Jason L. Armknecht, appellant,
Alita M. Armknecht, now known as Alita M. Reynolds, appellee.
Modification of Decree: Child Support: Appeal and
Error. Modification of a dissolution decree is a
matter entrusted to the discretion of the trial court, whose
order is reviewed de novo on the record, and which will be
affirmed absent an abuse of discretion by the trial court.
The same standard applies to the modification of child
Evidence: Appeal and Error. In a review de
novo on the record, an appellate court is required to make
independent factual determinations based upon the record, and
the court reaches its own independent conclusions with
respect to the matters at issue.
___. When evidence is in conflict, the appellate court
considers and may give weight to the fact that the trial
court heard and observed the witnesses and accepted one
version of the facts rather than another.
Judges: Words and Phrases. A judicial abuse
of discretion exists if the 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.
Child Support. As a general matter, the
parties' current earnings are to be used in calculating
Rules of the Supreme Court: Child Support.
In general, child support payments should be set according to
the Nebraska Child Support Guidelines.
Child Support. Use of earning capacity to
calculate child support is useful when it appears that the
parent is capable of earning more income than is presently
The court may add "in-kind" benefits derived from
an employer or other third party to a party's income for
purposes of calculating child support.
Neb. 871] 9. ___. In determining child support, a court's
findings regarding an individual's level of income should
not be based on the inclusion of income that is entirely
speculative in nature.
Courts: Child Support. The trial court has
discretion to choose whether and how to calculate a deduction
for subsequent children.
Child Support. No precise mathematical
formula exists for calculating child support when subsequent
children are involved, but the court must perform the
calculation in a manner that does not benefit one family at
the expense of the other.
Modification of Decree: Child Support:
Proof. The party requesting a deduction for his or
her obligation to support subsequent children bears the
burden of providing evidence of the obligation, including the
income of the other parent of the child.
from the District Court for Gage County: Daniel E. Bryan,
Jr., Judge, Retired. Affirmed.
M. Ligouri, of Ligouri Law Office, for appellant.
J. Krieger and Terri M. Weeks, of Bowman & Krieger, for
Heavican, C.J., Miller-Lerman, Cassel, Stacy, and Funke, JJ.,
and Derr and Urbom, District Judges.
L. Armknecht appeals the modification order entered by the
district court for Gage County, which modified his child
support obligation to his former wife, Alita M. Armknecht,
now known as Alita M. Reynolds. Jason argues the district
court erred in the calculation of child support. For the
reasons set forth below, we affirm the order of the district
and Alita married in September 1997 and divorced in November
2007. They have three children: Logan Armknecht, born in
1998; Rees Armknecht, born in 1999; and Alexia Armknecht,
born in 2004. In the decree, Alita was granted physical
custody of all three children, subject to Jason's [300
Neb. 872] parenting time, and Jason was ordered to pay child
support in the amount of $950 per month. The decree ordered
that such child support would be reduced to $700 for two
children and $475 for one child.
April 2016, Jason filed a complaint for modification of the
decree on the basis that the parties' middle child, Rees,
had "expressed a strong and consistent desire" to
live with Jason and had been staying with him since January
1, 2016. Jason sought modification of custody with respect to
Rees and a reduction in his child support obligation due to
such change in custody. Alita counterclaimed for modification
of child support, alleging there had been a material change
in circumstances that would result in an increase in
Jason's support obligation of more than 10 percent.
time of trial, Logan had reached the age of majority, Rees
was living with Jason, and Alexia remained living with Alita.
The parties stipulated that the split custody computation for
child support would be retroactive to May 1, 2016, which was
the first month following the filing of the complaint for
modification. The evidence also showed that Jason had two
subsequent children at the time of trial: a child born in
February 2015, and a child born in October 2016.
incomes of Jason and Alita were highly disputed at trial.
Both parties remarried, and both were currently employed by
their respective spouses. The evidence showed that in 2015,
Jason began working as a full-time sales associate for an
insurance agency owned by his wife, Tasa Paul (Tasa). At the
time of trial in February 2017, Jason's two most recent
pay stubs showed that he was earning $1, 650 per month,
although he earned significantly more the previous year.
Jason's 2016 pay stubs showed that he earned $3, 750 per
month from January through May and $2, 100 per month from
June through December. Tasa testified that his salary was
reduced in June 2016 because she eliminated the marketing and
overhead allowances that he had been given for the first part
of that [300 Neb. 873] year. She explained that the agency
had qualified for extra marketing dollars from the company at
the end of 2015, so she decided to give Jason some extra
marketing money to see if he could bring in more business.
Starting in June, ...