This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).






The County of Olmsted and

Khatra Abdi,





Abdullahi S. Kalif,



Filed March 6, 2001


Willis, Judge


Olmsted County District Court

File No. F100423


Raymond F. Schmitz, Olmsted County Attorney, Elizabeth L. LaRoque, Assistant County Attorney, Government Center, 151 Fourth Street SE, Rochester, MN  55904 (for respondent The County of Olmsted)


Khatra Abdi, 512 14th Street SE, #5, Rochester, MN  55904 (pro se respondent)


Abdullahi S. Kalif, 512 14th Street SE, #5, Rochester, MN  55904 (pro se appellant)


            Considered and decided by Klaphake, Presiding Judge, Amundson, Judge, and Willis, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


Appellant, pro se, seeks review of a judgment in a child-support proceeding.  He alleges that he was denied the opportunity to present evidence on his behalf and that, after withholding of child support, his income is insufficient to allow him to support himself, respondent, and their minor children.  Because it is outside the record on appeal, the question of whether appellant was denied an opportunity to present evidence is not properly before this court.  Because the child-support magistrate did not abuse his discretion in determining the amount of child support, we affirm.



            Pro se appellant Abdullahi S. Kalif and his wife, pro se respondent Khatra Abdi, married in June 1996 and separated sometime before May 1999.  They are the parents of two minor children, ages one and three, both of whom live with respondent Khatra Abdi.

In January 2000, respondent Olmsted County commenced an action against appellant under Minn. Stat. § 256.87 (2000) for reimbursement of public assistance benefits paid to his wife and their minor children.  Appellant objected to the county’s proposed order establishing child support, and a hearing was scheduled for April.  At the hearing, the matter was continued until May to allow appellant an opportunity to present documents verifying his claim that he paid child support to respondent Khatra Abdi during the time that she was receiving public assistance.  With the exception of a document showing his claimed monthly living expenses, appellant failed to file any of the documents requested by the child-support magistrate. 

Following the May hearing, the magistrate found that appellant’s child-support obligation was $487 per month.  See Minn. Stat. § 518.551, subd. 5 (2000) (establishing child-support guidelines).  For the period from January through May 2000, the magistrate ordered appellant to pay this amount as continuing child support and to pay an additional $50 per month as continuing medical support.  The ongoing child support was to be suspended at the end of May because respondent Khatra Abdi terminated public assistance during that month.  Applying the guidelines, the magistrate also found that from May 1, 1999, through December 31, 1999, appellant had the ability to pay child support totaling $2,842 and ordered him to reimburse the state that amount for past public assistance.  This appeal followed.


Appellant argues that the child-support magistrate erred by not telephoning respondent Khatra Abdi during the hearing to verify appellant’s claim that he provided her with child support while she was receiving public assistance.  Appellant did not order a transcript for this appeal,[1] and there is nothing in the record to indicate why the magistrate might have decided not to telephone respondent Khatra Abdi or, for that matter, whether appellant requested that the magistrate do so.  An appellate court may not base its decision on matters outside the record on appeal.  Plowman v. Copeland, Buhl & Co., 261 N.W.2d 581, 583 (Minn. 1977).  Where, as here, appellant acts as attorney pro se, appellate courts are disposed to disregard defects in the brief, “but that does not relieve appellants of the necessity of providing an adequate record and preserving it in a way that will permit review.”  Thorp Loan & Thrift Co. v. Morse, 451 N.W.2d 361, 363 (Minn. App. 1990), review denied (Minn. Apr. 13, 1990) (citation omitted).  Therefore, the question of whether appellant was denied an opportunity to present evidence is not properly before this court.

            Appellant also argues that, after withholding of child support, he does not have enough income to support himself, respondent Khatra Abdi, and the minor children.  It is within the district court's discretion to determine whether public assistance reimbursement should be ordered and the amount of the reimbursement.  County of Crow Wing v. Thoe, 451 N.W.2d 357, 359 (Minn. App. 1990), review denied (Minn. Apr. 20, 1990).  When reviewing a child-support magistrate’s order, we apply the same standard of review that we would apply to the order if it had been issued by a district court judge.  Brazinsky v. Brazinsky, 610 N.W.2d 707, 710 (Minn. App. 2000).  Under Minn. Stat. § 256.87 (2000), a county may seek reimbursement from a parent who “has had the ability to pay” for public-assistance benefits furnished for the child or the child's caretaker.  That parent is liable for

assistance previously furnished which the court deems the parent has the ability to pay after consideration of the parent's earnings, income, resources, expenses, and other factors of Minn. Stat. § 518.551, subd. 5.


Thoe, 451 N.W.2d at 359; see also Minn. Stat. § 256.87, subd. 1 (providing that “[a]bility to pay must be determined according to chapter 518.”).  Regardless of his current financial circumstances, appellant’s “reimbursement obligation is to be determined based on his ability to pay when the benefits in question were furnished by the public.”  Ver Kuilen v. Ver Kuilen, 578 N.W.2d 790, 792 (Minn. App. 1998).  The magistrate, applying the guidelines, calculated appellant’s ability to pay from May 1999 through December 1999 based on his net monthly income and expenses at that time.  Therefore, the magistrate did not abuse his discretion in calculating appellant’s reimbursement obligation.

            In addition to granting the county or state agency reimbursement for assistance furnished, a court may order continuing support contributions by a parent

found able to reimburse the county or state agency.  The order shall be effective for the period of time during which the recipient receives public assistance from any county or state agency and thereafter.  The order shall require support according to chapter 518 * * * .


Minn. Stat. § 256.87, subd. 1a.  Here, the magistrate, applying the guidelines, determined appellant’s continuing support contribution based on his income and expenses.  The magistrate did not abuse his discretion in calculating appellant’s continuing support obligation.



[1] Appellant’s statement of the case to this court indicated that a transcript was not necessary to review the issues on appeal.  Respondent Olmsted County moved for an order dismissing the appeal or requiring appellant to obtain a transcript.  This court denied the motion because respondent’s proper remedy, if it deemed a transcript necessary, was either to order the transcript or to file a motion in the district court for an order requiring appellant to do so.  No. C8-00-1269 (Minn. App. Aug. 17, 2000).