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In re Marriage of Tooker

Court of Appeals of Colorado, Seventh Division

May 23, 2019

IN RE the MARRIAGE OF Jennifer Ann TOOKER, Appellant and Mark Glen Tooker, Appellee and Concerning El Paso County Child Support Services, Intervenor.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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          El Paso County District Court No. 14DR3131, Honorable Erin Sokol, Judge

         Beltz & West, P.C., Daniel A. West, Colorado Springs, Colorado, for Appellant

          No Appearance for Appellee

          Marrison Family Law, LLC, Mikayla Shearer, Colorado Springs, Colorado, for Intervenor

         OPINION

         DUNN, JUDGE.

         [¶1] The Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008, referred to here as the GI Bill, 38 U.S.C. § § 3301-3327 (2018), provides eligible veterans with education benefits such as tuition assistance, a stipend for books and supplies, and a monthly housing allowance, 38 U.S.C. § 3313(a), (c)(1) (2018). Mark Glen Tooker, a retired veteran, took advantage of the GI Bill’s benefits to attend college.

         [¶2] In this post-dissolution of marriage dispute, Mark’s former spouse, Jennifer Ann Tooker, challenges the district court’s order modifying Mark’s spousal maintenance and child support obligations.[1] More specifically, she contends the district court erred in not (1) including the tuition assistance and book stipend Mark received under the GI Bill as income for purposes of calculating maintenance and child support; (2) including Mark’s potential timber income in calculating maintenance and child support; and (3) making sufficient findings to modify Mark’s maintenance obligation. Because we disagree with these contentions, we affirm.

          I. Background

         [¶3] The district court entered a decree dissolving the parties’ twenty-year marriage

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in 2015. At that time, Mark and Jennifer had two biological children. Jennifer also had a daughter, A.C.J.T., who was not Mark’s biological child.

         [¶4] As part of the dissolution decree, and based on the parties’ agreed parenting plan, the district court excluded A.C.J.T. from the child support calculation but ordered Mark to pay child support for the Tookers’ two biological children, as well as maintenance.

         [¶5] Within the next few years, Jennifer and Mark each sought to modify Mark’s monthly obligations. For her part, Jennifer asserted that Mark was A.C.J.T.’s legal parent and moved to modify the child support obligation to include A.C.J.T.[2] She also moved to modify maintenance, arguing that circumstances had changed due to a "more than 10%" decrease in her income.

         [¶6] For his part, Mark sought modification or termination of maintenance based on other changed circumstances, including his reduced income (due to his military retirement) and, in his view, Jennifer’s "dramatically increased income."

         [¶7] While the modification motions were pending, the juvenile court, in a separate proceeding not contested here, ...


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