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You can search the entire site. or go to the recent opinions, or the chronological or subject indices. Nicholas Ryan Dunn v Dakota Christine Jones (11/1/2019) sp-7416

Nicholas Ryan Dunn v Dakota Christine Jones (11/1/2019) sp-7416

           Notice:   This opinion is subject to correction before publication in the P                     ACIFIC  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, email  

                                                                                                                            

           corrections@akcourts.us.  



                       THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF ALASKA                                        



NICHOLAS  RYAN  DUNN,                                            )  

                                                                 )          Supreme  Court  No.  S-16685  

                                 Appellant,                      )  

                                                                                                                                       

                                                                 )          Superior Court No. 3AN-13-04609 CI  

           v.                                                    )  

                                                                 )                               

                                                                            O P I N I O N  

                                          

DAKOTA CHRISTINE JONES,                                          )                 

                                                                                                                      

                                                                         

                                                                 )         No. 7416 - November  1, 2019  

                                 Appellee.                       )  

                                                                  

_______________________________ )  



                                    

                                                                                                               

                      Appeal from the Superior Court of the State of Alaska, Third  

                                                                                                     

                      Judicial District, Anchorage, Frank A. Pfiffner, Judge.  



                                                                                                         

                      Appearances:               Nicholas   Ryan   Dunn,  pro   se,  Marion,  

                                                                                                                  

                      Arkansas,  Appellant.                   Dakota  Christine  Jones,  pro  se,  

                                           

                      Anchorage, Appellee.  



                                                                                                            

                      Before:  Stowers, Chief Justice, Winfree, Maassen, Bolger,  

                                           

                      and Carney, Justices.  



                                                      

                      STOWERS, Chief Justice.  



I.         INTRODUCTION  



                                                                                                                                  

                      A father sought to modify a child support order on the basis that his income  



                                                                                                                                  

had decreased.  Additionally, he asked that the support order be changed to not require  



                                                                                                                                        

him to contribute to the children's health insurance costs.  The superior court found that  



                                                                                                                                           

his gross income had changed by less than 15% and that he therefore was not entitled to  



                                                                                                                                    

a modification of child support.  And because the mother was now paying for health  


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

                                                                                                                             

insurance for the children, the court added a health insurance adjustment to its new  



                                                                                                                                     

support order while keeping the basic monthly amount the same.  The father appeals.  



                                                                                                                            

We conclude it was error for the superior court to determine that as a matter of law Dunn  



                                                                                                                                

was obligated to pay 50% of his children's health insurance costs.  Further, it was an  



                                                                                                                     

abuse of discretion for the court to decline to modify Dunn's child support obligation  



                                                                                                                         

without first calculating an updated adjusted annual income and monthly child support  



                                                                                                                                     

amount, and we reverse this order and the court's order regarding health insurance costs.  



                                                 

In all other respects, we affirm.  



                                  

II.       FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS  



                                                                                                                            

                    Nicholas Ryan Dunn and Dakota Christine Jones separated in 2012, when  



                                                                                                                            

Dunn left Alaska for Arkansas.  Dunn and Jones are the parents of two children.  Jones  



                                                                                              

is also the mother of two older children, who are not Dunn's children.  



                                                                                                                         

                    In a 2013 child custody determination, the superior court denied Dunn's  



                                                                                                                              

and Jones's requests for the termination of Dunn's parental rights. It awarded Jones sole  



                                                                                                                           

legal and sole physical custody of the children.  The court issued a child support order,  



                                                                                                                     

finding that Dunn's annual gross income was $35,360 and that his annual allowable  



                                                                                                                                     

deductions were $1,498.80 and requiring Dunn to pay $762 in child support each month.  



                                                                                                                       

Neither parent was required to purchase health insurance.  The court ordered that "[i]f  



                                                                                                                       

insurance becomes available to a parent at a reasonable cost, that parent must purchase  



                                                                                                                             

the insurance,"at which time "the monthly child support obligation will increase by 50%  



                                                                                                                            

of the cost of the insurance" if Jones purchased it or decrease by 50% of the cost if Dunn  



                 

purchased it.  



                                                                                                                                 

                    Dunn returned to Alaska in 2014 and alleges he and Jones reconciled in  



                                                                                                                               

October 2014 and lived together until separating again in May 2016. Jones concedes that  



                                                                                                                               

Dunn lived with her during that time and that she added him to her health insurance, but  



                                                                                                                                 

she alleges that they did not live together "as a couple" and that they "were trying to  



                                                                -2-                                                         7416
  


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reestablish a friendly relationship for only the children."                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       She asserts that if they had                                                                                                 



actually reconciled, Dunn would have sought to modify his child support                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  while in   



Alaska. Dunn argues that while he and Jones lived together, his child support payments                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            



constituted his contribution to the household expenses.                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Both agree that Dunn returned                                                                                     



to  Arkansas   in   2016   and   started   working   for   a   construction   company   and   that   he  



 subsequently quit (possibly in late October) and took a lower-paying job.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   



                                                                   In December 2016 Dunn filed a motion to modify child support, requesting                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             



the child support payments be reduced because his income had decreased.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               He also   



requested   the   court   change   the   support   order   to   no   longer   require   him   to   provide  



insurance for the children because he could not "afford medical on the children."                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              He  



attached a child support guidelines affidavit and copies of four pay stubs fromNovember                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       



and December 2016.                                                         



                                                                   Jones opposed the motion.                                                                                                              In her accompanying child support guidelines                                                                                                                                         



affidavit, she disputed Dunn's income calculations and provided her own calculations                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  



based on the pay stub with the second-highest pay of the four Dunn submitted.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Her  



affidavit also noted the children no longer had health insurance through a state children's                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     



insurance program as of August 2015 and that she was insuring them through her                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  



 employer at a monthly cost to her of $448.08.                                                                                                                                           



                                                                   The superior court held a hearing in February 2017. Dunn had been given                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             



leave to participate telephonically but did not call in; Jones was present. The court found                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          



that Dunn's decrease in income was less than 15% and therefore did not constitute a                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         1         The court  

material change of circumstances for purposes of modifying child support.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      



also took evidence on health insurance, calculated the costs of the children's  insurance,  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             



                                  1                                See   Alaska   R.   Civ.   P.   90.3(h)(1)   (presuming   a   material   change   in  



circumstances when amount of child support would vary by at least 15%fromthe current                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

amount.).  



                                                                                                                                                                                                                   -3-                                                                                                                                                                                                     7416
  


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

and found the costs reasonable.                                                                                It issued a child support order that retained the income                                                                                                             



and basic monthly child support amounts from the 2013 child support order and added                                                                                                                                                                                                     



a $157.50 health insurance adjustment (50% of Dunn's two children's health insurance                                                                                                                                                                                        



costs) to Dunn's total monthly support payments in accordance with the provision in the                                                                                                                                                                                                            



2013 order.   



                                               Dunn appeals, arguing that the court: (1) incorrectly determined that                                                                                                                                                                             his  



income had not decreased by more than 15%; (2) improperly adjusted the child support                                                                                                                                                                                               



upward   to   account   for   the   children's   health   insurance   costs;   (3)   misallocated   the  



insurance costs among the covered children (two of the four of whom were his); and (4)                                                                                                                                                                                                             



incorrectly found that the insurance costs were reasonable.                                                                                                          



III.                    STANDARDS OF REVIEW                                                  



                                               "Trial courts have broad discretion in deciding whether to modify child                                                                                                                                                                     



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2  

support orders,"and such determinations are reviewed                                                                                                                                      for abuseofdiscretion.                                                                          

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             An abuse  



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

ofdiscretion is found whereadecision is"arbitrary, capricious,manifestly unreasonable,  



                                                                                                                                                3  

                                                                                                                  

or . . . stem[s] from an improper motive." 



                                               "[F]actual findings, including findings regarding a party's income," are  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

reviewed for clear error.4                                                                 A factual finding is clearly erroneous if, "after reviewing the  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   



                       2                      Petrilla v. Petrilla                                           , 305 P.3d 302,                                    305-06 (Alaska 2013) (quoting                                                                              Olmstead  



v.  Ziegler, 42 P.3d 1102, 1104 (Alaska 2002)).                                                                                           



                       3                      Sharpe v. Sharpe, 366 P.3d 66, 68 (Alaska 2016) (alterations in original)  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

(quoting Morris v. Horn, 219 P.3d 198, 203-04 (Alaska 2009)).  

                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                       4                      Shanigan  v.  Shanigan,  386  P.3d  1238,  1240  (Alaska  2017)  (quoting  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

 Wilhour v. Wilhour, 308 P.3d 884, 887 (Alaska 2013)).  

                                                                                                                                                                       



                                                                                                                                                  -4-                                                                                                                                        7416
  


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

record as a whole, [we are] left with a definite and firm conviction that a mistake has                                                                   

been made."            5  



                         "Interpretation of the civil rules is a question of law that we review de  

                                                                                                                                                            

novo."6  



IV.	        DISCUSSION  



            A.	          It Was Not An Abuse Of Discretion To Rely On Pay Stub #1343 To  

                                                                                                                                                           

                         Calculate Dunn's Annual Gross Income.  

                                                                                          



                         Dunn argues that the superior court erred by calculating his annual income  

                                                                                                                                                   



based on a single pay stub, rather than averaging his weekly income from the four pay  

                                                                                                                                                          



stubs that were available to the court.   Dunn submitted pay stubs for the following  

                                                                                                                                              



amounts:  $297.00, $302.50, $588.50, and $638.00.  The superior court's calculation of  

                                                                                                                                                             



Dunn's new income relied on pay stub #1343, which shows a one-week gross pay of  

                                                                                                                                                            



$588.50.  Dunn argues the court should have averaged all four pay stubs.  

                                                                                                                             



                         "The ultimate goal of a [child] support determination 'is to arrive at an  

                                                                                                                                                            

income figure reflective of economic reality.' "7                                            In determining a party's income for  

                                                                                                                                                           



purposes of calculating a child support order, the superior court has the discretion to  

                                                                                                                                                            

choose the best indicator of a party's income, considering the evidence presented.8  

                                                                                                                                                          



             5           Sharpe, 366 P.3d at 69 (alteration in original) (quoting                                            Bennett v. Bennett                ,  



6 P.3d 724, 726 (Alaska 2000)).                



             6	          Horne v. Touhakis, 356 P.3d 280, 282 (Alaska 2015).  

                                                                                                                 



             7           Farr v. Little, 411 P.3d 630, 635 (Alaska 2018) (quoting McDonald v.  

                                                                                                                                                             

Trihub, 173 P.3d 416, 427 (Alaska 2007)).  

                                                                   



             8           See  Coghill  v.  Coghill,  836  P.2d  921,  926  (Alaska  1992);  see  also  

                                                                                                                                                        

McDonald, 173 P.3d at426 n.33 (explaining that superior court "has discretion to choose  

                                                                                                                                                    

method best approximating obligor's [income] on basis of most complete evidence  

                                                                                                                                               

before it" (citing Coghill, 836 P.2d at 926)).  

                                                                       



                                                                             -5-	                                                                      7416
  


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                                                The court did not err by not relying on the two pay stubs with the lowest                                                                                                                                                                     



values - Dunn's first two pay stubs at his new job; the four pay stubs Dunn submitted                                                                                                                                                                                             



show   that   as  the   number   of   hours   he   worked   increased   each   week,   his   gross   pay  



increased correspondingly. The court reasonably could have determined these first two                                                                                                                                                                                                                   



pay stubs were not reflective of Dunn's "economic reality."                                                                                                                                                          Additionally, the court did                                                          



not err by not using the highest-value pay stub alone for its calculations.                                                                                                                                                                                       And the court                    



was not required to average the four pay stubs.                                                                                                                         It was not an abuse of discretion for the                                                                                          



court to rely on pay stub #1343 to calculate Dunn's annual income.                                                                                                                                                   



                        B.	                     It Was An Abuse Of Discretion To Decline To Modify Child Support                                                                                                                                                                      

                                                Without   First   Calculating   An   Updated   Monthly   Support   Amount  

                                                Under Alaska Civil Rule 90.3(a)(1) Using Available Figures.                                                                                                                                                                            



                                                Dunn also argues that the superior court erred by declining to modify his                                                                                                                                                                                  



monthly child support; he argues the court erred in calculating his income for purposes                                                                                                                                                                                               



of child support.                                           Alaska Civil Rule 90.3 governs child support awards.                                                                                                                                              It provides that                          



"[a] child support award . . . will be calculated as an amount equal to the adjusted annual                                                                                                                                                                                                   



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   9  

income   of   the   non-custodial   parent   multiplied   by   [the   applicable]   percentage."   



                                                                                                                                                       

 Subsection (a)(1) defines adjusted annual income as the parent's total income from all  

                                                                                                                                                                                                10   To calculate the monthly child  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

sources minus the deductions enumerated in the Rule. 



support  amount,  the  court  must  then  multiply  the  parent's  adjusted  income  by  the  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         



percentage specified in Rule 90.3(a)(2), depending on the number of children involved,  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    



and then divide the resulting annual child support amount by 12.  Rule 90.3(h) addresses  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    



modification of child support.  A court may modify a final child support order "upon a  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  



                        9                       Alaska R. Civ. P. 90.3(a).                                                                    



                        10  

                                                                                                    

                                               Id. 90.3(a)(1).  



                                                                                                                                                      -6-                                                                                                                                                           7416  


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

                                                                                          11  

showing of a material change in circumstances."                                               "A material change of circumstances         



will be presumed if support calculated under [90.3(a)] is more than 15 percent greater                                                                

                                                                                12   When a court receives a motion to modify  

or less than the outstanding support order."                                                                                                          



alleging a material change in circumstances due to a change in a parent's income or  

                                                                                                                                                               



deductions, thecourt mustrecalculatetheparent's adjustedannualincome, then calculate  

                                                                                                                                                   



the parent's monthly child support obligation based on the parent's new adjusted annual  

                                                                                                                                                       



income,and finally compare the support amount to theamount in theoutstanding support  

                                                                                                                                                      



order.  

               



                         In  his  motion  to  modify  support,  Dunn  alleged  that  he  was  "making  

                                                                                                                                                  



significantly less at [his] current job."  Dunn filed his motion using a court form that  

                                                                                                                                                            



directed  him  to  "attach  any  documentation  you  have  that  supports  your  request.  

                                                                                                                                                   



Examples include pay stubs [and] tax returns."   As discussed above, Dunn attached  

                                                                                                                                                   



copies of four pay stubs.  The pay stubs included information about Dunn's income and  

                                                                                                                                                             



his deductions.  

       



                         The superior court did not follow the procedure outlined in Rule 90.3(a) in  

                                                                                                                                                                



concluding that Dunn had not demonstrated a material change in circumstances. Instead  

                                                                                                                                                      



it calculated Dunn's gross annual income as of the date of the hearing and compared it  

                                                                                                                                                                 



to Dunn's gross annual income as of the 2013 support order.  The court seems to have  

                                                                                                                                                          



implicitly concluded that any differences in Dunn's deductions were  irrelevant.  But in  

                                                                                                                                                                



this case the pay stubs submitted to the court contained information about Dunn's actual  

                                                                                                                                                        



deductions, and the court therefore should have used those numbers in determining  

                                                                                                                                            



Dunn's adjusted annual income.  Dunn's employer withheld $126.46 in federal, state,  

                                                                                                                                                         



Social Security, and Medicare taxes from pay stub #1343. If we annualize these figures,  

                                                                                                                                                     



             11          Id.  90.3(h)(1).   



             12          Id.   



                                                                               -7-                                                                             7416  


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

Dunn's adjusted annual income under Rule 90.3(a)(1) would thus be $24,026.08, his                                                                                                                              



total annual income of $30,602 ($588.50*52) minus his annual mandatory deductions                                                                                                          

                                                                     13     Under Rule 90.3(a), a parent with two children with an  

of $6,575.92 ($126.46*52).                                                                                                                                                                                      



                                                                                                                                                                                                               14  

adjusted annual income of $24,026.08 will pay $540.59 per month in child support.                                                                                                                                    

                                                                                                                                                                                           



                                 This new monthly child support amount is 29% lower than the amount  

                                                                                                                                                                                                   



Dunn had been paying under the 2013 order - $762 based on Dunn's adjusted annual  

                                                                                                                                                                                                      



income in  2013  of $33,861.20.                                                      Dunn thus  demonstrated a presumptive change in  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                



circumstances  under  Rule  90.3(h).                                                             The  superior  court  abused  its  discretion  by  

                                                                                                                                                                                                              



concluding that he had not done so, without first calculating Dunn's adjusted annual  

                                                                                                                                                                                                     



income and actual support amount in accordance with Rule 90.3(a) and without using  

                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Dunn's actual, available income and deductions.15                                                                                    We reverse the superior court's  

                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                 13              We note that reliance on information from a single pay stub to calculate                                                                                       



annual deductions is not the preferred method for estimating deductions.                                                                                                             It is possible     

that a parent's deductions may change over the course of the year. Many employers take                                                                                                                      

larger amounts of FICA from an employee's first paychecks and then discontinue this  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

deduction when the employee reaches the FICA ceiling.  And many employees take a  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

larger income tax withholding than necessary so they can receive a refund at the end of  

                                                                                                                                                                                                               

the year.  If a parent's actual tax returns are not available, the court should annualize the  

                                                                                                                                                                                                        

parent's incomeand recalculateapplicabledeductions fromtheannualized incomerather  

                                                                                                                                                                                                 

than  from a  single  paycheck.                                                 The  Alaska  Department  of  Revenue,  Child  Support  

                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Services  Division  provides  an  online  calculator  for  just  this  purpose.                                                                                                             Using  this  

                                                                                                                                                                                              

calculator we calculate an adjusted annual income for Dunn of $24,624.08.  See Child  

S u p p o r t                         C a l c u l a t o r ,                                C H I L D                     S U P P O R T                            S E R V S  .                     D I V  . ,  

                                                                                                                                                                                    

https://webapp.state.ak.us/cssd/guidelinecalc/form (last visited Sept. 11, 2019).  



                 14              Rule90.3(a)(2)(B) providesthat                                                 thenon-custodialparent'sadjustedincome                                               



                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

must be multiplied by 27% (0.27) to calculate the child support award for two children.  

The $540.59 figure is derived from $24,026.08*0.27/12.                                   



                 15              When  determining  whether  there  has  been  a  material  change  under  

                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Rule 90.3(h), courts should consider changes in health insurance costs and adjusted  

                                                                                                                                                                                     

                                                                                                                                                                                     (continued...)  



                                                                                                        -8-                                                                                               7416
  


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

decision that Dunn was not entitled to a monthly child support modification and remand                                                                                                         



to allow the court to obtain current financial information from Dunn and to recalculate                                                                                                



Dunn's monthly child support obligation based on that information.                                                                     



                C.	             It   Was   Error   To   Rule   As   A   Matter   Of   Law   That   Dunn   Was  

                                Responsible For 50% Of The Children's Health Insurance Costs.                                                                                            



                                Dunn argues that the cost of the health insurance Jones purchased for the                                                                                                 



children was not reasonable according to Rule                                                                90.3(d)(i) and that the superior court erred                                            



by requiring him to pay half of the cost rather than lowering his obligation for good                                                                                                               



cause.  



                                Under Rule 90.3(d)                                                                                                                             

                                                                                (1)(A)(i), the cost of heath insurance is presumptively  



                                                                                                                                                                                                         

reasonable if it "does not exceed five percent of the adjusted annual income of the  



                                                                                    16  

                                                                                                                                                                                                            

parent" purchasing the insurance.                                                           However, just because a cost of 5% or less is  



                                                                                                                                                                                                    

presumptively reasonable does not mean a higher cost cannot also be reasonable.  Here,  



                                                                                                                                                                                                     

the court made careful findings about the available insurance and its costs.  The court  



                                                                                                                                                            

found that the cost of the health insurance Jones purchased was more than 10% of her  



                                                                                                                                                                                                         

income but that it was nevertheless "reasonable because it's what's available and it's  



                                                                                                                                                                                                    

good coverage, and children should have coverage."  Jones testified that the four plans  



                                                                                                                                                                                            

available through her work were her only options for insurance and that she received  



                                                                                                                                                                                                         

help from human resources in "figur[ing] out which one was the best plan" for her  



                15              (...continued)  



                                                                                                                                                                                   

annual  income  separately  because  the  two  components  of  the  award  can  change  

                                                              

independently from each other.  



                16              "The court shall address coverage of the children's health care needs and  

                                                                                                                                                                                                         

require health insurance for the children if insurance is available to either parent at a  

                                                                                                                                                                                                              

reasonable cost and accessible to the children." Alaska R. Civ. P. 90.3(d)(1)(A). "There  

                                                                                                                                                                                                 

is a rebuttable presumption that the cost of health insurance is reasonable if the cost does  

                                                                                                                                                                                                       

not exceed five percent of the adjusted annual income of the parent who may be required  

                                                                                                                                                                                             

to purchase the insurance."  Id. 90.3(d)(1)(A)(i).  

                                                                                                                       



                                                                                                     -9-	                                                                                            7416
  


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

circumstances. She was unable to describe the specific differences between the plan she                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               



 selected and the other three plans, but she explained she had changed her insurance plan                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        



multiple times in the past two years.                                                                                                                                                        In the context of this evidence, the court did not                                                                                                                                                                                       



abuse its discretion by determining the insurance plan she selected and its cost were                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        



reasonable.  



                                                                    Rule 90.3(d)(1)(B) addresses allocation of health insurance costs between                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               



the parents, explaining that the "court shall allocate equally the cost of . . . insurance                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            



between the parties unless the court orders otherwise for good cause."                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Section VII(A)   



of the Commentary to Rule 90.3, which addresses health care coverage and health                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       



insurance, includes further direction on the allocation of health insurance costs:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     



                                                                                                      The health insurance will be paid by the party to whom                                                                                                                                                                                        

                                                                    it is available.                                                         However, the court must allocate the cost of                                                                                                                                                                               

                                                                    insurance   between   the   parties.    Note   that   the   cost   to   be  

                                                                    allocated is limited to that portion of the total cost necessary                                                                                                                                                                                             

                                                                    to ensure the children involved - not the parent, the parent's                                                                                                                                                                                                        

                                                                    new spouse or children of another relationship. . . .                                                                                                                                                                                                  



                                                                                                      The allocation of the cost of the children's insurance                                                                                                                                                                      

                                                                    between the parents should be 50/50 unless the court finds                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

                                                                    good    cause    to    change    that    percentage.      A    substantial  

                                                                    differencein theparties' relative financial                                                                                                                                                                    circumstances may   

                                                                    constitute good cause.                                                                                             The rule requires the court to adjust                                                                                                          

                                                                    child   support   either   upward   or   downward   to   reflect   the  

                                                                    allocation.   



                                                                    During the February 2017 hearing, the superior court totaled the cost of                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               



insurance for Jones's four children and found it was $290.81 biweekly.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The court   



indicated that the four children covered had to be considered equally "although that's not                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

                                                                                                                                 17  Because two of the children covered were Dunn's, the court  

the way the plan is done."                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   



                                  17                                A paycheck deductions page in the record lists the different amounts paid  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    (continued...)  



                                                                                                                                                                                                                  -10-                                                                                                                                                                                                         7416  


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

divided the total cost for all four children by two for a total of $145.40 biweekly; it then                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         



multiplied the biweekly cost by 26 to determine the annual cost and divided the result by                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        



 12 equaling a monthly cost for two children's insurance of $315.03.                                                                                                                                                                                                                   The court found                            



that Dunn should pay $157.52 per month, 50% of the cost of his children's health                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                



insurance.  



                                                      In ordering Dunn to pay half the costs of his children's health insurance,   



the superior court offered the following explanation:                                                                                                                                                                 



                                                      I'm   going   to   add   $157.52   a   month   to   his   child   support  

                                                      obligation, because you're paying for the medical insurance,                                                                                                                                          

                                                     which he's been skating on all along and hasn't paid any of   

                                                      it.   He's obligated under the law to - under 90.3 to pay 50%                                                                                                                                                                

                                                      of that, even if he can't afford it.                                                                                               So what?                                    It really doesn't                 

                                                     matter under the law.                                               



In               its               explanation                                             the                 court                         failed                         to              recognize                                       the                 discretion                                      built                      into  



Rule 90.3(d)(1)(B). Under Rule 90.3(d)(1)(B), the court "shall allocate equally the cost                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  



of . . . insurance between the parties unless the court orders otherwise for good cause."                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    



Because the superior court erroneously concluded that as a matter of law Dunn was                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         



obligated to pay half of the children's health insurance cost without recognizing the                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        



"good cause" variance provision of the Rule, we reverse and remand for the court to                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               



                           17                         (...continued)  



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

for  insurance  for   "Employee  Only,"  "Employee  +  1,"  "Employee  +  2,"  and  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

"Employee + 3 or more."  The page includes typed information (it is unclear who typed  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

it) listing the children by name and the cost of insurance for each type.  For example,  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

medical insurance is listed as costing $122.30 for Dunn's first child, $49.36 for Dunn's  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

second child, $49.37 for one of Jones's older children, and $0.00 (free) for Jones's other  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

older child.  The costs of dental and vision insurance are likewise listed per child.  



                                                                                                                                                                      -11-                                                                                                                                                             7416
  


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

consider whether there is good cause to not equally allocate the cost of the children's                                                                                                                                    

insurance.18  



                                      Dunn also argues that the "[c]ourt incorrectly ordered [him] to pay for  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               



health insurance to cover Ms. Jones['s] two other children."  It appears Dunn is arguing  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  



that the superior court erred by "allocating the total cost of the coverage pro rata among  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     



all of the children."  He argues "[t]he court had evidence of the incremental cost per  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               



child" and that because of the way the insurance plan was organized, he should be  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 



responsible for the incremental cost for his two children's insurance rather than the pro  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               



rata cost.  He further argues that even though Jones indicated that "dependent[s] 1 & 2  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     



are [Dunn's two children], the most expensive," Dunn's children should be considered  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                         



to be "dependents 3 & 4[,] which would make the cost for medical only $49.36, which  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

                                                                              19  He argues that "the court impermissibly deviated from the  

is more reasonably priced."                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

                                                        



bright line of Civil Rule 90.3 to punish [him] financially."  

                                                                                                                                   



                                      Under   Rule   90.3(d)(1)(C), "[i]f                                                           dependent   coverage   can   be   added   for   a  



single cost, rather than per dependent, and the dependent coverage covers dependents in                                                                                                                                                            



addition to the children subject to the order, the cost of the dependent coverage will be                                                                                                                                                         



allocated equally among the dependents covered."                                                                                                 The employee-only cost for Jones's                                                



insurance is $126.93 biweekly, and the cost of insurance for an "employee + 3 or more"                                                                                                                                                 



is $417.74, which means the children are added to the plan for a single cost of $290.81;                                                                                                                                       



                   18                 We do not express an opinion on whether the court should exercise its                                                                                                                                      



discretion to reduce Dunn's health insurance obligation on remand; we simply point out                                                                                                                                                         

the legal error the court made in misstating Rule 90.3(d)(1)(B) and failing to exercise its                                                                                                                                                       

discretion in the first instance.                                                        



                   19                 Dunn appears to be looking at the cost for medical insurance only, as his  



numbers omit the cost of dental and vision insurance, which were included in the court's  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

calculation.  The cost for the third child's medical insurance is actually listed as $49.37,  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

not $49.36, and the fourth child's medical insurance is listed as free.  

                                                                                                                                                                                        



                                                                                                                       -12-                                                                                                               7416
  


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

when that single cost is allocated equally among the four children, the cost of each                                                                                        



child's insurance is $72.70 biweekly.                     



                            As Dunn points out, the cost for adding each additional dependent to the                                                                           



plan   could  be   calculated   based   on   the   amounts   listed   for   "Employee   Only,"  



"Employee + 1," "Employee + 2," and "Employee + 3 or more," and those incremental                                                                            

                                                                                                                                    20       Dunn's  reading  is  

costs   are   actually   listed   for   each   of   Jones's   four   children.                                                                                                   



problematic, however.  Under his reading, in situations where the cost of adding each  

                                                                                                                                                                            



dependent is unequal, there would be questions of which dependent is which under the  

                                                                                                                                                                                



plan, and the insurance cost for a given dependent could vary widely depending on that  

                                                                                                                                                                              



determination. In this case, if Dunn's reading were followed, the biweekly cost of health  

                                                                                                                                                                         



insurance for his two children would be $224.04 if they were considered to be the first  

                                                                                                                                                                             



two dependents on the plan or $66.77 if they were considered to be the third and fourth  

                                                                                                                                                                         



dependents.                  We  conclude that the superior court's formulation of the costs of the  

                                                                                                                                                                               



children's coverage was consistent with Rule 90.3(d)(1)(B) and its commentary and not  

                                                                                                                                                                               

an abuse of discretion.21  

                          



                            As  to  Dunn's  contention  that  the  superior  court  was  punishing  him  

                                                                                                                                                                            



financially  through  this  pro  rata  allocation  of  the  health  insurance  cost  among  the  

                                                                                                                                                                               



dependents, he provides no support for that contention beyond his bare assertion, and we  

                                                                                                                                                                                



perceive  nothing  to  suggest  that  the  court's  application  of  Rule   90.3(d)(1)(C)   was  

                                                                                                                                  



punitive .   



              20            It is unclear who typed that information.                                             Dunn suggests that it was typed                         



by Jones.   



              21            See Rusenstrom v. Rusenstrom, 981 P.2d 558, 562-63 (Alaska 1999).  

                                                                                                                                                                               



                                                                                       -13-                                                                                7416
  


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

          D.        We Decline To Consider Dunn's Other Arguments.  

                                                                                   



                    Dunn  makes  several  other  arguments  that  the  superior  court  erred  in  

                                                                                                                             



denying his motion to modify child support.  Dunn argues that pay stub #1343, with a  

                                                                                               



one-week gross pay of $588.50, that the superior court used for its calculations, is "the  

                                                                                                                           



highest valued check" of the four he submitted to the court. He argues the superior court  

                                                                                                                          



erroneously "added another month's income on to the total annual income" that had been  

                                                                                                                          



calculated by Jones when it calculated his gross annual income as $30,600. Dunn argues  

                                                                                                                        



that the superior court erred in determining that averaging pay stubs #1343 and #1350  

                                                                                               



(with $588.50 and $638.00 in gross pay, respectively) results in a higher gross income  

                                                                                                                      



than relying on the $588.50 pay stub alone.  And he argues the superior court did not  

                                                                                                                            



look at his income calculations.  Because we conclude that the superior court abused its  

                                                                                                                              



discretion by declining to modify child support without first calculating an updated  

                                                                                                                     



monthly support amount, we decline to address these additional arguments.  

                                                                                                                  



V.        CONCLUSION  



                    We REVERSE the superior court's decision that Dunn was not entitled to  

                                                                                                                              



a child support modification and REMAND for the court to recalculate his monthly child  

                                                                                                                          



support obligation.  We REVERSE the court's order that Dunn is obligated as a matter  

                                                                                                                        



of law to pay half the children's health insurance costs and REMAND for the court to  

                                                                                                           



determine whether there is good cause to vary his obligation to pay half of his children's  

                                                                                                                  



health insurance premiums.  We AFFIRM the superior court's decisions on the other  

                                                                                                                         



points Dunn raises on appeal which we have addressed.  

                                                                    



                                                             -14-                                                        7416
  

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