MICHELLE R. DRABBELS, APPELLEE AND CROSS-APPELLANT,
DARREN W. DRABBELS. APPELLANT AND CROSS-APPELLEE.
Divorce: Child Support: Appeal and Error. An
appellate court's review in an action for dissolution of
marriage is de novo on the record to determine whether there
has been an abuse of discretion by the trial judge. This
standard of review applies to the trial court's
determinations regarding child support.
Judges: Words and Phrases. A judicial abuse
of discretion requires that the reasons or rulings of a trial
judge be clearly untenable, unfairly depriving a litigant of
a substantial right and a just result.
Evidence: Appeal and Error. When evidence is
in conflict, an appellate court considers, and may give
weight to, the fact that the trial judge heard and observed
the witnesses and accepted one version of the facts rather
Child Support: Insurance: Proof. In
calculating a party's child support obligation, a
deduction shall be allowed for the monthly out-of-pocket cost
to the parent for that particular parent's health
insurance so long as the parent requesting the deduction
submits proof of the actual cost incurred for health
___: ___. In calculating a party's child support
obligation, the increased cost to a parent for health
insurance for the child shall be prorated between the
parents; the parent paying the premium receives a credit
against his or her share of the monthly support, provided
that the parent requesting the credit submits proof of the
cost of health insurance coverage for the child.
Child Support. In calculating child support,
the total monthly income of a parent should include earnings
derived from all sources.
While a court is allowed to add in-kind benefits, derived
from an employer or other third party, to a party's
income, a court's findings [25 Neb.App. 103] regarding an
individual's level of income should not be based on the
inclusion of income that is entirely speculative.
Child Support: Pensions. In calculating
child support, a parent may receive a deduction for
contributions to a retirement plan.
from the District Court for Sheridan County: Travis P.
P. Jaeger, of Jaeger Law Office, PC, L.L.O., for appellant.
W. Snyder, of Chaloupka, Holyoke, Snyder, Chaloupka &
Longoria, PC, L.L.O., for appellee.
Chief Judge, and Bishop and Arterburn, Judges.
W. Drabbels appeals, and Michelle R. Drabbels cross-appeals,
from the decree of dissolution entered by the district court
for Sheridan County, which decree dissolved their marriage,
awarded them joint legal custody of their daughter, awarded
Michelle physical custody of their daughter, and ordered
Darren to pay child support. At issue in this appeal is the
district court's calculation of Darren's child
support obligation. Upon our review, we conclude that the
district court erred in calculating Darren's monthly
income and in failing to allocate childcare expenses between
the parties. As a result, we must modify that portion of the
decree which concerns child support. In addition, we must
remand the cause to the district court to enter an order
allocating childcare expenses between the parties.
and Michelle were married on September 26, 2009. There was
one child born during the marriage; a daughter, born in
January 2013. The parties separated in October 2014. [25
Neb.App. 104] Michelle filed a complaint for dissolution of
the marriage on April 27, 2015. In the complaint, she
specifically asked that the parties' marriage be
dissolved, that their marital assets and debts be equitably
divided, and that she be awarded custody of their daughter
and child support.
December 28, 2015, the district court entered a temporary
order which awarded Michelle physical and legal custody of
the parties' daughter pending the dissolution trial. The
temporary order also awarded Michelle $500 per month in child
was held on June 28 and August 17, 2016. During the trial,
the evidence presented by both parties focused primarily on
custody of the parties' daughter, the division of marital
property, and the proper amount of child support to be paid
by Darren. In this appeal, neither party challenges the
district court's decisions concerning custody or the
division of property. As such, our recitation of the evidence
presented at the trial focuses on only that evidence relating
to child support and childcare expenses.
testified that she is currently employed as a dental office
manager. She has been employed there since 2011 and earns $20
per hour. Michelle testified that she receives certain
benefits as a result of her employment, including free dental
care, the option to obtain health insurance, and a "40
IK where [the company] matches 3 percent of what I put in
there." Michelle indicated that Darren currently
provides their daughter with health insurance through his
employer. Michelle testified that while she could provide
health insurance for their daughter, she believes that it
would be best for their daughter to remain on Darren's
insurance plan. Michelle also indicated that their daughter
attends daycare and that she and Darren have been splitting
the cost of this daycare since at least January 2016.
Michelle testified that she wanted this arrangement to
testified that he is currently employed by a public power
district as a journeyman lineman. As a part of [25 Neb.App.
105] his employment, he is a member of a union. In 2016, he
earned $33.35 per hour. In addition to his hourly wages, he
receives certain "fringe benefits" as a result of
his employment. These benefits include health insurance and
retirement benefits. Darren offered evidence which showed
that in 2016, his employer paid $1, 935.52 per month for
Darren's and his daughter's health insurance. Darren
testified that this insurance was paid for entirely by his
employer. He does not pay anything toward the insurance plan,
and nothing is deducted from his paycheck to pay for this
benefit. However, Darren also testified that if the cost of
his insurance increases, his hourly rate of pay may be
affected. Similarly, Darren offered evidence which showed
that in 2016, his employer paid $12, 555.61 in retirement
benefits for him. Darren testified that these retirement
benefits were paid for entirely by his employer and that
nothing is deducted from his paycheck to pay for this
benefit. Other "fringe benefits" received by Darren
in 2016 include the opportunity to earn overtime, a
"Safety Award" of $107.63, and paid holiday,
vacation, and sick leave. However, Darren testified that the
overtime and the safety award are not "guaranteed."
testified that his monthly income should be calculated by
using his hourly wage of $33.35 and adding in the amount that
his employer pays for health insurance. He also indicated
that when the court calculates his child support obligation,
he should receive a deduction for his health ...