Tamra L. Knudson, Plaintiff and Appellant
Mark D. Knudson, Defendant and Appellee
from the District Court of Divide County, Northwest Judicial
District, the Honorable Paul W. Jacobson, Judge.
Elizabeth L. Pendlay, Crosby, ND, for plaintiff and
M. Knoll, Bismarck, ND, for defendant and appellee.
1] Tamra Knudson appeals from a judgment granting her a
divorce from Mark Knudson, denying her request for spousal
support, and ordering her to pay child support. We conclude
the district court's decision denying Tamra Knudson's
request for rehabilitative spousal support is not clearly
erroneous and the court did not misapply the law in
calculating her child support obligation. We affirm.
2] Tamra and Mark Knudson were married in October 1998. Tamra
Knudson had a child from a prior relationship, and Mark
Knudson later adopted the child. The parties had three more
children together during the marriage. In 2016, Tamra Knudson
filed for divorce. Three of the parties' children were
minors at the time of the divorce, and the oldest of the
three minor children was seventeen years old and a senior in
3] Tamra Knudson requested the district court award her
primary residential responsibility of the parties' three
minor children, child support according to the child support
guidelines, and rehabilitative spousal support for six years.
Mark Knudson argued spousal support was unnecessary and the
parties had a prenuptial agreement that applied to the
division of their property. He also requested that he be
awarded primary residential responsibility of the
parties' minor children and child support.
4] Before trial, the parties reached an agreement on the
division of their property and debts. Neither party
challenged the validity of the premarital agreement. The
parties also reached an agreement on a parenting plan for the
two youngest minor children. The parties' agreement
resolved all parenting issues for the two children, other
than child support. The parties agreed they would have joint
residential responsibility for the two youngest children with
parenting time alternating weeks. The district court adopted
the parties' stipulations after the trial.
5] On April 25, 2017, a divorce trial was held on the
remaining issues. The parties advised the district court that
the only issues left to be determined were Tamra
Knudson's request for spousal support, residential
responsibility for the oldest minor child, and child support.
6] On June 13, 2017, the district court ordered that Mark
Knudson be awarded primary residential responsibility of the
parties' oldest minor child. Tamra Knudson was awarded
parenting time every other Wednesday evening and every other
weekend, with extra time during the summer. The court also
entered an order denying Tamra Knudson's request for
7] The parties filed proposed child support calculations and
supporting briefs. On July 25, 2017, the district court
ordered Tamra Knudson pay $403 per month in child support for
the three minor children after the court calculated each
party's child support obligation based on their net
monthly income and offset the support obligations. The court
also ordered Tamra Knudson's child support obligation
would decrease to $57 per month after her support obligation
for the oldest minor child ended.
8] On October 12, 2017, the district court entered findings
of fact, conclusions of law, and order for judgment. The
court made detailed findings and restated its prior
decisions, including its decisions on residential
responsibility for the children, child support, and spousal
support. Judgment was subsequently entered.
9] Tamra Knudson argues the district court erred by denying
her request for rehabilitative spousal support. She claims
there was evidence establishing that she is a disadvantaged
spouse with a need for rehabilitative spousal support and
that Mark Knudson has the ability to pay. She contends the
court's findings are not supported by the evidence and
the court relied on inappropriate factors.
10] A spousal support decision is a finding of fact, which
will not be reversed on appeal unless it is clearly
erroneous. See Schmuck v. Schmuck, 2016 ND 87,
¶ 6, 882 N.W.2d 918. "A finding of fact is clearly
erroneous if it is induced by an erroneous view of the law,
if there is no evidence to support it, or if, after a review
of the entire record, we are left with a definite and firm
conviction a mistake has been made." Id.
(quoting Krueger v. Krueger, 2008 ND 90, ¶ 7,
748 N.W.2d 671).
11] Under N.D.C.C. § 14-05-24.1, the district court may
order spousal support after taking the parties'
circumstances into consideration. The court must consider the
needs of the spouse seeking support and the ability of the
other spouse to pay. Allmon v. Allmon, 2017 ND 122,
¶ 15, 894 N.W.2d 869. The court must also consider the
Ruff-Fischer guidelines, including the following
[T]he respective ages of the parties, their earning ability,
the duration of the marriage and conduct of the parties
during the marriage, their station in life, the circumstances
and necessities of each, their health and physical condition,
their financial circumstances as shown by the property owned
at the time, its value at the time, its income-producing
capacity, if any, whether accumulated before or after the
marriage, and such other matters as may be material.
Schmuck, 2016 ND 87, ¶ 6, 882 N.W.2d 918
(quoting Harvey v. Harvey, 2014 ND 208, ¶ 15,
855 N.W.2d 657); see Fischer v. Fischer, 139 N.W.2d
845, 852 (N.D. 1966); Ruff v. Ruff, 78 N.D. 775,
784, 52 N.W.2d 107, 111 (1952). The court is not required to
make specific findings on each Ruff-Fischer factor,
but we must be able to determine the reasons for the
court's decision. Berg v. Berg, 2018 ND 79,
¶ 9, 908 N.W.2d 705. ...