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You can search the entire site. or go to the recent opinions, or the chronological or subject indices. Brotherton v. Warner (10/8/2010) sp-6521

Brotherton v. Warner (10/8/2010) sp-6521

        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 

DOUGLAS W. BROTHERTON,                              ) 
                                                    )    Supreme Court No. S-13541 
                        Appellant,                  ) 
                                                    )    Superior Court No. 3AN-94-01210 CI 
        v.                                          ) 
                                                    )    O P I N I O N 
DOUGLAS WARNER and                                  ) 
PAMELA J. NEISWANGER,                               )   No. 6521 - October 8, 2010 
                                                    ) 
                        Appellees.                  ) 
                                                    ) 

                Appeal from the Superior Court of the State of Alaska, Third 
                Judicial District, Anchorage, Mark Rindner, Judge. 

                Appearances:         Douglas     Brotherton,     pro   se,  Anchorage, 
                Appellant.       Notice   of   non-participation   filed   by   Michael 
                Gershel,   Law   Office   of   Michael   Gershel,   Anchorage,   for 
                Appellees Douglas Warner and Pamela J. Neiswanger. 

                Before:     Fabe,   Winfree,   Christen,   and   Stowers,   Justices. 
                [Carpeneti, Chief Justice, not participating.] 

                CHRISTEN, Justice. 

I.      INTRODUCTION 

                Douglas   Brotherton   appeals   a   superior   court   order   extending   his   child 

support obligation for his 18-year-old son Nicholas through Nicholas's graduation from 

high school pursuant to AS 25.24.170(a).            Douglas argues that the superior court erred 

in   interpreting   both   AS   25.24.170(a)   and  a   stipulation   setting   out   his   child   support 

----------------------- Page 2-----------------------

obligation.   He also argues that the superior court committed various procedural errors. 

We disagree, and affirm the superior court's order. 

II.     FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS 

                Douglas   and   Tahni   Brotherton   married   on   October   1,   1981   and   were 

divorced     on   April  18,   1995.     They   have  two    children    together:   Benjamin,     born 

June 26, 1988, and Nicholas, born October 5, 1990. 

                In 2005 Nicholas and Benjamin went to stay with Tahni's brother and 
sister-in-law, Douglas Warner and Pamela Neiswanger (the Warners).1  In April 2006 the 

Warners initiated legal action to attain custody of Nicholas.            Douglas and the Warners 

subsequently stipulated to entry of an Order for Temporary Placement, Legal Custody 

and    Child   Support    Re:   Minor    Child   concerning     Nicholas    (the  stipulation).    The 

stipulation   granted   the   Warners   legal   custody   of   Nicholas,   one-half   of   the   monthly 
support payments Tahni paid to Douglas,2 and $500 per month from Douglas "for so long 

as   the  [Warners]   have     legal  custody    and   physical   placement     of   Nicholas."    The 

stipulation acknowledged that this arrangement was a "temporary placement," called for 

Douglas and Nicholas to participate in counseling, and stated that the parties' goal was 

"to   reunite   Nicholas   and   his   father." The   stipulation   also   noted   that   the   "unusual" 

circumstances of the case (Benjamin was to reside with his father, and Nicholas was to 

        1       We adopt the naming convention used in Douglas and Pamela's Opposition 

to Douglas Brotherton's Motion for Reconsideration, April 2009. 

        2       From July 1, 2004, until they went to stay with the Warners, Douglas had 

full physical custody of both boys.        A November 29, 2004 court order set out Tahni's 
obligation to pay Douglas monthly child support.  The stipulation provided for one-half 
of these payments to go to Warners until Tahni no longer owed support for Benjamin, at 
which point Tahni would continue to make  support payments directly to whomever 
maintained custody of Nicholas. 

                                                  -2-                                            6521
 

----------------------- Page 3-----------------------

reside with the Warners) merited a variance from the calculation of child support under 

Alaska Civil Rule 90.3. 

                On October 5, 2008, Nicholas turned eighteen while enrolled in the twelfth 

grade at Service High School. The Warners notified the Child Support Services Division 

(CSSD) that Nicholas was still in high school and requested post-majority support.  On 

October     23,   2008,   CSSD     responded     and  notified   Douglas     that  his  child  support 

obligation had been extended through Nicholas's anticipated graduation in May 2009. 

Douglas objected, arguing that the terms of the stipulation precluded the grant of post- 

majority support.     CSSD responded that the parties' stipulation "did not supersede the 

original   child   support,"   and   referred   to   the   court   order   describing   Tahni's   support 
obligation to Douglas.3      Douglas argued that because the order applied to Tahni, it did 

not    provide    a   basis   for  imposing      a  child   support    obligation     on   him.     On 

December 31, 2008, CSSD sent Douglas and the Warners a Notice of Intent to Close 

Case which stated that "[t]here is no current support order." On January 26, 2009, CSSD 

notified Douglas that he had overpaid child support by $844.77 because post-majority 

support     had   been   automatically     deducted    from   his   paycheck    after   Nicholas    was 
"emancipated effective October 31, 2008."4 

        3       Tahni's support obligation was memorialized on a standardized "Order for 

Modification of Child Support" form. The form provides that post-majority support must 
continue while an 18-year-old is enrolled in high school unless the parties specifically 
opt out of this obligation by checking a box.            The box was not checked, so Tahni's 
support obligation continued after the boys turned 18. 

        4       CSSD notified the Warners that they had received the overpayment on 

February 4, 2009. 

                                                  -3-                                            6521
 

----------------------- Page 4-----------------------

                 In February 2009 the Warners filed a Motion to Continue Child Support 
Obligation pursuant to AS 25.24.170(a),5 requesting that the superior court order post- 

majority     support    from    Douglas     through  Nicholas's        graduation     from    high   school. 

Douglas opposed the motion on the grounds of improper venue and misinterpretation of 

the stipulation, and also filed a motion for award of judgment requesting that the court 

require the Warners to repay the $844.77 overpayment identified by CSSD. The superior 

court   issued   an   order   on   March  20,   2009   extending   Douglas's   support   obligation 

"through   the   month   of   [Nicholas's]   nineteenth   (19th)   birthday,   so   long   as   [he]   is 

(1)   unmarried,   (2)   actively   pursuing   a   high   school   diploma   or   equivalent   level   of 

technical or vocational training, and (3) living as a dependent with . . . [the Warners] or 

a designee of the [Warners]." The superior court also issued an order denying Douglas's 

motion for judgment. Douglas filed two motions for reconsideration, which were denied. 

Douglas appeals the superior court's extension of child support, denial of judgment 

against the Warners for $844.77, and denial of his motions for reconsideration. 

        5        AS 25.24.170(a) provides that: 

                 [A]ny   time   after   judgment   the   court,   upon   the   motion   of 
                 either party, may set aside, alter, or modify so much of the 
                 judgment   as   may   provide   for   .   .   .   the   care,   nurture,   and 
                 education of unmarried 18-year-old children of the marriage 
                 while they are actively pursuing a high school diploma or an 
                 equivalent level of technical or vocational training and living 
                 as   dependents   with   a   parent,   guardian,   or   designee   of   the 
                 parent or guardian. 

                                                     -4-                                               6521
 

----------------------- Page 5-----------------------

III.    STANDARD OF REVIEW
 

                Interpretation of an agreement between parties is a question of law to which 
we apply our independent judgment.6 

                The interpretation of a statute is also a question of law reviewed according 

to our independent judgment and "according to reason, practicality, and common sense, 

considering   the   meaning   of   the   statute's  language,     its  legislative  history,   and   its 
purpose."7 

                We "will not disturb the trial court's factual findings unless those findings 
are clearly erroneous."8     We review the superior court's procedural decisions for abuse 

of   discretion.9  We   also   review   denial   of   a   motion   for   reconsideration   for   abuse   of 

discretion.10   We will find an abuse of discretion "only when, after reviewing the entire 

record, we are left with a definite and firm conviction that the lower court erred."11 

        6       Hixson v. Sarkesian, 66 P.3d 753, 757 (Alaska 2003) (citing Flannery v. 

Flannery, 950 P.2d 126, 129 (Alaska 1998)). 

        7       Parson v. State, Dep't of Revenue, Alaska Hous. Fin. Corp., 189 P.3d 1032, 

1036 (Alaska 2008) (citing Grimm v. Wagoner, 77 P.3d 423, 427 (Alaska 2003)). 

        8       T. Ferguson Const., Inc. v. Sealaska Corp., 820 P.2d 1058, 1062 (Alaska 

1991). 

        9       Rockstad v. Erikson, 113 P.3d 1215, 1220 (Alaska 2005). 

        10      Smith v. Groleske, 196 P.3d 1102, 1105 (Alaska 2008). 

        11      Id. at 1105-06. 

                                                  -5-                                           6521
 

----------------------- Page 6-----------------------

IV.     DISCUSSION 
 

        A.	     The   Superior   Court   Correctly   Granted   The   Warners'   Motion   To 
                Continue Douglas's Child Support Obligation. 

                The superior court awarded the Warners post-majority support for Nicholas 

based upon AS 25.24.170(a) and Scully v. Scully, where we held that "it should be the 

exceptional case in which a court declines to extend child support payments beyond the 

child's eighteenth birthday where [the] statutory requirements [for AS 25.24.170(a)] have 
been met."12     Douglas argues that the superior court erred in granting the motion to 

extend because: (1) the parties' stipulation precluded an award of post-majority support; 

(2) AS 25.24.170(a) does not apply to the Warners; and (3) the Warners' motion was not 

timely. 

                1. 	    The 2006 stipulation does not preclude post-majority support; 
                        evidence indicates that the parties anticipated support would 
                        continue post-majority. 

                Douglas   argues   that   the  superior   court   erred   by   granting   post-majority 

support because the parties' stipulation precludes such an award.                 He relies upon the 

following language from the stipulation: 

                Beginning      in  July,   2006   and   lasting   for  so   long   as   the 
                Intervenors   have   legal   custody   and   physical   placement   of 
                Nicholas, [Douglas] shall satisfy his child support obligation 
                to the [Warners] as follows . . . . (Emphasis in Appellant's 
                Brief.)[13] 

        12      987 P.2d 743, 747 (Alaska 1999). 

        13      Douglas   also   cites   to   AS   25.20.010,   which   states   that:   "A   person   is 

considered to have arrived at majority at the age of 18, and thereafter has control of the 
person's own actions and business and has all the rights and is subject to all the liabilities 
of citizens of full age, except as otherwise provided by statute." 

                                                   -6-	                                            6521
 

----------------------- Page 7-----------------------

The agreement also twice specifies that the Warners' custody of Nicholas was to be 

 "temporary." 

                We have explained that: 

                Our primary goal in contract interpretation is to give effect to 
                the parties' reasonable expectations.  We discern the parties' 
                reasonable      expectations     by   looking    first  at  the  written 
                agreement and also extrinsic evidence regarding the parties' 
                intent at the time the contract was made.[14] 

The stipulation's plain language makes clear that the parties' originally intended the 

custody agreement to be temporary; the stipulation was to expire when Nicholas was 

reunited with his father.  That said, we see nothing in the text of the stipulation that can 

fairly be construed as an agreement by the Warners to forfeit the possibility of post- 

majority support if Nicholas did not reunite with his father.  We also find nothing in the 

record supporting the assertion that Douglas and the Warners consciously bargained for 

the provision of post-majority support.  The record supports the superior court's finding 

that, at the July 26, 2006 settlement proceedings, "it was never suggested that the ending 

of child support at age 18 was a quid pro quo for the agreement.                 To the contrary, the 

hearing indicated that while deviation in the amount of child support was considered, the 
duration was not."15 

        14       Van Alfen v. Van Alfen, 909 P.2d 1075, 1077 n.5 (Alaska 1996) (internal 

citations omitted). 

        15      During the settlement proceedings, the parties reviewed the elements of the 

stipulation and discussed the ramifications of Douglas's possible job change.                   But the 
parties did not address the end-point of the agreement or the possibility of post-majority 
support,   and   the   superior   court   affirmatively   noted   that   it   was   not   clear   that   the 
stipulation was only for the short-term.  At no point during the hearings held on July 20, 
23, or 26 did the parties make any statements manifesting an intent to preclude post- 
majority support, or acknowledging such preclusion as part of the bargaining process. 

                                                   -7-                                               6521 

----------------------- Page 8-----------------------

                Tahni's support obligation to Douglas reinforces the conclusion that the 

parties acknowledged the need for support to continue until Nicholas and Benjamin 

completed high school.          The order setting out Tahni's support obligation to Douglas 

required that her support payments would continue after the boys' 18th birthdays so long 
as they were in high school.16         Indeed, Tahni paid Douglas child support for eleven 

months after Benjamin's 18th birthday.  Tahni's obligation to pay Douglas child support 

for Nicholas also continued after Nicholas turned 18.  And the stipulation's treatment of 

Tahni's obligation indicates that her support payments for the boys would continue 

regardless of where they resided. Because the stipulation did not expressly address post- 

majority support, and because Tahni's support obligation indicates that the parties clearly 

contemplated the need to support both boys after age 18, we conclude that the superior 

court   correctly   decided   that   the   parties'   stipulation   did   not   preclude   post-majority 

support. 

                2.	     The   superior   court   correctly   applied   AS   25.24.170(a)   to the 
                        Warners. 

                Douglas argues that AS 25.24.170(a) does not apply in this case because 

"the Warners do not meet the statutory requirement of 'parent, guardian, or designee of 

the parent or guardian.' " 

                In 1984, our court held that AS 25.24.170(a) did not permit courts to award 
post-majority     support.17    But   the   legislature   changed   the   entrance   age   for   public 

kindergarten in 1988, resulting in a marked increase in the number of children turning 

        16      The order requires that support continue "while each child is 18 years old 

if the child is (1) unmarried, (2) actively pursuing a high school diploma or equivalent 
level of technical or vocational training, and (3) living as a dependent with the obligee 
parent or guardian or designee of the parent or guardian." 

        17      Dowling v. Dowling, 679 P.2d 480, 483 (Alaska 1984). 

                                                  -8-	                                            6521
 

----------------------- Page 9-----------------------

                                                     18 In response, Representative Fran Ulmer 
18 before their graduation from high school. 

sponsored a bill to amend AS 25.24.170(a) in 1992 to address the fact that, with the 

change in school-entrance age, "many Alaska children must complete their final year of 

high school without the benefit of financial support from the non-custodial parent," and 
many families may thus be forced to resort to public assistance.19   The bill's passage 

amended AS 25.24.170(a) to fill this gap, providing support for children who reach the 

age of majority but remain enrolled in high school and living in the home of "a parent, 
guardian, or designee of the parent or guardian."20 

                Douglas argues that while the Warners may have been a "designee of the 

parent or guardian" before Nicholas turned 18, this status expired when he reached the 

age of majority and could no longer be subject to the "legal custody" of another person. 

We     disagree.      Douglas's     interpretation    of  AS    25.24.170(a)     renders    the  statute 

meaningless; if support were tied to legal custody, the superior court could never award 

child   support   after   a   child's   18th   birthday. We   construe   statutes   according   to   the 
legislature's intent,21 and the clear intent of the amendment to AS 25.24.170(a) - to 

provide support for children who reach the age of 18 while still living as dependents of 

their parents or other parties and attending high school - would be frustrated if the 

definitions of "parent," "guardian," and "designee" were premised upon the existence of 

a legal custody relationship. For this reason, we conclude that the fact that Nicholas was 

        18      Scully v. Scully, 987 P.2d 743, 744 (Alaska 1999). 

        19      Id. at 744-45 (quoting Memorandum from Representative Fran Ulmer to 

Co-Chairs of House Health, Education and Social Services Committee (Feb. 3, 1992)). 

        20      Id. at 745 (quoting AS 25.24.170(a)). 

        21      Nat'l Bank of Alaska v. Ketzler, 71 P.3d 333, 334-35 (Alaska 2003). 

                                                  -9-                                             6521
 

----------------------- Page 10-----------------------

in the custody of third-party "designees," rather than one of his parents, does not affect 

application of the statute. 

                Douglas      also   argues    that  the   superior    court   erred   by   relying    on 
AS 25.24.170(a) and Scully v. Scully22 because both authorities leave an award of post- 

majority support to the discretion of the court and allow that in an "exceptional case" 

such support may not be appropriate.           The fact that courts have discretion in this area 

does not provide any basis for Douglas's assertion of error by the superior court.                 The 

stipulation's acknowledgment that Nicholas's custody arrangement was "an unusual 

circumstance" merely characterized the custody situation; it does  not, absent additional 

facts, indicate that this is an "exceptional case" within the meaning of Scully. 

                3.	     The     Warners'      motion    was    timely   and    did   not   establish   a 
                        retroactive child support arrearage. 

                Douglas   argues   that   the   superior  court   erred   by   granting   the   Warners' 

motion to extend child support because it was not timely and because, by granting the 

motion, the court effectively established a retroactive child support arrearage in violation 

of   Alaska    Civil   Rule   90.3(h)(2).    The    Warners'     motion    to  extend    was   filed  on 

February 18, 2009, four months after Nicholas turned 18.                  The superior court order 

extended Douglas's support obligation from the date of Nicholas's 18th birthday. 

                        i.      The Warners' motion was timely. 

                Douglas's assertion that the Warners' motion was not timely rests on our 
decision inBennett v. LeBlanc.23  In Bennett, we upheld a superior court decision denying 

a party's motion for post-majority support when the party waited to file a request for 

        22	     987 P.2d 743 (Alaska 1999). 

        23      2002 WL 1998451 (Alaska Aug. 28, 2002).  We note that Bennett is a non- 

precedential memorandum opinion and thus offers only non-binding guidance in this 
case. 

                                                  -10-	                                             6521 

----------------------- Page 11-----------------------

support until after the child had both turned 19 and completed high school.24                     Bennett 

does indicate that it can be within the discretion of the superior court to deny an untimely 

motion   for   post-majority   support,   but   it   does  not   undermine   the   superior   court's 

extension   of   Douglas's   support   award.        Within   weeks  of   Nicholas's   birthday,   the 

Warners pursued post-majority support through CSSD.                     And they filed the motion to 

extend child support less than a month after CSSD decided that there was no post- 

majority   support   obligation   under   the   existing   support   order.      The   situation   here   is 

fundamentally   different   from   that   confronted   by   the   superior   court   in Bennett:   it   is 

undisputed that Douglas had notice of the Warners' request for post-majority support in 

the month Nicholas turned 18.  It was not an abuse of discretion for the superior court to 

treat the motion to extend as timely filed, and to extend child support from the date of 

Nicholas's birthday. 

                         ii.	    The Warners' motion did not establish a retroactive child 
                                 support arrearage. 

                 Douglas's assertion that the superior court established a retroactive child 

support obligation relies on our decision in State, Department of Revenue, Child Support 
Enforcement   Division   v.   McCormick.25           Specifically,   Douglas's   argument   turns   on 

interpretation of the following paragraph from that decision: 

                 When a support order by its own terms expires upon a child's 
                 eighteenth birthday, a later order providing for post-majority 
                 support does not modify any provision of the original order; 
                 it   extends   the   order   to   a   time   period   not   covered   by   the 
                 original order.   Thus, barring an affirmative provision in the 
                 original   support   order   or   in   an   incorporated   agreement 
                 establishing     that   the  issue   of  post-majority     support    was 
                 expressly considered and decided, a subsequent motion to 

        24	      Id. at *1-2. 

        25       3 P.3d 930 (Alaska 2000). 

                                                   -11-                                                 6521 

----------------------- Page 12-----------------------

                extend the duration of support is not a motion to modify the 
                original      order    and    need     not    allege    a   change      of 
                circumstances.[26] 

Nothing in the parties' stipulation affirmatively establishes any position on post-majority 

support.     McCormick   thus   undermines   Douglas's   argument:   because   post-majority 

support was not expressly addressed in the parties' stipulation, the Warners' motion to 

extend child support did not retroactively modify the original support agreement in 
violation of Civil Rule 90.3(h)(2).27         The order granting the Warners' motion simply 

extended Douglas's support obligation to a time period not addressed by the existing 
support order, a practice we have previously affirmed.28 

                To the extent Douglas argues he did not receive adequate notice of the 

extension of his support obligation, he is mistaken.  Although the Warners' motion did 

not   seek   modification   of   the   original   support   agreement,   the   notice   requirements 

governing a motion to modify were satisfied here.                We have held that "absent good 

cause,   a   modified   child   support   order   should   be  effective   from   the   date   the   parent 
receives notice that a modification is being considered."29           Douglas received notice from 

        26      Id. at 931 (emphasis added). 

        27      See also Benson v. Benson, 977 P.2d 88, 92 (Alaska 1999) (holding that the 

retroactive application of the child support formula in Civil Rule 90.3 to a period of years 
in which there was no existing child support order did not violate Rule 90.3(h)(2)'s 
prohibition on retroactive modification of arrears). 

        28      Id.; see also Vachon v. Pugliese, 931 P.2d 371, 382 (Alaska 1996) (noting 

that an award of child support for a past period during which there was no existing 
support order does not violate Rule 90.3(h)(2)'s prohibition on retroactive modification 
of support arrearages). 

        29      State, Dep't of Revenue, Child Support Servs. Div. v. Wise, 122 P.3d 212,
 

214 (Alaska 2005) (discussing State, Dep't of Revenue, Child Support Enforcement Div.
 
                                                                                         (continued...)
 

                                                  -12-                                               6521 

----------------------- Page 13-----------------------

CSSD that his support obligation was to be extended on October 23, 2008.  Because this 

notice was given the same month that Nicholas turned 18, the superior court did not err 

in ordering that the support obligation continue uninterrupted from Nicholas's birthday. 

        B.	     Any Error By The Superior Court In Denying Douglas's Motion For 
                Judgment Was Harmless Error. 

                Douglas argues that the superior court erred by denying the motion for a 

judgment of $844.77, the amount CSSD determined he had overpaid after Nicholas 

reached the age of 18.      Douglas raises three arguments on this point: (1) the superior 

court exceeded its authority by overturning a CSSD administrative decision; (2) he was 

entitled to judgment as a matter of law because the Warners did not oppose his motion 

for judgment; and (3) the CSSD-determined overpayment was an independent obligation 

that should have been enforced regardless of the superior court's extension of the support 

award. 

                1. 	    It was harmless error for the superior court to address CSSD's 
                        interpretation of Douglas's child support obligation in its order 
                        denying judgment. 

                Douglas argues that the superior court overstepped its authority when it 

denied     his  motion   for  judgment     because    the court's   order   "overturn[ed]   CSSD's 

administrative ruling [interpreting the stipulation]."  Douglas specifically objects to the 

emphasized portion of the following passage from the superior court's order: 

                CSSD suggested there was an overpayment of child support 
                based on their interpretation that support was to end when 
                Nicholas     turned    18.     But   the   court    has   found    that 
                interpretation   to   be   wrong   and   has   extended   the   support 
                obligation.   Consequently there is no basis for a judgment. 

        29(...continued) 

v. Dillon, 977 P.2d 118, 119-20 (Alaska 1999)). 

                                                 -13-                                             6521 

----------------------- Page 14-----------------------

Douglas   argues  that   the   superior   court   exceeded   its   authority   by   declaring   CSSD's 

interpretation "wrong" because CSSD's administrative decision could only be challenged 
"in the form of a properly filed appeal."30  But Douglas's characterization of the superior 

court's order is erroneous:         the court order extending Douglas's support obligation did 

not actually conclude that CSSD's administrative decision incorrectly interpreted the 

original child support obligation. Rather, the superior court found that extrinsic evidence 

indicated   that   the   parties   did   not   expressly   address   post-majority   support   in   their 

stipulation.      This   is   why   the   superior  court   was   free   to   extend   the   child   support 

obligation.      We   agree   that   it   was   confusing  for   the   superior   court's   order   denying 

judgment to have characterized CSSD's interpretation of the stipulation as "wrong," but 

this misstatement was harmless error. It is not grounds to overturn or vacate the superior 
court's order on the Warners' motion to extend child support.31 

                 2.	     The superior court did not err by denying Douglas's motion for 
                         judgment, even though the Warners never opposed it. 

                 Douglas argues that the superior court erred by denying his motion for 

judgment because the Warners never responded to this motion.                    Douglas's argument is 

legally incorrect.   We have consistently held that "[t]he fact that a motion is uncontested 
does not mean that it must be granted as a matter of right."32   The superior court was 

         30      Under      AS   25.27.210(a),      judicial   review    of   administrative      decisions 

"establishing or modifying a duty of support or amounts of support due" is permitted 
only   "by   filing   a   notice   of   appeal   in   accordance   with   the   applicable   rules   of   court 
governing appeals in civil matters." 

         31      See Alaska Rule of Civil Procedure 61 ("[N]o error or defect in any ruling 

or order . . . is ground for . . . disturbing a judgment or order, unless refusal to take such 
action appears to the court inconsistent with substantial justice."). 

         32      Pomeroy v. Rizzo ex rel. C.R., 182 P.3d 1125, 1131 (Alaska 2008) (quoting 

Gallagher v. Gallagher, 866 P.2d 123, 124 (Alaska 1994)). 

                                                    -14-	                                             6521
 

----------------------- Page 15-----------------------

obligated   to   consider   and   decide   Douglas's   motion   on   its   merits,   even   though   the 

Warners never responded.          The contention that the      motion for judgment should have 

been granted because it was unopposed is contrary to Alaska law. 

                3.	     There was no over-payment. 

                Douglas argues that the superior court erred by denying his motion for 

judgment      because    CSSD's     determination     that  he  had   overpaid    his  child   support 

obligation by $844.77 created a distinct legal obligation unrelated to the court's award 

of post-majority support. 

                CSSD issued a notice of overpayment because it determined that Douglas 

was not obligated to pay post-majority support for Nicholas, and that he had made two 

support payments after Nicholas turned 18. Because we conclude that the superior court 

permissibly extended Douglas's support obligation, Douglas was required to pay child 

support to the Warners without interruption; there was no overpayment.                  The superior 

court correctly declined to enter judgment in Douglas's favor. 

        C.	     The     Superior      Court    Correctly      Denied     Douglas's      Motions For 
                Reconsideration. 

                Douglas argues that the superior court erred by denying his motions for 
reconsideration33 because the court "failed to address any of the points raised in said 

motion[s]."     Douglas's   motions   for   reconsideration   argued   that   the   superior   court: 

(1) "overlooked or misconceived" the fact that the stipulation provided for child support 

only when the Warners maintained "legal custody" of Nicholas and he remained living 

with them; (2) incorrectly applied AS 25.24.170(a) to the Warners, given that they were 

no longer Nicholas's legal guardians after he turned 18; (3) retroactively established 

        33      Douglas filed two separate motions for reconsideration, one addressing the 

award   of   post-majority   support   and   the   second   addressing   denial   of   his   motion   for 
judgment. 

                                                 -15-	                                             6521 

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child support arrears in violation of Civil Rule 90.3(h)(2); and (4) should have granted 

his motion for judgment as a matter of law because the Warners never contested CSSD's 

interpretation of the existing support agreement or its determination that overpayment 

had occurred. The superior court's order denying reconsideration did not directly address 
the merits of each of these arguments,34 but the court was not required to do so. With one 

exception, the motions for reconsideration reiterated points previously made in motions 

that had been considered and correctly denied by the superior court.            Douglas's new 

argument, that the court should have granted his motion for judgment because it was 

unopposed,      is  both  legally  incorrect   and  an   improper     basis  for  a  motion    for 
reconsideration.35   The superior court's denial of Douglas's motions for reconsideration, 

without further explanation, was not an abuse of discretion. 

V.      CONCLUSION 

               We AFFIRM the superior court's grant of post-majority support to the 

Warners and its denial of Douglas's motion for judgment. 

       34      The superior court's order stated only that, "The court believes that the 

court's authority to require child support beyond age 18 if the child remains in school 
extends to cases where the child is in the custody of third parties." 

       35      See Katz v. Murphy, 165 P.3d 649, 661 (Alaska 2007) ("Alaska Civil Rule 

77(k), which governs motions for reconsideration, does not allow the moving party to 
raise   new   grounds    as  a  basis  for  reconsideration;   instead   the  rule  only   allows 
reconsideration of points that were overlooked or misconceived despite having been 
properly raised."). 

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