This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Anoka County District Court
File No. F6981250
Robert M.A. Johnson, Anoka County Attorney, John R. Speakman, Assistant County Attorney, Seventh Floor, Anoka County Government Center, 2100 Third Avenue, Anoka, MN 55303 (for respondent)
Kevin Dean Hoppe, 4541 199th Lane Northwest, Anoka, MN 55303-9581 (pro se appellant)
Considered and decided by Lansing, Presiding Judge; Willis, Judge; and Stoneburner, Judge.
Appellant Kevin Dean Hoppe challenges the district court’s orders in post-dissolution child-support and civil-contempt proceedings, arguing that the district court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction. Because the district court had jurisdiction over the combined civil-contempt and IV-D child-support-enforcement-and-modification proceedings and did not err in granting the public authority’s motion to intervene under Minn. R. Civ. P. 24.01, we affirm.
The marriage of appellant Kevin Hoppe and respondent Pamela Hoppe was dissolved in Anoka County in 1999 by a judgment that established the parties’ child-custody rights and child-support obligations. The initial support order was modified several times between 1999 and 2002. In July 2003, on respondent’s motion, the district court found appellant in constructive civil contempt for failure to comply with previous child-support orders.
In December 2003, the county filed an order to show cause and motion asking the court to again find appellant in contempt for failure to comply with court-ordered child-support obligations. At the February hearing on the county’s motion, appellant contended that the county was required to intervene in the proceedings in order to have standing to seek a contempt order.
The county subsequently moved to intervene as of right or, in the alternative, for an order finding that intervention was not required. Appellant objected to the county’s intervention.
By order dated May 14, 2004, the district court granted the county’s motion to intervene, finding that the case was a IV-D case because respondent had applied for child-support-and-collections services under 42 U.S.C. 654(4). See Minn. Stat. 518.54, subd. 14 (2004). The court reasoned that
[t]his application acts as an assignment of [respondent’s] rights to receive support. However, even if there has not been an assignment of rights to the county, pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 518.551, subd. 9(b), as long as the case is a IV-D case, the public authority has a pecuniary interest and an interest in the welfare of the children involved. Therefore, the county now has standing to enforce Respondent’s support obligations.
The court also held that it had subject-matter jurisdiction over the proceedings.
After a two-day hearing on the county’s contempt motion and a motion by appellant to modify child support, the district court, by order dated June 18, 2004, denied appellant’s motion to modify child support and found appellant in constructive civil contempt of court for willfully failing to comply with previous child-support orders. The district court also found that appellant had accumulated child-support arrears of more than $16,000. The court stayed a 180-day sentence to the workhouse on conditions. This appeal from the May 14, 2004 and June 18, 2004 orders followed.
Appellant asserts that the district court did not have subject-matter jurisdiction over the proceedings. Appellant argues that once the court determined that this was a IV-D case, the only proper forum in which to hear the case was the expedited child-support process established by Minn. Stat. § 484.702, subd. 1 (2004), and governed by Minn. R. Gen. Prac. 351 through 379. In his reply brief, appellant also contends that the county should not have been permitted to intervene in the district court as a matter of right under Minn. R. Civ. P. 24.01 and could intervene solely in the expedited child-support process under Minn. R. Gen. Prac. 360.01, subd. 1.
I. Subject Matter Jurisdiction Over IV-D Case
The existence of subject-matter jurisdiction is a legal question, which appellate courts review de novo. Odenthal v. Minn. Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists, 649 N.W.2d 426, 434 (Minn. 2002). Appellant correctly asserts that Minn. R. Gen. Prac. 353.01, subd. 1, provides that proceedings “to establish, modify and enforce support shall be conducted in the expedited process if the case is a IV-D case,” but appellant fails to recite the additional language of the rule: “except as provided in subdivision 2 and Rule 353.02.” Minn. R. Gen. Prac. 353.02, subd. 1, permits a party to bring a motion or a proceeding in district court, despite IV-D status, if the proceeding or motion involves an issue of child-support establishment, enforcement or modification and one or more issue(s) identified in Rule 353.01, subd. 3. Rule 353.01, subdivision 3, in turn, identifies a number of proceedings and issues that cannot be heard in the expedited child-support process, including “evidentiary hearings in contempt matters.” Minn. R. Gen. Prac. 353.01, subd. 3(h). Although the rules provide that a county may initiate contempt proceedings in the expedited process, the county is not required to initiate such
proceedings in the expedited process. Minn. R. Gen. Prac. 353.01, subd. 2(a); see also Minn. Stat. § 645.44, subds. 15, 15a, and 16 (2004) (stating that, in construing statutes and rules, “may” is permissive while “shall” or “must” is mandatory). And generally, under Minn. R. Gen. Prac. 353.01, subd. 3(h), evidentiary hearings in contempt proceedings in a IV-D case must be heard in the district court. Clearly, under the rules, the district court had jurisdiction to hear the county’s contempt motion in this IV-D case and appellant’s motion to modify support.
II. Standing and Intervention
In his reply brief, appellant asserts that the county lacked standing to pursue the contempt charge because the county “must intervene under Minn. R. Gen Prac. 360 and become a party before it has standing to initiate a civil contempt proceeding in district court.” Appellant appears to assert that the district court should not have decided the county’s contempt motion because the county filed the contempt motion and order to show cause prior to intervening.
By statute, county public authorities are granted standing and enjoy “real party in interest” status in IV-D cases “where there ‘has been an assignment of support.’” Kilpatrick v. Kilpatrick, 673 N.W.2d 528, 531 (Minn. App. 2004) (citing Minn. Stat. 518.551, subd. 9(b) (2002)). If the child-support case is a IV-D case, but there has not been an assignment of support, “a county has a pecuniary interest and an interest in the welfare of the children and ‘may intervene as a matter of right in those cases to ensure that child support orders are obtained and enforced which provide for an appropriate and accurate level of child, medical, and child care support.’” Id.
Appellant is correct that, because there was no assignment of support by virtue of respondent’s application for child-support services, the county did not obtain automatic standing as a real party in interest under Minn. Stat. § 518.551, subd. 9(b). Rather, the county was required to intervene as a matter of right in order to obtain standing to enforce the child-support order through contempt proceedings. But the county moved to intervene as a matter of right, and the district court granted the county’s motion. Cf. Kilpatrick, 673 N.W.2d at 531-32 (reversing district court and vacating child-support magistrate’s judgment on county’s motion when county did not seek to intervene and therefore never formally became a party to case).
Appellant has provided no authority to support his assertion that the district court ultimately lacked jurisdiction to decide the county’s motion because the court permitted the public authority to intervene after the county’s motion and order to show cause was filed. Although the district court would have lacked jurisdiction to decide the county’s motion had the county not intervened, there was no action on the motion until after the county became a party.
Appellant has cited no authority for his argument that intervention in a IV-D case cannot occur in district court and is only permitted in the expedited child-support process under Minn. R. Gen. Prac. 360.01, subd. 1. Intervention in the district courts is permitted under Minn. R. Civ. P. 24.01. Rule 360.01 applies only to proceedings brought in the expedited child-support process.
 Appellant’s resultant 90-day workhouse sentence was stayed on certain conditions.
 An exhibit in the record shows that respondent first applied for child support services on March 13, 1998.
 Appellant has abandoned his contention, asserted in the lower court, that his case is not a IV-D case.