This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

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






In Re the Marriage of:

Karen Bennett,

n/k/a Karen Cowdry, petitioner,





Stephen Bennett,



Filed September 14, 2001

Affirmed in part and reversed in part

Toussaint, Chief Judge


Anoka County District Court

File No. FX852885


David Paul Chameli, 1076 West 7th Street, Suite 100, St. Paul, MN 55102 (for respondent)


Robert Edgar Lieske, 3500 IDS Center, 80 South Eighth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for appellant)


            Considered and decided by Toussaint, Chief Judge, Schumacher, Judge, and Parker, Judge*.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N

TOUSSAINT, Chief Judge

            Judgments for child support arrears were entered against appellant Stephen Bennett and in favor of respondent Karen Cowdry in 1985 and 1988.  Neither judgment was renewed.  Appellant later moved to determine the amount of his arrears and to vacate both judgments because they were more than ten years old.  A child support magistrate (CSM) denied relief.  The district court remanded for the CSM to address whether Chapter 270A or other authority allowed collection of the judgments.  On remand, the CSM ruled that the judgments were enforceable under that chapter and again denied appellant relief.  Appellant appeals, alleging the CSM misread Chapter 270A to allow collection on child-support judgments more than ten years old and that Bednarek v. Bednarek, 430 N.W.2d 9 (Minn. App. 1988), which holds that the ten-year limit on collecting on judgments for arrears by action does not apply to the use of the administrative remedy of tax-intercepts, should be overruled.  We affirm in part and reverse in part. 


            Generally, a judgment “survives” for ten years after entry.  Minn. Stat. § 548.09, subd. 1 (2000).  A party in whose favor judgment was entered may enforce the judgment “at any time within ten years after the entry thereof, in the manner provided by law.”  Minn. Stat. § 550.01 (2000).  While judgments may be enforced by action, no action to enforce a judgment can be brought in a state or federal court unless brought within ten years of the judgment’s entry.  Minn. Stat. § 541.04 (2000).  Here, at oral argument, respondent candidly admitted that she cannot privately enforce these judgments by action. 

The CSM denied appellant’s motion to vacate the judgments noting that appellant fit the definition of a debtor under Minn. Stat. § 270A.01, subd. 4 (2000) and ruling that the judgments were enforceable under Chapter 270A.  Chapter 270A may be invoked by a “claimant agency” to which a debt is owed.  See Minn. Stat. § 270A.07, subds. 1, 2 (2000) (requiring “claimant agency” seeking to collect debt to, among other things, identify debt and debtor).  A “claimant agency,” includes “any state agency” and certain other listed entities but does not include a natural person.  Minn. Stat. § 270A.03, subd. 2 (2000).  Here, respondent admitted at oral argument that this case does not currently involve a “claimant agency” under Chapter 270A.  Thus, the CSM denied appellant’s motion to vacate because an entity not a party to the litigation, and not specifically identified by the CSM, allegedly has the ability to enforce these otherwise stale judgments.  It is possible that this ruling by the CSM is correct.  Cf. Bednarek v. Bednarek, 430 N.W.2d 9, 12 (Minn. App. 1988) (holding prohibition on bringing “actions” to enforce judgments for arrears more than ten years after entry of judgment did not apply to administrative tax-intercept procedure).  Absent identification of the “claimant agency” and a showing that it has satisfied the requirements of Chapter 270A, however, whether the ruling is actually correct is unclear.  Therefore, we affirm the CSM’s refusal to vacate these judgments.  We reverse and leave open for another day, however, that portion of the CSM’s ruling holding that the judgments can or will be enforced under Chapter 270A.  Because we do not address whether, under what conditions, and by whom appellant can be pursued for the unpaid support, we need not address the parties’ disputes regarding whether the judgments are enforceable under Bednarek.

            Affirmed in part and reversed in part.

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