Sallae v. Omar, 090721 NECA, A-21-117

CourtCourt of Appeals of Nebraska
JudgeRiedmann, Bishop, and Arterburn, Judges.
Writing for the CourtRiedmann, Judge
PartiesRaehan Q. Sallae, appellee, v. Hazem Omar, appellant.
Docket NumberA-21-117

Raehan Q. Sallae, appellee,

v.

Hazem Omar, appellant.

No. A-21-117

Court of Appeals of Nebraska

September 7, 2021

THIS OPINION IS NOT DESIGNATED FOR PERMANENT PUBLICATION AND MAY NOT BE CITED EXCEPT AS PROVIDED BY NEB. CT. R. APP. P. § 2-102(E).

Appeal from the District Court for Lancaster County: Lori A. Maret, Judge.

Brett McArthur for appellant.

Trevin H. Preble for appellee.

Riedmann, Bishop, and Arterburn, Judges.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND JUDGMENT ON APPEAL

Riedmann, Judge

INTRODUCTION

Hazem Omar appeals the order of the district court for Lancaster County which modified his child support obligation owed to Raehan Q. Sallae for their minor child. Finding no abuse of discretion in the court's decision, we affirm.

BACKGROUND

Omar and Sallae are the parents of a minor child who was born in 2013. In 2016, the district court entered an order requiring Omar to pay child support of $50 per month. In January 2020, Sallae filed a complaint to modify child support, which alleged that since entry of the original order, one or both of the parties had changed employment and/or had a substantial change in income, that said changes resulted in at least a 10-percent variation of the current child support obligation, and that said changes have lasted for at least 3 months and could reasonably be expected to last for an additional 6 months.

A hearing was held before a child support referee in November 2020. The evidence presented was not particularly clear, but we understand that Omar was employed driving a small truck state-to-state from 2018 until March 2020, when he was laid off due to the coronavirus pandemic. Although his testimony on this topic was imprecise, it generally appears that he received unemployment benefits during that time for approximately 8 to 12 weeks in the amount of $400 or $500 per week. He apparently resumed working for the same employer at some point thereafter until August 2020 and has not worked since that time. When he was working, he was paid by the mile and earned about $1, 200 or $1, 500 per month, depending on how busy he was. In addition, according to his answers to interrogatories, he did mechanical work on cars for friends, earning an additional $200 to $300 per month. His brothers have been supporting him since he stopped working in August 2020.

Omar was asked whether he is currently able to work 40 hours per week, and he responded that a doctor has told him that he cannot work more than 20 hours per week because he has "a problem with [his] leg." He also alleged that he suffers from sleeping issues, difficulties associating with other people, and anger issues. He did not offer any documentation to support these claims, and despite his testimony, he admitted in his discovery responses that he is able-bodied and capable of maintaining gainful employment, although he denied being able to work 40 hours per week or earn at least $9 per hour. He also stated in his discovery answers that he earned a college degree in Iraq, but at the modification hearing, he testified that he never went to college because he had no right to attend school in Iraq.

At the time of the modification hearing, Sallae was working, earning $18.18 per hour. She carried health insurance for herself through her employer, and the minor child was covered by Medicaid. As of January 2021, however, Sallae was to receive a cost of living increase in her earnings, which would disqualify the minor child from Medicaid eligibility; thus, as of that time, she would need to insure him under the coverage offered through her employer.

Sallae testified that she believed Omar was able-bodied and capable of working 40 hours per week and earning at least $9 per hour. She explained that when she was in a relationship with Omar, around 2015 or 2016, she sought psychiatric help for him for some anger issues and sleeping problems. However, while they were together, he was physically able to work, frequently working "cash-money jobs" and "odd jobs," and worked overtime at times. On cross-examination, Sallae was asked whether it was her position that Omar's ability to hold employment and earn money was the same as it was when they were in a relationship, and she confirmed that it was.

The district court entered an order in January 2021 finding that a material change in circumstances had occurred since entry of the previous order of support in that the incomes of both parties had changed and that the child's needs had increased as a result of the change in health insurance. Thus, the court utilized gross earnings for Sallae of $3, 151.20 per month and for Omar of $1, 500 per month to calculate child support and ordered Omar to pay $258 per month. The court's calculation granted a credit to Sallae for health insurance premiums paid for the minor child. Omar appeals.

ASSIGNMENTS OF ERROR

Omar assigns that the district court erred in (1) finding a material...

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