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Czapla v. Dennis

Court of Appeals of Nebraska

May 21, 2013

Brent J.T. Czapla, appellee,
v.
Erika M. Dennis, now known as Erika M. Robinson, appellant.

NOT DESIGNATED FOR PERMANENT PUBLICATION

Appeal from the District Court for Douglas County: Peter C. Bataillon, Judge.

Jeff T. Courtney, P.C., L.L.O., for appellant.

James M. Buchanan, P.C., L.L.O., for appellee.

Inbody, Chief Judge, and Irwin and Moore, Judges.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND JUDGMENT ON APPEAL

Moore, Judge.

INTRODUCTION

Erika M. Dennis, now known as Erika M. Robinson (Erika), appeals from the paternity decree entered by the district court for Douglas County, which determined that Brent J.T. Czapla (Brent) was the father of the parties' minor child, awarded sole legal custody to Brent and joint physical custody to the parties, and calculated child support. Erika challenges the custody award and the court's determination of Brent's income for child support purposes. Because we find no abuse of discretion, we affirm.

BACKGROUND

Erika and Brent are the biological parents of Aiden Czapla, who was born in June 2010. Prior to Aiden's birth, the parties had a relationship while both were living in Omaha, Nebraska. Aiden was born in South Dakota where Erika lived at the time, although she has since moved back to Omaha. Erika was 22 years old at the time of Aiden's birth, and Brent was 23. After Aiden's birth, the parties verbally agreed and attempted to follow a "week-on and week-off" parenting time arrangement. On July 30, the parties signed a parenting plan that included a joint custody arrangement. The events surrounding the signing of that plan and its details are discussed more thoroughly below.

Brent filed a complaint for determination of paternity in the district court on July 27, 2010. Brent alleged that he had voluntarily submitted to genetic testing proving him to be Aiden's father, with the results expected on July 28. Brent attached his voluntary acknowledgment of paternity. Brent alleged that Erika had wrongfully attempted to "procure the child from [him] in an effort to remove the child from the State of Nebraska" and asked the court for an order granting him temporary possession of Aiden to keep him in Nebraska during the pendency of the paternity action. Brent sought sole custody of Aiden, subject to Erika's visitation rights, and a determination of child support.

On July 30, 2010, both parties filed affidavits with the court, stating, among other things, that they had "discussed [Aiden] and agree[d] that [they] should both take a cooperative and active role in raising [him]." The parties informed the court that they had discussed Aiden's best interests; organized their discussion into a parenting plan, which they had signed; and asked the court to approve the terms of the parenting plan.

The district court entered a temporary order on August 2, 2010. The court found that based on the genetic testing performed, Brent was Aiden's father. The court also found that the July 30 parenting plan submitted by the parties was in Aiden's best interests. The court awarded the parties temporary joint legal and physical custody of Aiden. A child support calculation was completed, but the parties agreed that no child support would be owed by either party since they were equally contributing to Aiden's care. The court found that this deviation from the child support guidelines was fair, equitable, and in Aiden's best interests. The parenting plan was attached to the order and provided for parenting time on a 2-week rotating basis, subject to holiday and special visitation provisions, which were also set forth in the plan. The plan provided that during the first week, Brent would have Aiden from 9 a.m. Monday until 9 a.m. Wednesday, Erika would have Aiden from 9 a.m. Wednesday until 9 a.m. Saturday, and Brent would have Aiden from 9 a.m. Saturday until 9 a.m. Monday. During the second week of the schedule, Erika would have Aiden from 9 a.m. Monday until 9 a.m. Tuesday, Brent would have Aiden from 9 a.m. Tuesday until 9 a.m. Saturday, and Erika would have Aiden from 9 a.m. Saturday until 9 a.m. Monday. The plan also provided each party with the right of first refusal any time in which daycare or a babysitter was needed for a period of 3 hours or more.

Erika filed an answer and countercomplaint on January 6, 2011. In her countercomplaint, Erika sought, among other things, an award of sole temporary and permanent custody, and a determination of child support.

On February 8, 2011, Erika filed a motion to strike the previously filed parenting plan and replace it with a temporary order. She also filed a motion for a temporary order, in which she requested temporary custody and child support. The outcome of these temporary motions is not apparent from the record on appeal.

Trial was held before the district court on March 15, 2012. Erika and Brent both testified, as did Erika's husband, Jesse Robinson (Jesse). Additionally, Dr. Theodore DeLaet, a psychologist, ...


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