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Kline v. Burdin

Supreme Court of Maine

September 14, 2017

ANTHONY KLINE
v.
JESSICA (KLINE) BURDIN

          Submitted On Briefs: July 19, 2017

          Anthony Kline, appellant pro se

          David M. Sanders, Esq., Sanders & Hanstein, P.A., Farmington, for appellee Jessica Burdin

          Panel: SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, and HJELM

          HJELM, J.

         [¶l] Anthony Kline appeals from a judgment of the District Court (Lewiston, Dow, J.), adopting the order of a Family Law Magistrate [Ham-Thompson, M.) granting Jessica Burdin's motion to modify the child support order included in the parties' divorce judgment. Because Kline failed to file a timely objection to the magistrate's order as required by M.R. Civ. P. 118, he waived both his right to contest it in District Court and to appeal. We therefore dismiss the appeal.

         I. BACKGROUND

         [¶2] Anthony Kline and Jessica Burdin were divorced in May 2014 by a stipulated judgment [Woodman, M.~), which granted the parties shared parental rights and responsibilities relating to their minor child. Although Kline's annual income was greater than Burdin's, the court stated in the child support order, which was part of the judgment, that it was ordering a downward deviation because the parties were to provide "substantially equal care to the child in terms of time and financial support." As a result, the court did not order Kline to pay child support. See 19-A M.R.S. § 2007(3) (2016).[1]

         [¶3] In August 2015, Burdin filed a motion to modify the child support provisions of the divorce judgment based on a substantial change in circumstances. See 19-A M.R.S. § 2009(1) (2016). In the motion, Burdin sought an order requiring Kline to pay child support calculated pursuant to the child support guidelines, see 19-A M.R.S. § 2006 (2016), based on allegations that Kline had not shared child-related expenses as the divorce judgment contemplated and that she did not receive an expected increase in her employment income. Kline opposed the motion and, after unsuccessful mediation and several continuances granted by the court, a contested hearing was held in July 2016.

         [¶4] On October 23, 2016, the magistrate (¶am-Thompson, M.) entered an order granting Burdin's motion, requiring Kline to make future child support payments as well as an amount of retroactive child support.[2] On November 8, 2016, Kline filed a "Motion for Clarification and for Reconsideration of Judgment Pursuant to [M.R. Civ. P.] 59." In the motion, Kline asserted that certain of the magistrate's findings were contrary to the evidence presented at the hearing and concluded with the following request for relief:

To the extent that this [c]ourt would be inclined to correct the errors or problems noted in this judgment, [Kline] moves to amend the judgment accordingly with regard to his need to make up for any lack of his payment for the child's expenses, and the above-described issues that impacted on the [c]ourt's determination thereof. Wherefore, for the foregoing reasons [Kline] prays for clarification and[] moves to amend the judgment with regard to the above-described issues.

Burdin filed an opposition, and the magistrate summarily denied Kline's Rule 59 motion in an order entered on December 2, 2016.

         [¶5] On December 22, 2016, Kline filed a notice of appeal. We dismissed the appeal in an order stating that there "is no right of direct appeal from a magistrate's order" and that the "notice of appeal should have been treated as an objection to the magistrate's order" pursuant to M.R. Civ. P. 118(a)(1). As a result, the case was remanded to the District Court.

         [¶6] On remand, in a judgment entered on February 8, 2017, the court [Dow, /.) treated Kline's appeal as a Rule 118(a) objection to the magistrate's October 2016 order and adopted that order as the court's judgment pursuant to Rule 118(a)(2). Kline ...


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