This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
David A. Cox,
Kelly J. Sieger,
Filed March 30, 2004
St. Louis County District Court
File No. F5-01-650188
David A. Cox, 3636 Copley Road, Hermantown, MN 55811 (pro se appellant)
Kelly J. Sieger, 145 Farley Lane, Duluth, MN 55803 (pro se respondent)
Considered and decided by Randall, Presiding Judge, Klaphake, Judge, and Harten, Judge.
Appellant David A. Cox argues that the district court abused its discretion by refusing to modify his parenting time with the parties’ minor child and to hold respondent Kelly J. Sieger in contempt. Further, appellant alleges that the district court erred in its appointment of a parenting time expeditor under Minn. Stat. § 518.1751 (2002).
We conclude that the record reasonably supports the district court’s decision refusing to modify appellant’s parenting time or to hold respondent in contempt. Further, appellant has not shown that the court’s manner of appointing a parenting time expeditor prejudiced him. We therefore affirm.
The appellate court reviews a contempt order under an abuse of discretion standard. Mower County Human Servs. v. Swancutt, 551 N.W.2d 219, 222 (Minn. 1996). Factual findings supporting a contempt order are reviewed for clear error. Id.
“In civil contempt, the function of the court is to make the rights of one individual as against another meaningful.” When the duty is performed, the concern of the court is satisfied.” Hopp v. Hopp, 279 Minn. 170, 174, 156 N.W.2d 212, 216 (1968). Civil contempt is a tool for the court to enforce its orders and the rights of parties; it is not a punishment mechanism for past misconduct. Id. at 173, 156 N.W.2d at 216.
Here, the district court found that respondent had cured her failure to attend parenting class and schedule mediation before the hearing, and that she had agreed to a modification of the child’s daycare arrangement to permit appellant greater flexibility regarding his pick-up time. The court further found that, given appellant’s failure to strictly abide by the letter of the court’s order, it would be unfair to hold one party in contempt and not the other.
The district court’s findings are supported by the record and provide a basis for its decision. We therefore conclude that the court did not abuse its discretion by refusing to find respondent in contempt.
2. Modification of Parenting Time
The district court’s decisions in matters concerning parenting time will not be overturned absent an abuse of discretion. Braith v. Fischer, 632 N.W.2d 716, 721 (Minn. App. 2001), review denied (Minn. Oct. 24, 2001). The district court’s June 11, 2003 order clarified and resolved each of the problems identified by appellant regarding parenting time. The apparent source of appellant’s dissatisfaction on appeal is the court’s failure to give him the option of overnight visits with the child during the week. The parties originally stipulated, however, that such overnight visits would not occur before the child turned four, which has not yet occurred. Further, although appellant complains that the district court refused to give him compensatory time for a missed week-long visit, the court’s June 17, 2003 order granted appellant one week of compensatory parenting time, provided that he give respondent four weeks’ notice of his intention to exercise that right.
Based on this record, we conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to modify parenting time.
3. Appointment of Parenting Time Expeditor
The appointment of a parenting time expeditor is governed by Minn. Stat. § 518.1751 (2002). “The purpose of a parenting time expeditor is to resolve parenting time disputes by enforcing, interpreting, clarifying, and addressing circumstances not specifically addressed by an existing parenting time order[.]” Id., subd. 1b(a). The parties may stipulate to a particular expeditor; if they cannot agree, the court will provide them with the names of three expeditors. Id., subd. 2(a), (b). If they are still unable to agree, the court “shall” select an expeditor. Id.; see Minn. Stat. § 645.44, subd. 16 (2002) (stating “‘[s]hall’ is mandatory”). The court order appointing an expeditor is to set out the name, responsibilities, nature of the dispute, the fees, and whether the expeditor is allowed to make a binding decision absent the agreement of the parties. Minn. Stat. § 518.1751, subd. 2(c). Appellant argues that the district court erred by failing to follow these statutory procedures.
This court dealt with irregularities in the appointment of a parenting time expeditor in Braith, 632 N.W.2d at 724. In that case, the district court did not provide the parties with a roster of potential expeditors, as required by Minn. Stat. § 518.1751, subd. 2(b). Braith, 632 N.W.2d at 724. We concluded that because appellant failed to show that she had been prejudiced by this omission, the error by the court was harmless. Id. (noting that “appellant has not demonstrated that she was prejudiced by the appointment of [the expeditor], other than to disagree with [the expeditor’s] recommendations”).
Similarly, appellant has failed to show any prejudice due to the court’s manner of appointment, other than his general disagreement with the expeditor’s recommendations. We therefore conclude that any error in the district court’s order of appointment is harmless.