This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

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







In re: Vera Elaine Clark,






Richard N. Clark, III,



Filed July 30, 2002


Anderson, Judge


Lake County District Court

File No. F495149


Vera Elaine Clark, General Delivery, Goldendale, WA  98620 (pro se appellant)


David J. Malban, 425 Providence Building, 332 West Superior Street, Duluth, MN  55802 (for respondent)


            Considered and decided by Kalitowski, Presiding Judge, Lansing, Judge, and Anderson, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D  O P I N I O N




            Respondent-father moved to modify appellant-mother’s child support obligation.  A child support magistrate determined that a substantial change in circumstances had rendered mother’s existing child support obligation unreasonable and unfair and increased the obligation.  The district court dismissed mother’s motion for review with prejudice.  Mother argues the child support magistrate did not have jurisdiction over the parties to modify her child support obligation.  We affirm.



Pursuant to a 1996 judgment, respondent-father Richard N. Clark was awarded sole physical custody of the parties’ three minor children.  The parties were awarded joint legal custody and appellant-mother Vera Elaine Clark was awarded visitation.  Since 1996, the parties have been embroiled in unceasing litigation over various disputes, including, but not limited to, property issues arising out of the judgment and decree, custody of their three minor children, and visitation.[1]

            On September 25, 2001, a child support magistrate granted father’s motion to modify mother’s child support obligation.  The magistrate ordered mother to pay $220 per month in child support, an increase from the $197 per month she was obligated to pay under a May 22, 2001, order.  The caption on both the May and September orders named a “Richard W. Clark” as the obligee.  Mother petitioned for review of the child support magistrate’s determination in district court.  By letter, mother argued the court did not have jurisdiction to modify her child support obligation.  The district court held a review hearing, and mother did not appear.  The district court dismissed mother’s petition for review with prejudice because she failed to appear at the hearing.  The district court’s order is the subject of this appeal.



A district court’s determination of subject matter jurisdiction is a question of law, which this court reviews de novo.  See Johnson v. Murray, --- N.W.2d ---, ---, 2002 WL 1578809 (Minn. July 18, 2002); McLain v. McLain, 569 N.W.2d 219, 222 (Minn. App. 1997), review denied (Minn. Nov. 18, 1997).  Subject matter jurisdiction may not be waived.  Marzitelli v. City of Little Canada, 582 N.W.2d 904, 907 (Minn. 1998).

Mother argues the child support magistrate, and the district court, did not have jurisdiction to modify her child support obligation because Minnesota’s version of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) precludes subject matter jurisdiction over the parties in Minnesota.  Mother argues, among other things, that the district court failed to address her argument that Minnesota was no longer the “home state” of the parties’ children.

When the district court dismissed mother’s motion for review, it concluded that it had jurisdiction over the child support issue.  It recognized that mother had brought an action in North Carolina to re-open the original judgment; however, the court noted that mother wrongfully filed the North Carolina action when she absconded with the children after her summer visitation ended.  It therefore concluded that mother’s jurisdictional argument was without merit.

We conclude the child support magistrate and district court had subject matter jurisdiction to modify mother’s child support obligation.  Mother argues UCCJEA applies in this case.  It does not.  UCCJEA applies to child-custody determinations, Minn. Stat. § 518D.106 (2000), and, more generally, child-custody proceedings.  Minn. Stat. § 518D.102(e) (2000).[2]  “The uniform custody laws were established to resolve jurisdictional issues involving interstate child-custody disputes * * * .”  Stone v. Stone, 636 N.W.2d 594, 597 (Minn. App. 2001) (emphasis added) (citation omitted). The child support magistrate’s order modified mother’s child support obligation; the order did not address custody issues.[3]

The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA), however, generally applies to interstate child and spousal-support orders.  Minn. Stat. § 518C.101(b), (u) (2000).  “The UIFSA’s purpose is to unify state laws relating to the establishment, enforcement, and modification of child support orders.”  Kasdan v. Berney, 587 N.W.2d 319, 322 (Minn. App. 1999) (citations omitted).  A Minnesota district court may exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident in an action to modify a support order if

the individual submits to the jurisdiction of this state by consent, by entering a general appearance, or by filing a responsive document having the effect of waiving any contest to personal jurisdiction.


Minn. Stat. § 518C.201(2) (2000).  Moreover, a Minnesota district court

has continuing, exclusive jurisdiction over a[n existing] child support order * * * until all of the parties who are individuals have filed written consents with the [district court] for a tribunal of another state to modify the order and assume continuing, exclusive jurisdiction.


Minn. Stat. § 518C.205(a) (2000).  In certain circumstances, however, a Minnesota district court may be precluded from modifying an original or existing child support order if there has been an intervening child support order issued in another state.  Minn. Stat. § 518C.207(b) (2000).  Minnesota district courts may also lose their continuing, exclusive jurisdiction “with regard to prospective enforcement of the order issued in this state” if the Minnesota child support order is modified by a tribunal of another state with substantially similar laws.  See Minn. Stat. § 518C.205(c) (2000).

            Here, the district court had personal jurisdiction over mother because she appeared, according to the magistrate’s order, by telephone without counsel.  Mother argued in her motion for review that she was not present by telephone and was not notified of the hearing.  But mother failed to provide this court with a transcript of the hearing.[4]  Therefore, we must assume that mother was present by telephone as stated in the magistrate’s order.  Moreover, mother has never asserted that the district court did not have personal jurisdiction over her; instead, she has consistently maintained that the court did not have subject matter jurisdiction over the parties under the UCCJEA.

The district court also had subject matter jurisdiction over the parties because the district court had continuing, exclusive jurisdiction over the existing child support order as amended in May 2001.  Minn. Stat. § 518C.205(a).  There is no evidence in the record that the parties have filed written consents with the district court transferring continuing and exclusive jurisdiction over the order to another state.  Id.  Although mother claims that she has instituted an action in North Carolina to re-open the original judgment and decree, there is no evidence in the record that any North Carolina tribunal has issued an intervening child support order, or modified the Minnesota order, which could have removed continuing, exclusive jurisdiction from Minnesota district courts.  Minn. Stat. §§ 518C.205(c)(2), 518C.207(b).

We also conclude that mother’s alternative arguments are without merit because each argument addresses issues not raised before the child support magistrate and district court, and therefore are not relevant to this appeal.  See Thiele v. Stich, 425 N.W.2d 580, 582 (Minn. 1988). 

            Mother argues the district court denied her due process of law by denying her the right to an attorney as an indigent.  Mother, however, was not entitled to appointed counsel at the public’s expense at the child-support-modification hearing.  Cf. Hepfel v. Bashaw, 279 N.W.2d 342, 348 (Minn. 1979) (indigent parties generally do not have the right to court-appointed counsel in civil proceedings); State ex rel. Ondracek v. Blohm, 363 N.W.2d 113, 115 (Minn. App. 1985) (stating that there is “no statutory or constitutional right to counsel in dissolution proceedings”).  See generally Minn. Stat. § 611.14 (2000) (limiting the type of individual entitled to representation by a public defender).

            Second, mother argues the magistrate and district court erred by naming a “fictitious party” as the child support obligee.  The child support magistrate’s order names a “Richard W. Clark” as the respondent in the caption.  The order itself, however, lists the obligee as “Richard N. Clark,” respondent-father in this case.  The district court’s order dismissing mother’s notice of review also lists the respondent as “Richard N. Clark.” 

It is clear that the caption in the magistrate’s order was a clerical error.  The only difference between father and the “fictitious party” in the caption is the middle initial.  Mother was notified that she had the right to request correction of clerical mistakes when the court administrator filed the magistrate’s order.  There is no evidence in the record that either party moved to correct the clerical mistake.  The district court should correct this clerical error.  See Rogers v. Rogers, 622 N.W.2d 813, 822 (Minn. 2001) (“The district court may correct a clerical error at any time under Minn. R. Civ. P. 60.01 * * * .”).  Mother’s argument is frivolous, pointless, and without merit. 

Mother’s additional arguments implicate issues of custody, visitation, and domestic abuse, which were not raised before the child support magistrate or the district court, and were not addressed in the magistrate’s or district court’s order.  The parties’ custody and related issues are not properly before this court and we will not address them.


[1] Three Lake County district court judges have heard over 35 motions involving the parties.  The parties have already appealed, and this court has decided, several issues surrounding the original judgment and decree.  See Clark v. Clark, No. C0-96-1535 (Minn. App. Mar. 18, 1997), review denied (Minn. May 20, 1997).

[2] UCCJEA replaced the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act, which was repealed effective January 1, 2000.  Johnson, --- N.W.2d at --- n.1.

[3] Because the magistrate’s order does not implicate child-custody issues, mother’s reliance on Schmidt v. Schmidt, 436 N.W.2d 99 (Minn. 1989) and Nazar v. Nazar, 505 N.W.2d 628 (Minn. App. 1993), review denied (Minn. Oct. 28, 1993), is also misplaced.  Mother’s argument that the district court failed to address her forum-non-conveniens argument also fails for the same reason.

[4] Where, as here, an appellant fails to provide this court with a transcript under Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 110.02, subd. 1, review is limited to whether the findings of fact support the conclusions of law and the judgment.  Duluth Herald & News Tribune v. Plymouth Optical Co.,286 Minn. 495, 498, 176 N.W.2d 552, 555 (1970); see also Noltimier v. Noltimier,280 Minn. 28, 29, 157 N.W.2d 530, 531 (1968) (party’s pro se status did not relieve him of providing adequate record).