This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. ß 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Robert Charles Schuller, Jr., petitioner,
Karla Jo Schuller,
Dakota County District Court
File No. F9999060
David Gronbeck, One Financial Plaza Suite 1100, 120 South Sixth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for appellant)
John F. Wagner, McDonough, Wagner & Ho, LLP, 14501 Granada Drive, Suite 200, Apple Valley, MN 55124 (for respondent)
††††††††††† Considered and decided by Harten, Presiding Judge, Kalitowski, Judge, Klaphake, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D†† O P I N I O N
††††††††††† Appellant Robert Charles Schuller contends that the district court erred by granting respondentís motion to modify custody and visitation provisions of the partiesí dissolution judgment before mediation had occurred when the dissolution judgment stated that mediation must be attempted before either party may apply to a court for relief.† We affirm.
The interpretation of a stipulated judgment presents a question of law.† Jensen v. Jensen, 440 N.W.2d 152, 154 (Minn. App. 1989).† This court will not reverse a district courtís order interpreting a dissolution decree absent a clear abuse of discretion.† Potter v. Potter, 471 N.W.2d 113, 114 (Minn. App. 1991).† A district courtís factual findings, upon which a visitation decision is based, will be upheld unless they are clearly erroneous.† Griffin v. Van Griffin, 267 N.W.2d 733, 735 (Minn. 1978); Crosby v. Crosby, 587 N.W.2d 292, 295 (Minn. App. 1998), review denied (Minn. Feb. 18, 1999).†
Paragraph 4.1 of the stipulated judgment and decree states that
[a]ny claim or controversy arising under this Agreement involving custody or visitation which cannot be resolved by the parties through direct communication, shall be promptly submitted to mediation.
Paragraph 4.1(a) defines mediation as a ďvoluntary process entered into by the parties.Ē† According to the terms of the agreement, the mediator has no authority to require any agreements, and both parties are required to share the mediatorís fees equally unless they agree otherwise.† Paragraph 4.1(j) states that the mediation procedure must ďbe followed before either party may apply to the court for relief.Ē
††††††††††† Appellant argues that since respondent did not exhaust the mediation remedy before seeking relief in the district court, the district courtís order must be vacated, and a mediator must now be appointed according to the terms laid out in the stipulated judgment and decree.† We disagree.
Although the district court did not directly address appellantís argument, which was presented to the court on the day of hearing, the court implicitly rejected it by ruling on respondentís motion for modification.† Appellantís affidavit stated that mediation had not been attempted.† But respondentís motion and accompanying affidavit explained that respondent did not formally demand mediation before filing her motion for relief in the district court because when respondent requested that appellant participate in mediation, she was told that appellant would not agree to mediation unless respondent paid for all of the mediatorís fees.† Appellantís position was contrary to the terms of the stipulated mediation agreement, which stated that the parties were required to share the mediation fees equally.† On these facts we conclude it was not an abuse of discretion for the district court to decide the issues raised in respondentís motion.†
Further, any benefits of mediation here are now gone.† Mediation is favored as a way to achieve an expeditious result in a relatively inexpensive way that saves the time and resources of the courts.† But, the district court has ruled on respondentís motion.† To order mediation now would delay the final outcome and add unnecessary expenses to the litigation process, contrary to the purpose of mediation.†