Heather L. Thompson, Plaintiff, Appellee, and Cross-Appellant
Christopher K. Johnson, Defendant, Appellant, and Cross-Appellee and State of North Dakota, Plaintiff and Appellee
from the District Court of Traill County, East Central
Judicial District, the Honorable Susan J. Solheim, Judicial
F. Coleman, Grand Forks, ND, for plaintiff, appellee, and
K. Naumann, Fargo, ND, for plaintiff and appellee; submitted
Jessica D. Jensen (argued) and Patti J. Jensen (on brief),
East Grand Forks, MN, for defendant, appellant, and
1] Christopher Johnson appeals an amended judgment ordering
him to pay $1, 280 per month in child support. Heather
Thompson cross-appeals from the judgment denying her request
for attorney's fees. We affirm in part, reverse in part,
and remand, concluding the district court failed to calculate
Johnson's income in accordance with the child support
2] Johnson and Thompson have one child together born in 2013.
The State provided Medicaid to the child before Johnson was
adjudged the child's father. In May 2015, the district
court awarded primary residential responsibility of the child
to Thompson. Johnson, a self-employed farmer, was ordered to
pay $314 per month in child support. In March 2016, Thompson
moved for relief from the judgment relating to child support,
arguing Johnson's previously reported income was not
3] Before the hearing on Thompson's motion for relief, a
discovery dispute arose between the parties. After Thompson
requested Johnson's tax and banking records, Johnson
moved for a protective order, requesting that Thompson be
prohibited from serving him with further discovery requests.
Thompson responded with a motion to compel Johnson to provide
the requested information.
4] At a March 2017 hearing on the parties' discovery
motions, the district court granted Thompson's motion to
compel and denied Johnson's motion for a protective
order. The court ordered Johnson to provide Thompson the
requested tax and banking records. The court also ordered
both parties to pay their own attorney's fees. Thompson
then moved for an order to show cause and attorney's
fees, alleging Johnson violated the order to compel by not
providing the required information relating to his income.
After a hearing, the court found Johnson was not in contempt
of its earlier discovery order and denied Thompson an award
of attorney's fees.
5] At the hearing on Thompson's motion for relief from
the judgment, Johnson submitted his income tax returns from
2012-2016 showing his average adjusted gross annual income
was negative $50, 972. Johnson and the State argued Johnson
was underemployed on the basis of his income. They argued an
annual income of $49, 302 should be imputed to Johnson for
child support purposes.
6] The district court received a 2016 balance sheet showing
Johnson had $4, 003, 495 in assets, overall equity of $1,
224, 533, and crops in storage of $691, 895. On the basis of
Johnson's assets, overall equity, crops in storage, and
an accounting reflecting his personal spending, the court
found Johnson's tax returns did not accurately reflect
his income for purposes of child support. The court
considered Johnson's personal expenses and monthly budget
and found Johnson's annual self-employment income was
$171, 560.66. The court found Johnson's net annual income
was $113, 916, and ordered Johnson to pay $1, 280 per month
in child support. The court ordered the parties to pay their
own attorney's fees.
7] Johnson and the State argue the district court clearly
erred in calculating ...