from the District Court of Morton County, South Central
Judicial District, the Honorable James S. Hill, Judge.
V. Fleck, Bismarck, ND, for defendant and appellant.
K. Keller, Special Assistant Attorney General, Bismarck, ND,
for statutory real party in interest and appellee.
Steve Wolt appeals from a judgment setting his monthly child
support obligation at $923 and from an order denying his
motion for sanctions against the State and its attorney for
allegedly frivolous legal positions posited during the child
support proceedings. We conclude the district court correctly
interpreted the Child Support Guidelines in calculating Steve
Wolt's child support obligation and, accordingly, we
affirm the judgment and the order.
Steve and Kathy Wolt were divorced in 2009 following
contentious divorce proceedings and Kathy Wolt was granted
primary residential responsibility of the couple's three
children and Steve Wolt was ordered to pay child support in
accordance with the Child Support Guidelines. See Wolt v.
Wolt, 2010 ND 26, ¶ 1, 778 N.W.2d 786 (affirming
divorce judgment); Wolt v. Wolt, 2011 ND 170, ¶
1, 803 N.W.2d 534 (affirming denial of motion to award Steve
Wolt primary residential responsibility of the children).
After the second oldest child turned 18 years old and
graduated from high school, Steve Wolt moved to modify his
child support obligation. See N.D.C.C. §
14-09-08.2(1). Relying on N.D. Admin. Code §
75-02-04.1-01(10), which defines "self-employment,"
Steve Wolt argued his W-2 wages received from his Subchapter
S corporation constitute self-employment income resulting in
a total net monthly income of $3, 612 and a monthly child
support obligation of $685. The State responded that Steve
Wolt's child support obligation should be $923 per month
based on a total net monthly income of $5, 054 because under
N.D. Admin. Code § 75-02-04.1-05, which governs the
determination of self-employment net income, his W-2 wages
cannot be included as net earnings from self-employment but
must be considered separately as regular earnings.
The district court agreed with the State's interpretation
of the Child Support Guidelines and ordered Steve Wolt to pay
$923 per month in child support for his remaining minor
child. Steve Wolt then moved for an award of sanctions
against the State and its attorney under N.D.R.Civ.P.
11(b)(2) claiming its arguments in the child support
proceedings were not warranted by existing law. The court
denied the motion.
Steve Wolt argues the district court erred in calculating his
child support obligation.
In Knudson v. Knudson, 2018 ND 199, ¶¶
24-25, 916 N.W.2d 793, we explained:
Child support determinations involve questions of law subject
to the de novo standard of review, findings of fact 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. Ferguson v.
Wallace-Ferguson, 2018 ND 122, ¶ 21, 911 N.W.2d
324. A court errs as a matter of law if it does not comply
with the requirements of the child support guidelines.
The child support guidelines, N.D. Admin. Code ch.
75-02-04.1, govern child support determinations. The amount
of child support calculated under the guidelines is
rebuttably presumed to be the correct amount of child
support. N.D. Admin. Code § 75-02-04.1-13. "A
correct finding of an obligor's net income is essential
to determining the proper amount of child support."
Thompson v. Johnson, 2018 ND 142, ¶ 9, 912
N.W.2d 315 (quoting Raap v. Lenton, 2016 ND 195,
¶ 5, 885 N.W.2d 777). "Income must be sufficiently
documented through the use of tax returns, current wage
statements, and other information to fully apprise the court
of all gross income." N.D. Admin. Code §
75-02-04.1-02(7). Child support calculations "are
ordinarily based upon recent past circumstances because past
circumstances are typically a reliable indicator of future
circumstances, particularly circumstances concerning
income." N.D. Admin. Code § 75-02-04.1-02(8).
Steve Wolt is primarily self-employed by Wolt Transport,
Inc., a Subchapter S corporation of which he is the president
and sole shareholder. We explained the attributes of
Subchapter S ...