This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

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







In re:  Shannen Rae Horsman,

n/k/a Shannen Rae Danninger, petitioner,





Mark Eugene Horsman,



Filed June 17, 2003


Willis, Judge


Fillmore County District Court

File No. F598664


Thomas M. Manion, Jr., Herrick & Manion, 600 Kenilworth Avenue South, Box 420, Lanesboro, MN  55949 (for appellant)


Michelle M. Guillien, Parke O’Flaherty, Ltd., U.S. Bank Place, Tenth Floor, 201 Main Street, P.O. Box 1147, La Crosse, WI  54602-1147 (for respondent)


            Considered and decided by Anderson, Presiding Judge, Schumacher, Judge, and Willis, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


Appellant mother challenges the district court’s order directing her to use respondent ex-husband’s current wife as a daycare provider for the parties’ eight-year-old son.  Because we conclude that mother, who has sole physical custody of the son, has the exclusive authority to choose a daycare provider, we reverse.


The marriage of appellant Shannen Rae Danninger and respondent Mark Eugene Horsman was dissolved in 1999.  The parties received joint legal custody, and Danninger received sole physical custody, of their only child, C.M.H., who was born in November 1994.

            After the dissolution, Danninger arranged for daycare for C.M.H.  Horsman has remarried, and his new wife is a licensed daycare provider.  In June 2000, Horsman moved the district court for an order directing Danninger to use Horsman’s wife as a daycare provider for C.M.H. while Danninger is at work.  The district court granted Horsman’s motion.

Danninger appeals, arguing that the district court abused its discretion because (1) choosing a daycare provider involves the routine daily care and control of the child, which Danninger has the exclusive right to determine; (2) it erred in construing Minn. Stat. § 518.551, subd. 5(b)(2)(ii)(E) (2002), which provides that there will be no deviation from the child-support guidelines on the ground that the obligor parent cares for the child while the obligee parent is working; and (3) ordering Danninger to use Horsman’s wife as a daycare provider violates Danninger’s constitutional right to privacy.


The district court has broad discretion in deciding issues concerning child custody.  Durkin v. Hinich, 442 N.W.2d 148, 151 (Minn. 1989).  Appellate review of a child-custody matter “is limited to whether the district court abused its discretion by making findings unsupported by the evidence or by improperly applying the law.”  In re Custody of N.A.K., 649 N.W.2d 166, 174 (Minn. 2002) (citation omitted).

Here, Danninger and Horsman have joint legal custody of C.M.H., which means that both parents “have equal rights and responsibilities, including the right to participate in major decisions determining the child’s upbringing, including education, health care, and religious training.”  Minn. Stat. § 518.003, subd. 3(b) (2002).  But Danninger has sole physical custody, which means that she has the right to determine “the routine daily care and control and the residence of” C.M.H.  See id., subd. 3(c) (2002).

On appeal, Danninger contends that the choice of a daycare provider is an issue concerning the routine daily care and control of C.M.H.  Horsman, on the other hand, argues that decisions concerning daycare also concern C.M.H.’s education, in which, as a joint custodian, Horsman has a right to participate.  Horsman asks this court to treat the district court’s order essentially as settlement of a disagreement between joint legal custodians over C.M.H.’s education.

We interpret the words and phrases used in the child-custody statutes according to their common and approved usage.  See Minn. Stat. § 645.08(1) (2002).  “Education” is defined as developing “the innate capacities of [children], especially by schooling or instruction” or providing children “with knowledge or training in a particular area or for a particular purpose.”  American Heritage Dictionary 569 (4th ed. 2000).  Although it is not part of the statutory definition of joint legal custody, “daycare” is defined as providing “daytime training, supervision, [or] recreation” for children.  Id. at 464.  With its emphasis on supervision and recreation, daycare differs from activities that focus on the development of the innate capacities of children or providing children with specialized knowledge.  We therefore conclude that decisions regarding who should provide daycare for a child are not decisions concerning a child’s education, in which joint legal custodians have an equal right to participate, and we reverse the district court’s daycare order.  We do not, therefore, reach Danninger’s alternative arguments.