Melissa S. Rathbun, Plaintiff and Appellee
Samuel R. Rathbun, Defendant and Appellant and State of North Dakota, Real Party in Interest
from the District Court of Williams County, Northwest
Judicial District, the Honorable Joshua B. Rustad, Judge.
J. Corcoran, for plaintiff and appellee; submitted on brief.
Theresa L. Kellington, for defendant and appellant.
1] Samuel Rathbun appeals a district court order modifying
his child and spousal support obligations. Samuel argues the
district court erred by not modifying his child support. The
district court's order and judgment is reversed and this
case is remanded with instructions that it calculate child
support consistent with the child support guidelines and this
2] Samuel and Melissa Rathbun have two minor children from
their marriage. The parties divorced in 2014. The divorce
judgment ordered Samuel Rathbun to pay $3, 543 per month in
child support based on his annual net income of $151, 952.
The judgment further ordered Samuel Rathbun to pay
rehabilitative spousal support payments to Melissa Rathbun in
the amount of $3, 500 per month for 60 months and then $2,
500 per month for 24 months.
3] At the time of the judgment Samuel Rathbun was employed in
the oil field as a consultant with gross annual earnings of
approximately $250, 000. In August 2015 Samuel Rathbun lost
his job due to the downturn in the oil business. Samuel
Rathbun tried without success to obtain new employment.
Because he lost his job and was unable to find employment, he
filed a motion to amend the judgment to reduce his child
support obligation and eliminate his spousal support
4] After a hearing, the district court entered an order
suspending his spousal support obligation for 12 months but
ordered his child support obligation to remain in full force
and effect at $3, 543 per month. Samuel Rathbun appeals.
5] Samuel Rathbun argues the district court erred by not
reducing his child support obligation. This Court's
review of child support calculations is well established:
"Child support determinations involve questions of law
which are subject to the de novo standard of review, findings
of fact which are subject to the clearly erroneous standard
of review, and may, in some limited areas, be matters of
discretion subject to the abuse of discretion standard of
review. A court errs as a matter of law if it does not comply
with the requirements of the child support guidelines. As a
matter of law, the district court must clearly set forth how
it arrived at the amount of income and level of
Bye v. Robinette, 2015 ND 276, ¶ 4, 871 N.W.2d
432 (quoting Krueger v. Krueger, 2011 ND 134, ¶
19, 800 N.W.2d 296).
6] The district court found Samuel Rathbun was unemployed and
made the following findings and conclusions regarding