This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Marilyn M. Grave, petitioner,
L. Elliot Shubert,
Polk County, intervenor,
Filed August 29, 2000
Polk County District Court
File No. F792643
Marilyn M. Grave, 716 Park Lane, Crookston, MN 56716 (pro se respondent)
Gerald O. Williams, Jr., Kissoon, Clugg, Linder & Dittberner, LTD., 3205 West 76th Street, Edina, MN 55435 (for appellant)
Wayne H. Swanson, Polk County Attorney, Sarah S. Barron, Assistant County Attorney, 223 East Seventh Street, 101 Crookston Professional Center, Crookston, MN 56716 (for intervenor-respondent)
Considered and decided by Toussaint, Chief Judge, Amundson, Judge, and Parker, Judge.*
Appellant father challenges the district court’s denial of his motion to review the magistrate’s order granting respondent mother’s motions to reduce to judgment child support arrears and to sequester appellant’s retirement funds. Specifically, appellant contends the district court erred because the court lacked jurisdiction to grant respondent’s motions because Minnesota lost jurisdiction over the matter when an English court modified the original child-support order granting a reduction in child support and a partial remission of arrearages. Because Minnesota never lost its original jurisdiction over the matter, we affirm.
On June 18, 1993, the marriage of appellant L. Elliot Shubert and respondent Marilyn M. Grave was dissolved. The parties have two children, and the court granted the parties joint legal custody. Grave received physical custody of the children, and Shubert was granted reasonable and liberal visitation and was to pay child support of $775.97 per month. Shubert has consistently failed to pay child support since the dissolution. In 1994, Shubert moved to London, England.
In November 1996, the county sought to enforce its order for child support in England. On August 19, 1998, Shubert sought a reduction in child support and remission of arrearages in England. Grave did not respond and on May 26, 1999, the English court reduced Shubert's child-support obligation and partially remitted arrearages.
In 1999, the county, providing non-public assistance services to Grave, learned that Shubert has two retirement accounts in the United States. On August 25, 1999, the county moved to reduce to judgment appellant’s child-support arrears and sequester Shubert’s retirement funds. Shubert failed to respond to this motion and proposed order, and failed to request a hearing before the magistrate. The magistrate then granted the county’s motion. On November 23, 1999, Shubert sought a review of the magistrate’s order. Shubert also asked to have the English court's orders considered as new evidence. Both motions were denied. This appeal followed.
D E C I S I O N
The district court, applying Minn. Stat. § 518C.20, found that Minnesota has jurisdiction to enter the judgment for arrearages and sequestration of appellant’s retirement funds. The construction of statutes is question of law subject to de novo review. Kasdan v. Berney, 587 N.W.2d 319, 321 (Minn. App. 1999). Where material facts are not in dispute, this court need not defer to the district court’s application of the law. Fingerhut Corp. v. Suburban Nat’l Bank, 460 N.W.2d 63, 65 (Minn. App. 1990).
a foreign jurisdiction that has enacted a law or established procedures for issuance and enforcement of support orders that are substantially similar to the procedures under this chapter.
Minn. Stat. § 518C.101(s)(2) (1998). Thus, a proceeding may be commenced in the appropriate English court if the United Kingdom has enacted a child support act substantially similar to Minnesota’s version of the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA).
In evaluating whether England’s laws governing child support are sufficiently similar to the UIFSA, it is necessary to examine their statutory provision regarding modification of maintenance orders registered in a English court:
the registering court shall have the like power, on an application made by the payer or payee under a registered order, to vary the order as if it had been made by the registering court and as if that court had had the jurisdiction to make it.
Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Orders (United States of America) Order 1995, Sch. 3 § 9(1)(a) (U.K.). The parties do not dispute that the child-support order issued in Minnesota was registered in England. Accordingly, under the laws of the United Kingdom, the English court was permitted to modify the child-support order. Contrary to English law, however, the UIFSA provides that a child-support order issued in another state and registered in this state may be modified by this state only if it finds “that the child, the individual obligee, and the obligor do not reside in the issuing state.” Minn. Stat. § 518C.611(a)(1)(i) (1998). If the UIFSA principles operated in the English court could modify a Minnesota child-support order only if it found that Graves and the parties’ children no longer resided in Minnesota. Because Graves and the children continue to reside in Minnesota, a substantially similar provision in England would prohibit an English court from modifying the child-support order.
But that is not the case here; the two provisions are not substantially similar. Indeed, they are not similar at all. England’s law allows for modification, while Minnesota clearly prohibits it. The UIFSA disfavors the displacement of one state’s judgment of a party’s obligation, without some indication the other state is in a better position to attend the child’s interests. Given this approach, it appears that the laws are not “substantially similar” enough for Minnesota to have lost its continuing, exclusive jurisdiction per Minn. Stat. § 518C.205(c).
Shubert further argues that this issue is controlled by Minn. Stat. § 518C.612, which provides
[a] tribunal of this state shall recognize a modification of its earlier child support order by a tribunal of another state which assumed jurisdiction according to this chapter or a law substantially similar to this chapter and, upon request, except as otherwise provided in this chapter, shall
* * * *
recognize the modifying order of the other state, upon registration, for the purpose of enforcement.
Id. Those reasons militate against application of this statute here. First, as discussed in the previous section, the statutory provisions of Minnesota and the United Kingdom pertaining to modification of child-support orders are not “substantially similar.” Second, the district court found that Shubert failed to present any evidence that the English modification order was ever registered in Minnesota. Thus, Shubert fails to meet the statute’s threshold requirement that the English order be registered in Minnesota before our courts are obligated to recognize it.
Shubert next argues that Minn. Stat. § 518C.614 states that a foreign child-support order need not be registered to be both valid and enforceable. If “filing” is construed to be “registration,” then the paucity of evidence regarding the proper Minnesota registration of the English order would not necessarily defeat the applicability of Minn. Stat. § 518C.612. But such construction tortures the rules of statutory construction, because Minn. Stat. § 518C.612 requires substantial similarity between the law of each jurisdiction, which does not exist in the present case. Accordingly, Minnesota is not obligated to recognize and enforce the English court’s modification of the child-support order.
III. Did Minnesota Lose Jurisdiction when it Registered its
Child Support Order in the United Kingdom?
Shubert also argues that because Minnesota lost jurisdiction when it registered its original child-support order in England, the English court now has exclusive jurisdiction in this matter. And that because the transmittal did not specifically preclude modification of the child-support order issued in Minnesota, the English court was free to modify it. But the child-support enforcement transmittal sent to England requested that the child-support order be registered and enforced, it did not request or give permission for its order to be modified. Additionally, Shubert provides no authority for the proposition that registration of a child-support order in another state strips the issuing state of its jurisdiction. Minnesota did not lose jurisdiction when its child-support order was registered for enforcement in England.
IV. Additional Evidence
When Shubert filed his motion for review, the district court denied his request to submit additional evidence, specifically the order of the English court. Although Shubert agreed that the magistrate’s order was unreasonable because it failed to recognize the order of the English court, the district court denied Shubert’s request because Shubert failed to respond to the motion to manifest his child-support arrears in judgment.
The district court has discretion to allow new evidence. Minn. R. Gen. Pract. 372.05, subd. 4. There was no evidence offered to the district court to explain why the English court’s order was not available until Shubert filed his motion for review. In that light, the district court’s denial of additional evidence was not an abuse of its discretion.
* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.