facts
          Jori  Skinner gave birth to a son, Adison,  on  January
10,  2002, after a relationship with Adam Hagberg.  Skinner  told
Hagberg during the pregnancy that he might be the father, but  at
the   time  neither  of  them  attempted  to  confirm  paternity.
Skinners  husband  was  named  as the  father  on  Adisons  birth
certificate.
          Skinner  and  her husband separated in March  2003  and
divorced in November 2004.  Genetic testing conducted in May 2004
ultimately confirmed that Hagberg was Adisons biological  father.
Beginning  in  June  2004 and continuing through  February  2005,
Skinner,  who  lived in Fairbanks, arranged for Adison  to  visit
Hagberg and his family in Anchorage.
     B.   Proceedings
          A.   In March 2005 Skinner filed for sole legal and primary
physical  custody of Adison and for child support.   Hagberg,  in
turn,  sought  shared legal and physical custody  of  Adison.   A
paternity  decree  was entered in September  2005  based  on  the
genetic testing results.
          Superior Court Judge Charles R. Pengilly issued  verbal
orders  regarding  visitation, child support arrearage,  and  the
dependent tax exemption at a custody trial in March 2006.   Judge
Pengilly  awarded the parties shared legal custody of Adison  but
awarded Skinner primary physical custody.  He ruled that Hagbergs
child  support obligation began on June 1, 2004  when the genetic
testing results finally confirmed Hagbergs paternity  rather than
on  January  10,  2002, Adisons date of birth.  He  also  granted
Hagberg  visitation rights that included one long  weekend  visit
per month during the school year until Adison began kindergarten.
Under this arrangement, Hagberg was entitled to pick up Adison in
Fairbanks at noon on Thursdays and was required to return him  to
Skinner  in Fairbanks by eight oclock on Sunday evenings.   Based
on  Hagbergs  testimony, Judge Pengilly estimated  that  Hagbergs
visitation  expenses  totaled $480 per  month.   He  ordered  the
parties  to  share  visitation  expenses  equally,  but  required
Hagberg  to  pay all the expenses and take a credit  against  his
monthly   child  support  for  one-half  the  expenses   actually
incurred.   Finally, Judge Pengilly awarded Hagberg  the  federal
income  tax  dependency exemption for Adison, subject to  certain
conditions.
          The case was reassigned to Superior Court Judge Douglas
L.   Blankenship   in  April  2006  following   Judge   Pengillys
retirement.   Judge Blankenship held a hearing in July  2006  and
issued a written order in September 2006 based primarily on Judge
Pengillys  oral  rulings.  Skinner moved for  reconsideration  on
most  issues.  Judge Blankenship granted reconsideration  on  the
school  year  visitation schedule and the  mode  of  travel,  but
denied  the  motion  in  all  other respects.   He  indicated  an
inclination to reduce the strain on Adison by requiring that  one
visit per month be by air.  He ordered supplemental briefing  but
issued no further rulings until March 2007 when the parties  were
before him regarding a visitation dispute.1
          Judge  Blankenship then issued an order  modifying  the
visitation schedule.  He required that one visit per month be  by
air.   He  also  set child support at $575 per month  subject  to
court or Child Support Services Division (CSSD) modification, and
changed  the  visitation expense framework  to  account  for  air
travel  and  to provide that Hagbergs credit for his  payment  of
Skinners  share of visitation expenses applied only  to  Hagbergs
arrearage (and not to his ongoing monthly support payments).2
          Skinner  presents  several arguments  on  appeal.   She
claims that the trial court erroneously:  (1) found that Hagbergs
child  support obligation arose when genetic testing  established
his  paternity,  rather  than at Adisons  birth;  (2)  failed  to
consider Adisons age and the parties financial capabilities  when
it  set a visitation schedule that required extensive travel; (3)
allocated  visitation expenses equally between  the  parties  and
awarded  Hagberg a monthly $240 credit against his child  support
arrearage; and (4) awarded Hagberg the federal tax exemption  for
Adison.   Skinner  also asserts that the trial court  denied  her
equal protection under the law by treating Hagberg more favorably
during the proceedings.
III. STANDARD OF REVIEW
          We review de novo the trial courts determination of the
inception  date for a child support obligation.3  We also  review
constitutional questions de novo,4 adopting the rule of law  that
is  most  persuasive in light of precedent, reason, and  policy.5
We  review the alleged inadequacy of a trial courts fact findings
to  determine whether they give a clear indication of the factors
considered important by the trial court or allow us to  determine
from  the  record what considerations were involved.6  We  review
visitation  awards,7 custody arrangements, and  the  accompanying
best-interests   determinations   for   abuse   of   discretion.8
Generally,  we  will  conclude that  a  trial  court  abused  its
discretion  only  when  we have a definite and  firm  conviction,
after reviewing the whole record, that it erred in its ruling.9
IV.  DISCUSSION
     A.    Hagbergs  Child Support Obligation  Arose  at  Adisons
Birth.
The trial court acknowledged the general law that a
parents duty of support arises on the date the child is born, but
stated that the Commentary to Alaska Civil Rule 90.3 directed it
to consider all relevant factors, including whether Hagberg knew
he had a child support obligation, in determining when Hagbergs
duty of support began.10  The trial court found that Hagberg did
not know in any meaningful sense that he had a child support
obligation until he received the paternity test results dated
June 1, 2004, and chose that date for the inception of Hagbergs
support obligation.  Settled law does not allow this approach.
          In   State,   Department  of  Revenue,  Child   Support
Enforcement Division, ex rel. Hawthorne v. Rios,11 we held that a
biological parents duty of support begins on the childs  date  of
birth  and  not when paternity is adjudicated.12  We specifically
noted  that   paternity  adjudication may be  a  prerequisite  to
enforcement  of  a  support duty where a child  is  born  out  of
wedlock,  but does not create that duty,13 and that  a  custodial
parents conduct cannot amount to an estoppel or waiver altering a
duty to pay child support.14  These rules of law are based on the
sound  policy  that fulfillment of statutory support  obligations
should  be  encouraged  and incentives to  avoid  or  delay  such
obligations should be discouraged.15
          In  Rubright v. Arnold,16 we faced facts very much like
those  now before us.  There, a mother sued her childs biological
father to establish paternity and to obtain past and future child
support  from him, even though she had been and still was married
to  another man who was listed as the father on the childs  birth
certificate.17   We  noted  that  Rioss  principles  were   well-
established and held that the biological fathers duty of  support
arose at the childs birth.18  We acknowledged potential unfairness
in some cases, such as where a biological father has no notice of
his  paternity  until many years after his childs birth  and  the
ensuing support arrearage is economically crushing:
          The father may have no means, except avoiding
          conception, of protecting himself.  Large and
          unexpected  liabilities can  be  the  logical
          consequence  of  the rule that  a  biological
          father  is liable for the support of a  child
          from  birth, especially when past  arrearages
          are based on the child support guidelines set
          out  in  Civil  Rule  90.3,  rather  than  on
          reimbursement of past expenses.[19]
          
          We  nonetheless emphasized that relief from  the  rules
potentially  harsh consequences must come from the Legislature.20
No  legislative relief has arrived, and our case  law  is  clear:
the  duty  of parental support begins on the date of  the  childs
birth.21   Neither  Civil Rule 90.3 nor the Commentary  grants  a
trial court discretion to adjust the effective date of a parental
child  support  obligation.  Civil Rule  90.3(c)(1)  permits  the
trial  court  discretion  to  vary the  child  support  award  as
calculated under Rule 90.3 in unusual circumstances when manifest
injustice  would  result if the award were  not  varied.22   Read
together with Civil Rule 90.3(c)(1), the Commentary relied on  by
the trial court refers only to limited circumstances in which the
trial court may consider all relevant factors in deciding whether
it is appropriate to deviate from the Civil Rule 90.3 calculation
of the amount of retroactive support due from the date of birth.23
          Accordingly, we reverse the ruling that Hagbergs  child
          support obligation began on June 1, 2004.  As a matter of law,
Hagbergs  support obligation began on January 10,  2002.   Absent
written  findings of unusual circumstances not presently  evident
from  the  record,  on  remand the trial court  should  determine
Hagbergs retroactive support obligation under Civil Rule 90.3.
     B.   Visitation-Related Issues
          Skinner  raises  two primary objections  to  the  trial
courts rulings on visitation.  First, she asserts the trial court
abused its discretion by failing to consider Adisons age and  the
parties  financial capabilities when it set a visitation schedule
that required extensive road and air travel.  Second, she asserts
the   trial   court  abused  its  discretion  when  it  allocated
visitation  expenses  equally between  the  parties  and  awarded
Hagberg   a  monthly  $240  credit  against  his  child   support
arrearage.
          1.   The visitation schedules effect on Adison
          Skinner argues that the trial court erred in ordering a
visitation  schedule requiring Adison, who was only four  at  the
time  of  trial, to travel back and forth between  Fairbanks  and
Anchorage twice a month.  She asserts that the trial court failed
to properly consider the emotionally staggering effects on Adison
from the long and frequent travel, the extended periods away from
Fairbanks, and the continual adjustments to be made by going back
and  forth  between the families, especially when  Adison  hardly
knew the Hagberg family.
          The  record  reflects that the trial  court  heard  and
considered  the  factors relevant to determining  an  appropriate
visitation  schedule.   Judge Pengilly  heard  Skinners  concerns
about  the  extent  of  road travel that the visitation  schedule
would  involve.  He also heard extensive testimony from a custody
investigator  about Adisons emotional, mental, and  social  needs
and  how  visitation would affect those needs.   After  observing
that  all  the  adults involved in Adisons life  were  reasonable
people who were capable of meeting Adisons best interests,  Judge
Pengilly  determined that Hagberg and his family were willing  to
be flexible to make the visitation work smoothly for Adison.
          Judge  Blankenships March 2007 written  order  reflects
that he further considered Adisons best interests when he ordered
travel  by  air  once per month.  After expressing concern  about
Adison  driving  up  and down the highway twice  a  month,  Judge
Blankenship  stated that flying once per month should  be  better
for  Adison.   Judge  Blankenship  then  explored  whether  other
options  might keep Adison from doing the trek between  Fairbanks
and  Anchorage.   Judge Blankenship ultimately  stated  he  would
order that Adison fly one trip per month.
          Notwithstanding   the   daunting   logistics   of   the
visitation  schedule and Adisons young age, the trial  court  did
consider  Adisons best interests, and after reviewing  the  whole
record, we are unable to conclude that the trial court erred.  We
therefore affirm the trial courts visitation schedule.24
          2.   The allocation of visitation expenses
          Skinner argues that the trial court erred when it:  (1)
ordered  the parties to share visitation expenses equally without
consideration  for their respective financial circumstances;  (2)
          arbitrarily found Hagbergs visitation expenses were $480 per
month;  and (3) required Hagberg to pay all of Adisons visitation
expenses as long as Hagberg was in arrears, but then granted  him
a  monthly  $240  credit  against  his  arrearage  for  half  the
expenses.  The main thrust of Skinners argument is that in  light
of the parties respective financial positions and the significant
visitation  expenses, Hagbergs child support payments  do  little
more  than  fund his visits with Adison.  When Hagbergs arrearage
ultimately  is satisfied, Skinner will need to use a  substantial
portion of Hagbergs child support payments simply to pay her half
of the visitation expenses.
          Skinner  raises  legitimate concerns  about  the  trial
courts treatment of visitation expenses.  As she correctly points
out,  Civil  Rule  90.3(g) provides that the  trial  court  shall
allocate reasonable travel expenses between the parties as may be
just  and  proper only after it calculates child support payments
under  Rule 90.3.  It appears here that the trial court allocated
travel  expenses  equally between the parties  even  before  CSSD
calculated and instituted the final child support award.  Even as
late  as  the March 2007 hearing, Hagberg apparently was under  a
temporary  child  support order pending  final  determination  by
CSSD.
          Given  the  scant information in the record  about  the
parties respective financial positions and the ultimate amount of
Hagbergs past and future child support payments, we are not in  a
position  to  determine  whether  the  trial  courts  rulings  on
visitation expenses were appropriately within its discretion.  We
remand  to  the  trial court to allocate the  burden  of  Adisons
visitation  expenses  after calculating the child  support  award
under Civil Rule 90.3 to account for Hagbergs arrearage based  on
Adisons  date of birth and considering the totality of the  child
support payments and the parties respective financial positions.
          Skinner also raises legitimate concerns about the trial
courts  approach of granting Hagberg a specified per-visit credit
against  his  arrears  based  only  on  estimated  travel  costs.
Skinner  argues  that because nearly $5,000 was credited  against
Hagbergs  support  arrearage for travel expenses,  [d]ue  process
would  then dictate a separate hearing to be held on actual dates
of  travel  and  proof of costs, rather than an individuals  best
guess  or  thought  process  of such travel.   Skinner  correctly
points  out  that Adison is entitled to receive the full  ordered
amount of child support,25 and any excess credit against Hagbergs
arrearage  that results in an underpayment would violate  Adisons
right to support.  Thus, any credit for payment of Skinners share
of  visitation  expenses  must be on a  dollar-for-dollar  basis,
although the court is free to cap the extent of the offset.
          Moreover,  it should not be Skinners responsibility  to
account  for Hagbergs visitation expenses.  While the March  2007
order  modifying  custody  appropriately  requires  that  Hagberg
provide  Skinner with proof of plane ticket expenses,  it  should
not  be  Skinners  obligation to advise CSSD  of  the  amount  of
Hagbergs  monthly expenses or whether Hagberg took  advantage  of
all  of his scheduled visits.  It is unclear why Hagberg, who  is
responsible  for  the  arrears and who is  incurring  the  travel
          expenses, is not best suited to perform this accounting function.
          On  remand, the trial court should ensure that all past
credits   against  Hagbergs  arrears  for  Skinners  portion   of
visitation costs were on a dollar-for-dollar basis, not based  on
a  predetermined estimated credit, and that Hagberg in the future
receive  credit  only  for his actual expenditures  upon  sending
receipts  for such visitation to CSSD and Skinner.  In this  way,
CSSD  can  ensure  that  Adisons right to child  support  is  not
compromised by an underpayment.
     C.   It  Was  Not  an  Abuse of Discretion To  Conditionally
          Allocate the Federal Tax Exemption to Hagberg.
          
          Skinner  asserts  that  the  trial  court  abused   its
discretion when it awarded Hagberg the federal tax exemption  for
Adison   because   she  has  primary  physical  custody.    Civil
Rule  90.3(k)  provides that consistent with AS  25.24.15226  and
federal  law,  the  trial  court may  allocate  the  federal  tax
exemption  for a child between the parties as is just and  proper
and  in  the  childs  best  interests.   Here,  the  trial  court
allocated the exemption as follows:
          Father  may  claim Adison as a dependent  for
          federal tax purposes if Father satisfies  the
          requirements  of federal law and  is  not  in
          arrears  at  the end of the tax  year  in  an
          amount more than four times his monthly child
          support   obligation.   If,  in  the  future,
          Mother  permanently reenters  the  workplace,
          the parties will alternate claiming Adison as
          a dependent for federal tax purposes.  Mother
          will  be  entitled to take  the  federal  tax
          deduction  for  the first  calendar  year  in
          which  she  obtains permanent employment  and
          works   at  least  twenty-four  weeks.    For
          example,  if she obtains permanent employment
          of  at  least twenty-four weeks in 2007,  she
          would  be  able  to  take the  deduction  for
          Adison for tax year 2007.
          The  allocation complies with the statute and the rule,
and on the record before us, we conclude that the trial court did
not err.  The trial court nonetheless will have an opportunity on
remand  to  determine whether this allocation remains appropriate
after  revisiting the child support and visitation expense issues
discussed above.
     D.   No Equal Protection Violation Occurred.
          Skinner  claims that because the trial court  found  in
favor   of   Hagberg  on  most  of  the  issues  at  trial,   her
constitutional  right  to  equal protection  under  the  law  was
violated.  Equal protection under the law does not mean that  the
trial court is obligated to come to some rough equivalency in the
number  of  rulings  favoring  each  side  of  a  dispute.    Our
independent  review  of  the record  reveals  no  evidence  of  a
deliberate   plan  to  discriminate  against  Skinner   on   some
unjustifiable basis or arbitrary classification, and there is  no
basis  to  reverse  any  of  the trial courts  rulings  on  equal
protection  grounds.27  We therefore conclude that her  claim  is
without merit.
V.   CONCLUSION
          We REVERSE the trial courts determination that Hagbergs
child  support  obligation  began on  the  date  genetic  testing
confirmed  his  paternity, hold as a matter of law that  Hagbergs
child  support obligation began on January 10, 2002, the date  of
Adisons  birth,  and REMAND for recalculation of  Hagbergs  child
support   arrearage.   We  AFFIRM  the  trial  courts  visitation
schedule  but REMAND regarding the calculation and allocation  of
visitation  expenses.   Finally,  we  AFFIRM  the  trial   courts
decision  to  award  Hagberg the federal  income  tax  dependency
exemption.
_______________________________
     1    In the meantime, Skinner appealed from the trial courts
September 2006 order.

     2      Judge  Pengillys  original  oral  ruling  and   Judge
Blankenships  September 2006 confirmatory written order  provided
that  Hagberg  would receive a reduction in his  ongoing  monthly
child support obligation in the form of a credit for one-half the
monthly  visitation costs.  This well may have been  an  improper
support  modification reducing Hagbergs monthly child support,  a
modification  that  was  unsupported by any  material  change  in
circumstances.  Cf. Alaska R. Civ. P. 90.3(h).  Judge Blankenship
corrected  any  such  error by modifying  the  custody  order  to
indicate that Father shall be responsible for payment of all  the
visitation  travel expenses until his child support arrearage  is
satisfied, with [the Father] receiving a credit of $240 (for one-
half  of the estimated travel expenses per month) per month  from
September   through  May  against  his  child  support  arrearage
obligation . . . .  (Emphasis added.)  This latter approach  does
not present a problem because any additional sums paid by Hagberg
would  only be credited to offset his arrears, not deducted  from
his ongoing monthly child support obligation.

     3     See  Rubright  v. Arnold, 973 P.2d  580,  586  (Alaska
1999); State, Dept of Revenue, Child Support Enforcement Div.  ex
rel.  Hawthorne  v.  Rios,  938 P.2d 1013,  1015  (Alaska  1997);
Matthews v. Matthews, 739 P.2d 1298, 1299 (Alaska 1987).

     4    VinZant v. Elam, 977 P.2d 84, 86 (Alaska 1999).

     5    Guin v. Ha, 591 P.2d 1281, 1284 n.6 (Alaska 1979).

     6     Siekawitch  v. Siekawitch, 956 P.2d 447,  451  (Alaska
1998)  (citing  Borchgrevink v. Borchgrevink, 941 P.2d  132,  137
(Alaska   1997))  (concluding  that  the  trial  courts  findings
adequately revealed its reasoning even though the court  did  not
expressly refer to AS 25.24.150(c), because they provided a clear
indication of the factors the court found important).

     7     Lone  Wolf  v. Lone Wolf, 741 P.2d 1187, 1190  (Alaska
1987);  see also C.R.B. v. C.C., 959 P.2d 375, 384 (Alaska  1998)
(applying   abuse  of  discretion  standard  to   allocation   of
visitation  expenses), overruled on other  grounds  by  Evans  v.
McTaggart, 88 P.3d 1078, 1085 (Alaska 2004).

     8     Ginn-Williams  v.  Williams, 143  P.3d  949,  952  n.3
(Alaska 2006).

     9     Vezey  v.  Green,  171 P.3d 1125, 1128  (Alaska  2007)
(citing  Sengupta v. Univ. of Alaska, 21 P.3d 1240, 1248  (Alaska
2001)).

     10    Comment VI.E.1 to Alaska Civil Rule 90.3 states:

          It  will sometimes be necessary for the court
          to  establish  support for  a  time  when  no
          complaint  or  petition for support  had  yet
          been served, and there was no other court  or
          administrative  order in effect.   The  court
          has  determined that Civil Rule 90.3  applies
          to  such  calculations.  Vachon v.  Pugliese,
          931   P.2d   371,  381-[8]2  (Alaska   1996).
          However, in some circumstances unfairness may
          result  from rigid application of  the  rule.
          The   court  should  consider  all   relevant
          factors   in  such  a  situation,   including
          whether  the obligor was aware of the support
          obligation,  especially if  the  obligor  had
          children subsequent to that child.
          
     11    State, Dept of Revenue, Child Support Enforcement Div.
ex rel. Hawthorne v. Rios, 938 P.2d 1013 (Alaska 1997).

     12    Id. at 1015.

     13    Id.

     14    Id. at 1017 n.8.

     15    See id. at 1015.

     16    Rubright v. Arnold, 973 P.2d 580 (Alaska 1999).

     17    Id. at 581-82.

     18    Id. at 586.

     19     Id.; see also Vachon v. Pugliese, 931 P.2d at  381-82
(decided  after Civil Rule 90.3 came into existence  and  holding
that absent extraordinary circumstances, the support calculations
of  Rule  90.3  should be used to determine  past  child  support
obligations).

     20    Rubright, 973 P.2d at 586.

     21     Id.;  Rios, 938 P.2d at 1015;  Matthews, 739 P.2d  at
1299.

     22     Alaska R. Civ. P. 90.3(c)(1) (emphasis added).  Civil
Rule 90.3(c)(1) provides:
               The  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.   The  court
          must  specify in writing the reason  for  the
          variation, the amount of support which  would
          have been required but for the variation, and
          the  estimated value of any property conveyed
          instead of support calculated under the other
          provisions  of  this rule.   Good  cause  may
          include  a finding that unusual circumstances
          exist which require variation of the award in
          order to award an amount of support which  is
          just and proper for the parties to contribute
          toward  the  nurture and education  of  their
          children.   The  court  shall  consider   the
          custodial    parents    income    in     this
          determination.
          
     23    Alaska R. Civ. P. 90.3, cmt. VI.E.1; see supra note 10.

     24    Nevertheless, we note that Adison now is six years old.
He  likely will start kindergarten this year, at which  time  the
court-ordered  visitation  schedule  changes  significantly.   On
remand  regarding  the  child  support  calculation  issues,  the
parties  and  the  trial  court will be in  a  good  position  to
evaluate  the  current visitation schedule and determine  whether
adjustments in the upcoming schedule are appropriate.

     25    State, Dept of Revenue, Child Support Enforcement Div.
ex  rel.  Valdez v. Valdez, 941 P.2d 144, 154 n.14 (Alaska  1997)
(The  right  to support is that of the child and thus  cannot  be
waived by CSED.).

     26    AS 25.24.152(a) provides:

          (a)   In  an action for divorce, dissolution,
          or  to declare a marriage void, the court may
          not  unconditionally grant to a  noncustodial
          parent  the  right  to claim  a  child  as  a
          dependent under federal income tax laws.  The
          court  may  grant a noncustodial  parent  the
          right  to claim a child as a dependent  under
          federal  tax  laws  for a  tax  year  if  the
          noncustodial     parent     satisfies     the
          requirements of federal law and  was  not  in
          arrears  at  the end of the tax  year  in  an
          amount  more  than  four  times  the  monthly
          obligation under
          
          (1)   a support order applicable to the child
          in  cases  where a payment schedule  has  not
          been  established for payment  of  continuing
          support  and  accumulated arrears  under  the
          support order; or
          
          (2)  a payment schedule if a payment schedule
          has   been   established   for   payment   of
          continuing  support  and accumulated  arrears
          under  a  support  order  applicable  to  the
          child.
          
(Emphasis added.)

     27    See VinZant v. Elam, 977 P.2d 84, 87 (Alaska 1999).

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