This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).






In Re the Marriage of:

Laura Lea Aldrich, n/k/a

Laura Lea Nelson,

Petitioner Below,


Ramsey County,





Charles A. Aldrich,



Filed June 23, 2000


Crippen, Judge


Ramsey County District Court

File No. F4983319


Susan Gaertner, Ramsey County Attorney, Dianne A. Ward, Assistant County Attorney, Dawn R. Burlingame, Certified Student Attorney, Suite 415, 50 West Kellogg Boulevard, St. Paul, MN 55102 (for respondent Ramsey County)


Lynn A. Wolters, Wolters Law Office, Suite 745, 5001 West 80th Street, Bloomington, MN 55437 (for appellant


            Considered and decided by Shumaker, Presiding Judge, Crippen, Judge, and Klaphake, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


            Charles Nelson appeals the denial of his motion to preclude enforcement in Minnesota of the California decree that sets his support obligation to respondent Laura Aldrich.  Because appellant failed to show the presence of a statutory basis for relief, we affirm. 


            The 1991 California judgment dissolving the parties’ marriage awarded respondent custody of the parties’ children and set appellant’s support obligation.  By September 1995, both parties had moved to Minnesota.  In response to his inquiry, appellant received a letter in May 1996 from a California district attorney.  It stated that appellant’s case had been closed because respondent no longer lived in California and that although appellant’s obligation to the Riverside District Attorney’s Office had been “paid off,” he might still owe support to respondent.  In December 1998, the California decree, along with substantial arrearages, were registered in Minnesota under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act.  An Administrative Law Judge rejected appellant’s challenges to validity and enforcement of the support obligation, and the trial court refused to alter that ruling. 


            A party challenging the validity or enforcement of a registered order or seeking to vacate the registration “has the burden of proving one or more” of the statutorily listed defenses.  Minn. Stat. § 518C.607(a) (1998).  Those defenses include the vacation or modification of the registered order or a full or partial payment of the obligations it establishes.  Minn. Stat. § 518C.607 (a)(3), (6) (1998).

            1. Citing the letter from the district attorney who was involved in the California child support enforcement proceedings, appellant argues that his obligation is satisfied.  As the ALJ and the trial court determined, the letter cannot be reasonably read to say anything other than that (a) appellant’s obligation to reimburse the district attorney’s office was satisfied; (b) it was possible that he still owed support to respondent; and (c) appellant’s case was closed, not because he no longer owed support to respondent, but because respondent no longer lived in California.  Because the letter does not show that appellant’s entire obligation was satisfied, it is insufficient to preclude enforcement of the California decree. 

2.  Apparently, in fall 1991, after the California decree was entered, a hearing occurred in California, regarding appellant’s support obligation.  Thus, appellant argues, the dissolution decree should not have been registered because it may have been superseded by the order generated by events at the fall 1991 hearing.  Because appellant did not present a copy of the order allegedly produced as a result of the fall 1991 hearing, the record before this court does not show that the dissolution decree has been superceded.  See Noltimier v. Noltimier, 280 Minn. 28, 29, 157 N.W.2d 530, 531 (1968) (stating appellant has burden to provide adequate record on appeal).

3.  Citing Damico v. Damico, 19 Cal. Rptr. 2d 88, 89-91 (Cal. App. 1993), appellant alleges that his support obligation was suspended or vacated by operation of California law because respondent concealed the children in 1994 when she moved out of California with the children but without providing accurate notice of her destination.  For purposes of evaluating appellant’s argument, we assume that the Damicoopinion cited by appellant was the controlling law at the relevant time.  But see In Re Marriage of Damico, 856 P.2d 1131, 22 Cal. Rptr. 2d 275 (1993) (reversing the opinion cited by appellant), aff’d by In Re Marriage of Damico, 7 Cal. 4th 673, 872 P.2d 126, 29 Cal. Rptr. 2d 787 (1994).  The ALJ rejected appellant’s allegations that respondent concealed the children, the trial court did not alter that finding, and on the record before us that finding is not clearly erroneous.  See Minn. R. Civ. P. 52.01 (findings of fact not set aside unless clearly erroneous); Vangsness v. Vangsness, 607 N.W.2d 468, 472 (Minn. App. 2000) (stating appellate courts view record in light most favorable to findings of fact).  Therefore, appellant has not met the threshold for relief under Damico.

4.  Finally, we note that appellant’s arguments to this court incorrectly assume that if he produced adequate evidence of a statutory defense, he is entitled to relief as a matter of law.  The statute states that if evidence of a statutory defense is presented, the trial court “may” stay enforcement of the order, continue the proceeding to allow production of additional evidence, or issue an appropriate order.  Minn. Stat. § 518C.607(b) (1998).  “May” is permissive, not mandatory.  Compare Minn. Stat. § 645.44, subd. 15 (1998) (“‘[m]ay’ is permissive”) with Minn. Stat. § 645.44, subd. 16 (1998) (“‘[s]hall’ is mandatory”).  On the record made, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in declining to limit enforcement of the obligation stated in the registered decree.

            5.         To the extent appellant argues that he is currently unemployed, we note that UIFSA allows modification of foreign support obligations under proper conditions.  See Minn. Stat. §§ 518C.609-.614 (1998) (addressing modification of foreign support orders).