This opinion will be unpublished and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
In re the Petition of:
S. A. L. H. and M. H. to Adopt B. P. C. and
In re the Custody of:
B. P. C., K. R. C., petitioner,
S. A. L. H.,
Filed April 4, 2006
Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded
Traverse County District Court
File Nos. F3-05-50012, F8-04-132
Craig O. Ash,
Ronald R. Frauenshuh, Jr., 129 Northwest Second Street,
Considered and decided by Willis, Presiding Judge; Kalitowski, Judge; and Stoneburner, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
In this consolidated adoption and paternity, custody, and support action, appellant-mother argues that the district court (1) lacked jurisdiction to determine custody and parenting-time issues because respondent-father did not properly commence an action to adjudicate his paternity and did not sign a recognition of parentage; (2) erred by denying appellant’s request for a hearing and by allowing the county to recommend amended guidelines support based on further discovery of respondent’s income; (3) erred by directly ordering a stepparent to pay medical insurance for the child; and (4) erred in dismissing the adoption petition. Because the district court had jurisdiction and did not err in its child-support order or in dismissing the adoption petition, we affirm on those issues. But because the district court erred by directly ordering a stepparent who has not adopted the child to pay medical support, we reverse that part of the order and remand for further determination of medical support.
D E C I S I O N
S.A.L.H., who had a dating relationship with respondent-father K.R.C., gave
birth to a child, B.P.C., in May 2002 in
subsequently ended their relationship and in October 2004 respondent filed a
pro se notice of motion and motion in
Appellant, who had married, sought a stepparent adoption; respondent initially signed a consent to adoption but subsequently personally served appellant with a letter withdrawing his consent. Appellant filed a petition for adoption in February 2005 and the district court held a consolidated hearing on adoption, parenting time, and child-support issues. The parties initially informed the court that they had reached a settlement. But when the parties failed to reach a written agreement, the district court issued its order dismissing the adoption proceeding, determining custody and parenting time, and ordering support, including the provision of medical support by the child’s stepparent.
This court reviews
de novo the legal issue of a court’s jurisdiction. Handicraft
Block Ltd. P’ship v. City of
where a decree of dissolution or legal separation has been entered or where none is sought, or when paternity has been recognized under section 257.75, by filing a petition or motion seeking custody or parenting time with the child in the county where the child is permanently resident or where the child is found or where an earlier order for custody of the child has been entered.
Minn. Stat. § 518.156, subd. 1(2) (2004); see also Minn. Stat. § 257.75, subd. 3(1) (2004) (allowing parent to sign recognition of parentage as basis for allowing commencement of action to determine custody and parenting time).
Appellant does not
contend that this matter should have been brought in another state but argues that
the district court lacked jurisdiction to determine father’s custody and
parenting-time rights because respondent did not sign a recognition of
But underMinn. Stat. § 257.541, subd. 2 (2004), “[i]f paternity has not been acknowledged under section 257.34 and paternity has been established under sections 257.51 to 257.74, the biological father may petition for rights of parenting time or custody in the paternity proceeding or in a separate proceeding under section 518.156.” The district court adjudicated respondent, whose name was listed as the father on the child’s birth certificate, the parent of the child in December 2004, after the parties signed and filed an agreement in district court on custody and parenting time. This order conclusively determined respondent’s paternity. See Minn. Stat. § 257.66, subd. 1 (2004) (stating that judgment or order determining existence of parent-child relationship is “determinative for all purposes”). Therefore, respondent was entitled to seek custody and parenting-time rights as the child’s parent under Minn. Stat. § 518.156.
his notice of motion and motion seeking custody and parenting time before the
district court’s order determining paternity.
But on this record where paternity has never been disputed, respondent’s
premature filing of a notice of motion and motion constitutes a technical
defect, which does not prejudice either party and does not provide grounds for
dismissal. See, e.g., Save Our Creeks v. City of Brooklyn Park, 682 N.W.2d
639, 644 (
Appellant contends that the district court violated her due-process rights by authorizing the Traverse County Child Support and Collections Office to calculate a revised child-support amount for respondent pending further discovery, based on the statutory factors outlined in Minn. Stat. § 518.551 (2004), and to amend the child-support amount without further hearing. Appellant maintains that she is entitled to a hearing to determine whether respondent has intentionally underreported his earnings in an effort to reduce his child-support obligation.
A district court
is not required to hold an evidentiary hearing when considering whether to
modify support. Minn. Stat. § 518.64,
subd. 2(f) (2004); Long v. Creighton,
670 N.W.2d 621, 626 (
implicitly argues that the district court improperly delegated to a county agency
the power to determine child support. A
district court must exercise its own independent judgment and not delegate
legal decisions to nonlegal personnel. See Young v. Young, 370 N.W.2d 57, 66 (
challenges the district court’s order assigning the child’s stepparent, who has
access to medical coverage through his service in the
Respondent argues that although the stepparent was not a party to the original action, he was a party to the adoption action, which was consolidated with the custody motion. But the district court dismissed the adoption action. And once that action was dismissed, the district court lacked authority to bind a nonparty and erred in directly ordering stepparent medical support. See Sammons v. Sammons, 642 N.W.2d 450, 457 (Minn. App. 2002) (stating that the district court lacked jurisdiction over a nonparty). We therefore reverse and remand this issue for the district court, in such proceedings as the district court deems appropriate, to order medical support from one of the child’s biological parents. See Minn. Stat. § 518.171, subd. 1 (a)(2) (stating that district court shall order party with better group dependent health and dental insurance coverage available to that person to name minor child as beneficiary).
that the district court erred in dismissing the adoption petition. First, appellant maintains that respondent
was not entitled to notice of the adoption.
But respondent’s status as an adjudicated parent entitles him to
Appellant contends that parental consent is not required for a stepparent adoption. She cites language in Minn. R. Adopt. P. 31.03, subd. 3(a)(4) stating that “[t]he requirements of subdivision 1 [on consent to adoption] do not apply to . . . the child’s parent in a petition for adoption by a stepparent.” She argues that “subdivision 1” refers to subdivision one of Minn. Stat. § 259.24 (2004), which sets forth the substantive requirement of parental consent to adoption and enumerates certain exceptions to that requirement. See Minn. Stat. § 259.24, subd. 1. These exceptions do not include stepparent adoption. See id. In contrast, Minn. R. Adopt. P. 31.03 prescribes requirements of form for the execution of consent to adoption, such as that the consent be in writing, be executed by two competent witnesses, and include a notice to the parent of the right to withdraw consent.
Appellant cites no legal authority for the proposition that the exclusion from “the requirements of subdivision 1” for stepparent adoptions refers to the substantive requirements of subdivision one of Minn. Stat. § 259.24, rather than the requirements of form stated in subdivision one of the rule. Moreover, we conclude that Minn. Stat. § 259.24 unambiguously requires the consent of respondent, the child’s adjudicated parent, to the child’s adoption.
we reject appellant’s argument that respondent did not validly withdraw his
consent because he served the withdrawal only on appellant, rather than on the
Commissioner of Human Services. Appellant
Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.