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In re Parentage of Brown

February 15, 2008

IN THE MATTER OF THE PARENTAGE OF JOSHUA F. BROWN.


Appeal from Rawlins District Court; GLENN D. SCHIFFNER, judge.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

1. An appellate court reviews a district court's order for child support using the abuse of discretion standard. Whether the district court correctly interpreted and applied the Kansas Child Support Guidelines is subject to unlimited review.

2. A district court's application of the wrong legal standard in calculating the long-distance parenting time cost adjustment under the Kansas Child Support Guidelines constitutes an abuse of discretion.

3. A party may not invite the court to err and then complain of that error on appeal.

4. In calculating the long-distance parenting time cost adjustment under the Kansas Child Support Guidelines, the district court should consider (1) which party moved away, thereby causing the expense; (2) the reasonableness of the expenditure; (3) the amount of the expense; and (4) other relevant factors which relate to whether the parties should be given a credit or share in the expense.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: McANANY, J.

Reversed and remanded with directions.

Before GREENE, P.J., McANANY and BUSER, JJ.

By this appeal, Frank Brown seeks a determination that the district court abused its discretion in calculating the long-distance parenting time adjustment used to calculate his child support obligation for his son, Joshua.

Joshua was born in 1996. Brown acknowledged paternity of Joshua in 1997. In 1998, the district court ordered Brown to pay child support of $162 per month.

Brown lives in New Jersey where he works as a teacher and coach. His total income is $56,207. Joshua lives with his mother, Kasandra Finley, in Colby. Finley works two part-time jobs from which she earns a total of $10,712 per year. In July 2005, Finley moved to modify child support.

From 2001 through most of 2006, Brown made 19 trips to visit Joshua. In the course of those trips he spent money for airfare to Kansas City, for car rentals and gasoline to drive from the airport in Kansas City, for airport parking, and for motels. Based only on the incomes of the parties, the Kansas Child Support Guidelines (Guidelines) support would be over $500. Brown contended that considering his debt load and visitation expenses, paying $550 in child support would create a hardship and would "probably slow [him] down from coming to see [Joshua]." Brown requested a reduction of $250 to $300 for long-distance parenting time costs. Finley contended that a reduction of even $50 per month would pose a financial hardship for her. She proposed that Brown be ordered to pay child support of $542 per month with no adjustment for long-distance parenting time costs.

Through mediation the parents agreed to a minimum of four times per year for Brown's parenting time with Joshua and resolved other disputed issues. There still remained, however, the amount Brown should be credited against his child support obligation for his long-distance parenting time costs.

At the hearing on November 16, 2006, the district court determined that Brown incurred an average of $579 for each trip to Kansas to see his son, or a total of $2,316 for four trips per year. On January 25, 2007, the journal entry and the child support worksheet adopted by the court were filed. Brown's child support obligation was determined to be $524 per month, based on a monthly support obligation of ...


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