Articles Posted in North Dakota Supreme Court

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Sarah Tarver appealed a district court judgment dividing her and Daniel Tarver’s marital estate and establishing spousal and child support. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court erred in its determination of spousal support. Therefore, the Court reversed and remanded on the issue of spousal support. View "Tarver v. Tarver" on Justia Law

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Matthew Lindseth appealed an amended judgment ordering him to pay Alaina Minyard $1,216 per month in child support. The North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed, concluding the district court did not err in determining Lindseth’s income for child support purposes. View "Minyard v. Lindseth" on Justia Law

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Adam Lizakowski appealed a district court judgment and post-judgment orders awarding Tonia Lizakowski marital property, primary residential responsibility of the parties’ minor children, and attorney’s fees. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the court erroneously excluded property from the marital estate. The Court affirmed in all other respects, and remanded this case for further proceedings. View "Lizakowski v. Lizakowski" on Justia Law

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W.C. appealed a district court order denying his petition to adjudicate paternity and seeking a determination of residential responsibility, decision making responsibility, parenting time, and child support. W.C. alleges he was the father of a child born to J.H. In November 2013. W.C. and J.H. began a romantic relationship in late 2012 while J.H was married to T.H. The couple divorced in June 2013. Because J.H. gave birth to the child within 300 days of the divorce, T.H. was the presumed father under North Dakota law. The child’s birth certificate did not list a father. In 2018, after the statute of limitations for challenging a presumed father expired, W.C. commenced an action to adjudicate paternity of the child, seeking a determination of residential responsibility, decision making responsibility, parenting time, and child support. The district court scheduled an evidentiary hearing. Before the hearing, J.H. filed a motion to quash discovery, arguing W.C.’s requests for financial and medical records were not relevant, onerous, grossly invasive, and even if provided could not establish facts to support the relief sought in the petition. The district court granted the motion to quash discovery, finding medical and financial records were not relevant. The court thereafter held a hearing on the paternity claim, hearing testimony from W.C., J.H., and T.H. Based on testimony and interrogatory answers from T.H. the district court found W.C. failed to disprove the parent-child relationship. The district court also found W.C. failed to establish T.H. and J.H. did not cohabitate nor engage in a sexual relationship during the probable time of conception. The district court denied W.C.’s petition. W.C. argued on appeal of the district court order that the court abused its discretion in granting a motion quashing discovery. Finding no error, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed. View "W.C. v. J.H., et al." on Justia Law

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Kimberlee Erickson, formerly known as Markegard, appealed and Brian Willoughby cross-appealed an order and amended judgment terminating Willoughby’s spousal support obligation. Erickson argued the district court erred in terminating her spousal support, and Willoughby argued the court erred by failing to make its order terminating support retroactive to the date of the service of his motion. Finding no reversible error, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed. View "Markegard v. Willoughby" on Justia Law

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Rebecca Benjamin appealed a district court’s judgment awarding primary residential responsibility of the minor child P.J.K. to James Klundt and changing the child’s last name to Klundt. The North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the judgment as to primary residential responsibility and reversed the court’s judgment regarding its sua sponte change of the minor child’s last name. View "Klundt v. Benjamin" on Justia Law

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Steve Wolt appealed a judgment setting his monthly child support obligation at $923, and an order denying his motion for sanctions against the State and its attorney for allegedly frivolous legal positions posited during the child support proceedings. After review, the North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court correctly interpreted the Child Support Guidelines in calculating Wolt’s child support obligation and, accordingly, affirmed the judgment and the order. View "Wolt v. Wolt, et al." on Justia Law

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Bruce Wayne Lee appealed a final judgment and decree of divorce from his marriage to Kimberly Lee. On appeal, Bruce argued the district court erred in its valuation of marital assets and the allocation of the marital estate. He also contended he was prejudiced by the district court’s six-month delay in issuing a final judgment. Finding no abuse of discretion or other reversible error, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed. View "Lee v. Lee" on Justia Law

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Stacy Tschider appealed and Melanie Tschider, also known as Su Lin Tschider, cross-appealed a judgment that granted joint parenting responsibility of their minor child and awarded child support, distributed the parties’ property and debts, and awarded spousal support to Melanie. Shortly before their marriage, both parties signed a prenuptial agreement in December 2002. The parties began dating in 1995 and began living together in 1996. At the time of their marriage, Melanie had a net worth of less than $50,000 and annual income of $55,548. Stacy had a net worth of $1,783,500 and an annual income of about $245,000. He had ownership interests in six businesses with a book value of about $2.9 million and five parcels of investment real estate, resulting in substantial annual income. In August 2015, Melanie filed for divorce. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court erred in holding a provision of the parties’ prenuptial agreement was unconscionable and unenforceable and erred in awarding spousal support. However, the Court concluded the court’s property distribution was not clearly erroneous and the court did not abuse its discretion in denying Melanie's request for attorney fees. The matter was remanded for further proceedings. View "Tschider v. Tschider, et al." on Justia Law

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Heather Thompson appeals from a district court judgment modifying Christopher Johnson’s child support obligation and ordering her to repay overpayments of child support. In November 2015, Thompson was awarded primary residential responsibility of the minor child and Johnson was ordered to pay $314 a month in child support. Thompson successfully moved the district court to vacate the judgment, and a new trial was held in May 2017. Following the new trial, the court noted that “Johnson had $4,003,495 in assets, overall equity of $1,224,533, and crops in storage of $691,895.” Because Johnson’s significant assets were not consistent with the average losses reflected in his tax returns, the court determined Johnson’s tax returns did not accurately reflect his income for child support purposes. Using Johnson’s personal expenses and monthly budget to determine Johnson’s in-kind income, the court found Johnson had a gross annual income of $171,560.66 and a net annual income of $113,916. In September 2017, the court entered an amended judgment requiring Johnson to pay child support in the amount of $1,280 per month and $38,989 in back child support. Johnson appealed. On appeal, the North Dakota Supreme Court found the district court “failed to impute Johnson’s income or adequately explain how using his personal expenses and monthly budget satisfied the child support guidelines . . . [and] erred as a matter of law by failing to calculate Johnson’s child support obligation according to the child support guidelines.” The matter was then remanded for a recalculation of child support. Based upon its determination that Johnson was underemployed, the court imputed Johnson’s income pursuant to N.D. Admin. Code 75-02-04.1-07. The district court denied Thompson’s motion to vacate the judgment and declined to reconsider its decision. Thompson filed an appeal before the court ruled on the potential overpayment of child support. Rather than explain its findings on remand, the Supreme Court found the district court jumped directly to the conclusion Johnson was underemployed. The district court's judgment was again reversed and the matter remanded for recalculation of the child support obligation. View "Thompson, et al. v. Johnson" on Justia Law