This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).






In re the Matter of:

Laura Lee Kopf, petitioner,





Robert Kopf, Jr.,



Filed June 3, 2003


Randall, Judge


Ramsey County District Court

File No. F8-97-1594


John Hugh Gilmore, 64 West Delos Street, St. Paul, MN  55207 (for respondent)


Craig E. Shriver, 250 East Sixth Street, Suite 213, St. Paul, MN  55101 (for appellant)


            Considered and decided by Randall, Presiding Judge; Schumacher, Judge; and Forsberg, Judge.*

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


            Appellant Robert Kopf, Jr., challenges an order denying his motion for amended findings and a new trial to determine where the child he shares with respondent should attend school.  Appellant claims the district court’s findings regarding the best interests of the child are insufficient and do not properly address the factors listed in Minn. Stat. § 518.17, subd. 1 (2002).  Because the record supports the district court’s determination that attending school in Hastings is in the best interests of the child, and the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying appellant’s motion, we affirm.


            Appellant Robert Kopf, Jr. and respondent Laura Kopf began to dissolve their marriage in 1997.  At the time, their only child was just a year old, and her custody was the main issue in the parties’ dissolution.  The parties, after some effort, were able to agree that they would share joint legal and joint physical custody of their daughter.  The final dissolution decree was entered in 1999 and an access schedule was outlined under which the child spent alternating weekends, Tuesday nights, and “off-week” Thursday nights with her father. 

            In July 2000, respondent moved for an evaluation to determine whether it would be better for the child to attend school at Tilden Elementary School in Hastings, closer to respondent’s home, than to continue at the J. J. Hill Montessori School in St. Paul.  Appellant quickly objected to the transfer. In October 2000, a family court referee concluded that the child should continue school in St. Paul for the rest of the school year, and appellant should shoulder most of the transportation burden between St. Paul and Hastings.

            In August 2001, respondent again moved to enroll the child in a Hastings school.  Because the school year was about to begin, the court denied respondent’s motion and ordered that the child remain in St. Paul for the 2001/2002 school year.  But, Ramsey County Domestic Relations was ordered to perform an evaluation to determine which school would best serve the child’s interests.

            The report issued in January 2002, recommended that the child would be better off attending school in Hastings, because she spent more school nights in a two-week period at respondent’s home than at appellant’s.  The schools were shown to provide comparable educational programs and services.  The J. J. Hill School provides a Montessori-style education and many great opportunities.  The Hastings school district provides a more traditional style of education, but has many extended learning programs available that would provide the child with a quality education.  The report finally recommended that the child continue in the existing access schedule, to which she was fairly well adjusted.   It is undisputed that the child was well adjusted at the J. J. Hill School.  There is no indication that she has failed to thrive since the transfer to the Hastings school system. 

            Based on this report and the arguments of counsel, the court ordered that the child be enrolled in school in Hastings for the 2002-2003 year, with transportation duties to be shared by the parties.  Appellant moved for amended findings and a new trial.  The motions were denied.  This appeal follows.


            A child’s education is a legal custody issue.  Minn. Stat. § 518.003, subd. 3(a) (2002).  The courts treat the resolution of a specific issue of custodial care as it would any general determination of custody.  Novak v. Novak, 446 N.W.2d 422, 424 (Minn. App. 1989), review denied (Minn. Dec. 1, 1989).  This court’s review of a custody determination is limited to whether the district court abused its discretion.  Silbaugh v. Silbaugh, 543 N.W.2d 639, 641 (Minn. 1996).  Findings of fact that form the basis for the district court’s custody decisions are not set aside by this court unless clearly erroneous, and we view the ultimate decision in the light most favorable to those findings.  Minn. R. Civ. P. 52.01; Ayers v. Ayers, 508 N.W.2d 515, 521 (Minn. 1993).  But, effective appellate review is only possible when the district court has made sufficiently detailed findings that show it has considered all relevant factors required by the statute.  Stich v. Stich, 435 N.W.2d 52, 53 (Minn. 1989). 

            Appellant claims that the district court’s findings are insufficient to show that it considered all the best interests of the child factors found in Minn. Stat. § 518.17, subd. 1 (2002).  Although the district court must consider all those factors, it need not make specific findings on each and every one.  Nazar v. Nazar, 505 N.W.2d 628, 633 (Minn. App. 1993), review denied (Minn. Oct. 28, 1993).  Here, the district court’s findings specifically state that it considered the best interests of the child.  It found that both parents love the child and are genuinely concerned about the child’s welfare.  It also found that both schools are of good quality, would adequately meet the child’s educational needs, and that no harm would result from the change in schools.  The court specifically noted that the access schedule resulted in the child spending slightly more time at her mother’s during a two-week period.  Attending school in Hastings decreases the child’s travel time.   

            Appellant is correct that the district court’s findings are not as specific as they could be.  But, these findings are supported by documents in the record, and are not clearly erroneous.  Viewing the decision in the light most favorable to the findings, we cannot say the district court abused its discretion in determining that it is in the child’s best interests to attend school in Hastings. 



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