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State v. Rogelio L.

Supreme Court of Nebraska

March 16, 2018

STATE OF NEBRASKA ON BEHALF OF THE STATE OF INDIANA AND FERNANDO L., A MINOR CHILD. APPELLEE,
v.
ROGELIO L., APPELLANT.

          1. Modification of Decree: Child Support: Appeal and Error. Modification of child support payments is entrusted to the trial court's discretion, and although, on appeal, the issue is reviewed de novo on the record, the decision of the trial court will be affirmed absent an abuse of discretion.

         2. Judges: Words and Phrases. A judicial abuse of discretion exists when reasons or rulings of a trial judge are clearly untenable, unfairly depriving a litigant of a substantial right and denying just results in matters submitted for disposition.

         3. Child Support: Rules of the Supreme Court: Appeal and Error. Interpretation of the Nebraska Child Support Guidelines presents a question of law. An appellate court resolves questions of law independently of the lower court's conclusion.

         4. Child Support: Rules of the Supreme Court. In calculating a parent's child support obligation, the Nebraska Child Support Guidelines permit a court to deduct a parent's obligation to support subsequent children from his or her monthly income in some circumstances.

         5. __: __ . The Nebraska Supreme Court interprets the expression "subsequent children" in Neb. Ct. R. § 4-220 to mean children born after an existing support order.

         6. Modification of Decree: Child Support: Proof. A party seeking to modify a child support order must show a material change in circumstances which (1) occurred subsequent to the entry of the original decree or previous modification and (2) was not contemplated when the decree was entered.

         7. Child Support: Rules of the Supreme Court: Taxes. In calculating a parent's monthly net income for child support purposes, Neb. Ct. R. [299 Neb. 330] § 4-205(A) (rev. 2016) allows a deduction for taxes, as established by standard deductions applicable to the number of exemptions provided by law.

         8. Appeal and Error. An appellate court is not obligated to engage in an analysis which is not needed to adjudicate the controversy before it.

         Appeal from the District Court for Adams County: Terri S. Harder, Judge. Affirmed in part, and in part reversed and remanded with directions.

          Jamie L. Arango, of Arango Law, L.L.C., for appellant.

          Douglas J. Peterson, Attorney General, and James D. Smith for appellee.

          Heavican, C.J., Miller-Lerman, Cassel, Stacy, and Funke, JJ.

          Miller-Lerman, J.

         INTRODUCTION

         Rogelio L. appeals the order of the district court for Adams County that dismissed his March 2, 2016, complaint for a downward modification of his child support obligation to his son, Fernando L., originally ordered at $388 per month on August 18, 2010. The district court concluded that Rogelio had not shown a material change in circumstances warranting a reduction in his monthly child support obligation to Fernando. No tax returns or financial documents were in evidence; Rogelio testified about his income and admitted that he did not pay taxes. The district court determined that Rogelio should not receive any deduction from his total monthly income for taxes. The district court also found that Rogelio's three "after-born" children could not be used to lower his child support obligation to Fernando. Rogelio appeals. We find no error in the district court's determination regarding taxes and affirm this ruling. However, because we conclude that the district court based its child support calculation on an incorrect understanding of the birth order of Rogelio's children relative to Fernando and the 2010 child [299 Neb. 331] support order, we reverse this aspect of the order and remand the cause with directions.

         BACKGROUND

         2010 Order In 2010, the State brought an action against Rogelio pursuant to the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act to establish Rogelio's paternity of and child support obligation to his son Fernando, who was born in June 2004 and lived with his mother in Indiana. In an order filed August 18, 2010, the district court for Adams County found that Rogelio was Fernando's father and ordered him to pay child support of $388 per month. The district court based its calculation on Rogelio's net monthly income of $1, 291.31, which took into account his regular support of two other children. While the original support order did not include the names or ages of these other children, it is apparent ...


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