Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Schweitzer v. Mattingley

Supreme Court of North Dakota

December 5, 2016

Rebecca Marie Schweitzer, Plaintiff and Appellee
v.
Ethan Robert Mattingley, Defendant and Appellant

         Appeal from the District Court of Ward County, North Central Judicial District, the Honorable Gary H. Lee, Judge.

         AFFIRMED IN PART AND REVERSED IN PART.

          Michael S. McIntee, for plaintiff and appellee.

          Robert S. Rau, for defendant and appellant.

          OPINION

          KAPSNER, JUSTICE.

         [¶ 1] Ethan Mattingley appeals a district court judgment awarding Rebecca Schweitzer primary residential responsibility of their minor child and ordering Mattingley to pay child support. We affirm in part and reverse in part.

         I

         [¶ 2] Mattingley and Schweitzer have one minor child, born in 2012. Schweitzer lives in Minot and Mattingley lives in Velva, approximately 22 miles southeast of Minot. Mattingley works in Minot and drives round trip from Velva to Minot every day. After the child's birth he lived primarily with Schweitzer, and Mattingley paid child support under an earlier district court judgment.

         [¶ 3] In 2014 both parties sought primary residential responsibility of the child. The district court, through Judge Hagar, entered an interim order in February 2015 establishing parenting time and requiring Mattingley to pay $970 per month in child support. Approximately one month after entry of the interim order, Mattingley moved to modify child support, alleging his work hours decreased and overtime was not guaranteed. While the motion was pending, Mattingley moved to recuse Judge Hagar, alleging Judge Hagar was biased or prejudiced against Mattingley or his attorney. In June 2015, Judge Hagar entered an order decreasing Mattingley's child support obligation from $970 to $891 per month effective March 1, 2015. In July 2015, Judge Hagar denied Mattingley's motion to recuse, but subsequently disqualified himself from the case on the same day.

         [¶ 4] Judge Louser was assigned to the case and presided over a September 2015 trial. Before trial, Judge Louser informed the parties she intended to "proceed anew on all issues raised in the initial pleadings" including primary residential responsibility and child support. After trial, Judge Louser informed the parties of a personal conflict and requested the case be assigned to another judge.

         [¶ 5] Presiding Judge Lee assigned himself to the case and after familiarizing himself with the record and evidence submitted at trial, awarded primary residential responsibility of the child to Schweitzer and established parenting time for Mattingley. The court found it was in the child's best interests to live with Schweitzer in Minot where the child will be attending school.

         [¶ 6] Judge Lee also addressed Mattingley's motion to recuse and concluded it divested Judge Hagar of authority to proceed in the case. The court vacated Judge Hagar's order modifying child support and reinstated the $970 per month of child support under the February 2015 interim order. Using the evidence from trial, the court found Mattingley's yearly income was $78, 600 and ordered him to pay $891 per month in child support effective September 1, 2015, and $836 per month effective November 1, 2015.

         [¶ 7] After filing his notice of appeal, Mattingley moved to modify child support because he lost his job in March 2016. After a hearing the district court reduced Mattingley's child support obligation to $440 per month effective April 1, 2016.

         II

         [¶ 8] Mattingley argues the district court erroneously calculated child support. He also argues the court erred in vacating the June 2015 order modifying child support.

         [¶ 9] Child support decisions involve questions of law subject to a de novo standard of review, findings of fact subject to a clearly erroneous standard of review, and in some limited areas may be matters of discretion subject to an abuse-of-discretion standard of review. Berge v. Berge, 2006 ND 46, ¶ 7, 710 N.W.2d 417.

         A

         [¶ 10] Mattingley argues Judge Lee erred in vacating Judge Hagar's June 2015 order modifying his child support obligation from $970 to $891 per month.

         [¶ 11] Mattingley filed a motion to recuse Judge Hagar before entry of the June 2015 order modifying child support. Mattingley alleged that on the basis of the rulings in the case, Judge Hagar exhibited bias or prejudice against Mattingley or his attorney. Mattingley also alleged Judge Hagar may be biased against his attorney on the basis of his attorney's earlier cases with Judge Hagar. Judge Hagar denied Mattingley's motion to recuse, concluding his allegations of bias ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.