Kestner v. Clark
Alaska Supreme Court
182 P.3d 1117 (2008)
In 1990, Diane Kestner (plaintiff) and Christopher Clark (defendant) had a son, Nathan. Diane and Christopher later divorced. In 2001, Diane had been making $21,000 per year when she stopped working due to having her first child with her second spouse. Diane then had a second child with her husband and cared for all three children, including Nathan, for three years until Christopher was awarded primary custody of Nathan when he turned 14. Diane stayed at home, because childcare expenses of $9,000-$10,000 per year made it uneconomical for her to work. After Christopher was awarded custody of Nathan, Diane filed for modification of child support, seeking a downward deviation from the guideline amount to $50 per month, alleging lack of income and that it was reasonable for her to stay home to care for the children. Through discovery, evidence was revealed and later presented at trial to show that Diane’s spouse made $64,000 per year, and the family had a net worth of more than $450,000. The trial court refused discovery of Christopher’s fiancée’s income, but Diane testified that Christopher and his fiancée had a combined household income of $90,000-$100,000. Christopher acknowledged that he did not need child support from Diane, but argued that income should be imputed to Diane as a matter of law because she had a legal obligation to support her son. The trial court found that Diane was voluntarily and unreasonably unemployed, imputed $25,000 in annual income to her, and ordered her to pay child support of $299 per month. Diane appealed the award and the discovery order.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Fabe, C.J.)
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