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State v. Andres

Supreme Court of North Dakota

May 26, 2016

State of North Dakota, Plaintiff and Appellee
v.
Kenneth A. Andres, Defendant and Appellee and Shannon L. Strating, Plaintiff and Appellant

Page 465

          Appeal from the District Court of Morton County, South Central Judicial District, the Honorable Bruce B. Haskell, Judge.

         Steven G. Podoll, Child Support, Bismarck N.D., for plaintiff and appellee.

         Kristin A. Redmann, Bismarck N.D., for plaintiff and appellant.

         Rodney E. Pagel, Bismarck N.D., for defendant and appellee.

         Daniel J. Crothers, Lisa Fair McEvers. Carol Ronning Kapsner. Dale V. Sandstrom. Gerald W. VandeWalle, C.J.

          OPINION

Page 466

         Daniel J. Crothers, Justice.

          [¶1] The State of North Dakota and Shannon Strating appeal from a district court order granting Strating and Ken Andres equal residential responsibility of Strating and Andres' child. Strating argues the district court erred in its analysis of the best interest factors and in its parenting plan and by issuing a written order inconsistent with its oral order. The State and Strating argue the district court failed to comply with child support guidelines. We reverse and remand with instructions for the district court to add the missing statutorily mandated child support calculations and parenting plan provisions. We affirm the remainder of the judgment.

         I

          [¶2] Strating and Andres are the non-marital parents of one child. Strating applied for child support and the North Dakota Child Support Enforcement Unit commenced a paternity action against Andres. An interim order gave Strating primary residential responsibility and gave Andres parenting time once per week and every other weekend and imposed a child support obligation on Andres. At the conclusion of trial the district court judge suggested Strating would receive primary residential responsibility and asked Strating and Andres to develop a parenting plan. Strating and Andres were unable to agree on a parenting plan. The district court entered Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and an Order for Judgment granting equal residential responsibility. No child support was ordered. Strating moved the district court to amend its Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Order for Judgment. The district court denied

Page 467

her motion and the State and Strating appeal.

         II

          [¶3] Strating argues the district court erred in granting her and Andres equal residential responsibility because its findings of fact on the best interest factors were clearly erroneous.

" The district court's award of primary residential responsibility is a finding of fact, which will not be reversed on appeal unless it is clearly erroneous. A finding of fact is clearly erroneous if there is no evidence to support it, if it is induced by an erroneous view of the law, or if we are convinced, on the basis of the entire record, that a mistake has been made."

Law v. Whittet, 2014 ND 69, ¶ 8, 844 N.W.2d 885 (internal citations omitted).

          [¶4] The district court is required to consider the best interests and welfare of children in determining the rights and responsibilities of the parents. N.D.C.C. § 14-09-06.2. In deciding the children's best interests the " court must consider all [relevant] factors specified in N.D.C.C. § 14-09-06.2(1)." Schmidt v. Schmidt, 2003 ND 55, ¶ 6, 660 N.W.2d 196. Section 14-09-06.2(1), N.D.D.C., outlines the following factors for assessing the child's best interests and welfare:

" a. The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parents and child and the ability of each parent to provide the child with nurture, love, affection, and guidance.
" b. The ability of each parent to assure that the child receives adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and a safe environment.
" c. The child's developmental needs and the ability of each parent to meet those needs, both in the present ...

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