This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

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






Ramsey County,



Jennifer A. Sizer,





Gary W. Bultman,



Filed October 31, 2000

Reversed and remanded

Toussaint, Chief Judge


Ramsey County District Court

File No. PF79951066


Susan Gaertner, Ramsey County Attorney, Dawn Renee Burlingame, Assistant Ramsey County Attorney, Child Support Division, Ramsey County Government Center West, 50 Kellogg Boulevard West, Suite 415, St. Paul, MN 55102 (for respondent Ramsey County)


Jennifer A. Sizer, 682 Clear Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55106 (pro se respondent)


Gary Alan Debele, 121 South Eighth Street, Suite 1550, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for appellant)


            Considered and decided by Toussaint, Presiding Judge, Schumacher, Judge, and Huspeni, Judge.*

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N

TOUSSAINT, Chief Judge

            Appellant-father Gary Bultman alleges the child-support magistrate (CSM) abused her discretion when she imposed an ongoing support obligation on him despite the fact that he, respondent-mother Jennifer Sizer, and respondent Ramsey County all agreed that he should not pay child-support.  Because the CSM’s ruling precluded the parties from being heard on the support issue, we reverse and remand. 



            Generally, child-support decisions are discretionary with a district court.  Rutten v. Rutten, 347 N.W.2d 47, 50 (Minn. 1984).  The standard for reviewing a CSM’s support decision is the same as it would be if a district court judge had made the decision.  Brazinsky v. Brazinsky, 610 N.W.2d 707, 710 (Minn. App. 2000).  But, here, Bultman did not appear at the hearing before the CSM and did not seek review of the CSM’s ruling before appealing.  See Minn. R. Gen. Pract. 372.01 (allowing review of CSM’s decision).  Therefore, review is limited to issues actually addressed by the CSM and must be conducted on the record created before the CSM.  See In re Estate of Magnus, 444 N.W.2d 295, 297-8 (Minn. App. 1989) (noting, on appeal from ruling where appellant did not appear at hearing producing appealed order, “only question under consideration” was whether district court correctly applied relevant statute); In re Estate of Magnus, 436 N.W.2d 821, 823 (Minn. App. 1989) (stating, where party failed to appear in district court, review was “necessarily limited to issues which the record establishes were actually raised in, and decided by, the trial court”); see also Thiele v. Stich, 425 N.W.2d 580, 582-83 (Minn. 1988) (stating “appellate court may not base its decision on matters outside record on appeal)”; Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 110.01 (defining record on appeal as papers submitted to district court). 


            Bultman admits Sizer could not waive support, notes that under Rogers v. Rogers, 606 N.W.2d 724, 728 (Minn. App. 2000), review granted (Minn. May 16, 2000), a district court lacks the ability to modify support sua sponte, and argues that the Rogers’ rule should apply to the initial determination of support occurring here.  Rogers involved a modification of support.  Id. at 726-27.  This case involves the initial setting of support in a paternity context.  A paternity adjudication is required to address support.  See Minn. Stat. § 257.66, subd. 3 (Supp. 1999)(stating judgment “shall contain provisions concerning the duty of support”)(emphasis added); Minn. Stat. § 645.44, subd. 16 (1998)(stating “’[s]hall’ is mandatory”).  In paternity proceedings, support is set under chapter 518.  See Minn. Stat. § 257.66, subd. 3 (stating matters not otherwise addressed to be determined in accordance with chapter 518).  Under chapter 518, there is a rebuttable presumption that the child-support guidelines are applicable in “all cases.”  Minn. Stat. § 518.551, subd. 5(i) (Supp. 1999).  Deviations from the guidelines even when agreed to by the parties, require findings.  Id.  Here the parties essentially agreed to reserve child support.  A reservation of support is a deviation from the guidelines.  O’Donnell v. O’Donnell, 412 N.W.2d 394, 397 (Minn. App. 1987).  Therefore, to reserve support as requested by the parties, the CSM had to make the statutorily required findings. 

            Neither Sizer nor Bultman appeared at the hearing.  And the record was otherwise inadequate to allow the CSM to make the findings statutorily required to allow a support obligation that deviated from the guidelines.  Hence, a deviation (here, the reservation), was improper. See, Sherburne County Soc. Servs. on Behalf of Schafer v. Riedle, 481 N.W.2d 111, 113 (Minn. App. 1992) (stating “[t]he trial court may not deviate from the guidelines unless it makes express findings on the reasons for departure, based on the factors listed in [the statute].”)


            This record was inadequate to allow the CSM to make the findings necessary to adopt the parties’ agreement.  This fact, however, did not compel the CSM to set support at the guideline amount.  A district court may refuse to accept a proposed stipulation “in part or in toto.”  Karon v. Karon, 435 N.W.2d 501, 503 (Minn. 1989).  Moreover, 

[W]hile a district court may reject all or part of a stipulation, generally, it cannot, by judicial fiat, impose conditions on the parties to which they did not stipulate and thereby deprive the parties of their “day in court.”  Alternatively stated * * * to the extent that the district court does not accept the stipulation, the parties should not, absent unusual circumstances, be precluded from litigating their claims.


Toughill v. Toughill, 609 N.W.2d 634, 638-39 n.1 (Minn. App. 2000).  Thus, here, the CSM lacked the ability to make the findings necessary to allow her to adopt the parties’ proposed reservation of support and lacked the ability to order guideline support; the CSM should not have set support.  We reverse the portion of the CSM’s order setting support and remand that issue for resolution consistent with the law. 


            Under this analysis, we need not address other aspects of the parties’ arguments.  We express no opinion of how to resolve the remanded issue.  On remand, whether to reopen the record shall be discretionary with the district court.

            Reversed and remanded.

*  Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.