This opinion will
be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota, petitioner,
Julie Ann Hill,
Brian A. Hill,
Filed May 4, 2006
Affirmed in part, reversed in
part, and remanded
Hennepin County District Court
File No. SP 216741
Amy Klobuchar, Hennepin County
Attorney, Theresa Farrell-Strauss, Assistant County Attorney, 110 South Fourth
Street, Minneapolis, MN 55401-2280 (for
Julie Ann Hill, 8150 Utah Avenue South, Bloomington, MN 55438-1080
(pro se respondent)
Brian A. Hill, 5218 Madison #6351, Wesley,
AR 72773 (pro se appellant)
and decided by Kalitowski, Presiding Judge; Willis, Judge; and Stoneburner,
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Appellant-father challenges the
district court’s modification of his child-support obligation, which was
originally determined by a Mississippi
court. Because the district court has
the authority to modify the Mississippi order
law, we affirm in part. But because the
district court, without making any of the required statutory findings,
retroactively modified father’s obligation for a period before he served his
motion, we reverse in part and remand.
The marriage of respondent-mother
Julie Ann Hill and appellant-father Brian A. Hill was dissolved in 1990 by a Mississippi court. By an order entered in the Mississippi court, it was determined that
mother would have primary physical custody of the parties’ three children and
that father would pay monthly child support.
The order stated that Mississippi
law “shall continue to control the child support of this Agreement.” In 1992, mother and the children moved to Minnesota, and in 1995, mother applied in Minnesota for child-support enforcement services, which
she began receiving through a Mississippi
enforcement authority. In 1999, Iowa began enforcing support
when father moved there. In 2002, father
moved to Minnesota, and Hennepin County
pursued income withholding to satisfy father’s child-support arrears. The parties’ older daughter and only son were
emancipated in 2000 and 2002, respectively.
The parties’ younger daughter is now 17 years old, and she and mother
currently reside in Minnesota. Father resided in Minnesota
until 2004, when he moved to Arkansas.
February 2003, father served a motion to “determine his child support
obligation” and to quash the income withholding. At a hearing on the motion, father and the
county both acknowledged that the Mississippi
order had not been registered for enforcement and modification in Minnesota. Father initially objected to the registration
of the order but withdrew his objection when the child-support magistrate
advised him that the court “lacked jurisdiction to grant any relief” without
registration. Father also argued that his
arrears should be credited for the time that the parties’ older daughter lived
with him from June 1998 to July 2000. In
a May 2003 order, the child-support magistrate found that the order had not
been registered in Minnesota and directed that
order is “hereby registered for enforcement and modification.” The child-support magistrate concluded that father
was not entitled to retroactive modification of child support because he did
not meet the statutory requirements for such modification under Minn. Stat.
§ 518.64, subd. 2(d). In October
2003, a second child-support magistrate increased father’s support obligation,
law, and continued income withholding to satisfy arrears in excess of $37,000.
moved for review of the May 2003 and October 2003 orders, and the district
court remanded to the first child-support magistrate for reconsideration. Because that magistrate was unavailable, in
October 2004, the second magistrate vacated her October 2003 order, further increased
father’s support obligation under Minnesota’s guidelines, and reduced father’s
arrears by $2,251 as a credit for a part of the time that the parties’ older
daughter lived with him. Father then
moved the district court for review of the October 2004 order. The district court corrected minor clerical
errors and adjusted father’s child-support obligation, concluding that the
second magistrate incorrectly included reimbursed moving expenses as income to father. The district court affirmed all other
provisions of the October 2004 order. Father
filed this pro se appeal, challenging the increase of his child-support
D E C
I S I O N
interpretation of a statute is a question of law, which this court reviews de
novo without being bound to the district court’s decision. Nash v.
Wollan, 656 N.W.2d 585, 589 (Minn. App. 2003), review denied (Minn.
Apr. 29, 2003). The application of a
statute to undisputed facts also presents a question of law. Dachtera
v. Whitehouse, 609 N.W.2d 248, 249 (Minn.
enforcement and modification of foreign child-support orders is controlled by
the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA). Minn.
Stat. §§ 518C.101 to .902 (2004).
The UIFSA recognizes “that only one valid support order may be effective
at any one time.” Unif. Interstate
Family Support Act, Prefatory Note II.B.3 (amended 1996), 9 U.L.A. 287
(2005). The UIFSA’s one-order system is based
on the principle of “continuing, exclusive jurisdiction,” which “ensure[s] that
a state that obtains jurisdiction keeps it during the life of the order unless
a valid reason exists to transfer jurisdiction to another forum.” U.S. Commission on Interstate Child Support’s
Report to Congress, Supporting Our
Children: A Blueprint for Reform 36 (1992).
As long as one of
the individual parties or the child continues to reside in the issuing state,
and as long as the parties do not agree to the contrary, the issuing tribunal
has continuing, exclusive jurisdiction over its order – which in practical
terms means that it may modify its order.
Family Support Act, § 205 cmt. (amended 1996), 9 U.L.A. 340 (2005). But when the parties and the child move to a
different state, the issuing state no longer has an appropriate connection to
the parties or the child to justify its authority to modify the order, unless
the parties consent to the continuing jurisdiction of the issuing state. Id.
at 340-41. “The original order remains
in effect until it is properly modified.”
Id. at 340.
courts lose continuing, exclusive jurisdiction . . . , they lose
jurisdiction to modify the [child-support] order, but the order may still be
enforced by the issuing court and by courts of any states where the order has
been registered.” Porro v. Porro,
675 N.W.2d 82, 86 (Minn.
App. 2004). Although the UIFSA
identifies how the issuing state may lose jurisdiction to modify the order,
that loss does not automatically grant authority to another state to modify the
Instead, sections 611 and 613 of the UIFSA (codified in Minnesota at Minn. Stat.
§§ 518C.611 and 518C.613) identify the circumstances under which another state
can exercise such authority. Id. at 86-87.
does not challenge Minnesota’s authority to
modify his child-support obligation but argues that the district court wrongly
determined that Minnesota
had continuing, exclusive jurisdiction.
The record shows that father’s attorney consented to the Minnesota court’s exercise
of continuing, exclusive jurisdiction, but father now argues that his consent
was unknowing. It appears that father
confuses the concept of continuing, exclusive jurisdiction with the
choice-of-law provisions of the UIFSA. The
existence of continuing, exclusive jurisdiction authorizes a Minnesota
court to exercise its authority to enforce and modify the Mississippi order. When Minnesota
courts acquire such jurisdiction because all of the parties reside in Minnesota, consent by
the parties is not required. See Minn. Stat. § 518C.613(a) (2004). Other provisions of the UIFSA, however,
control whether Minnesota or Mississippi law applies to modification of
the order here. See Minn.
Stat. § 518C.613(b) (2004).
any event, the district court correctly determined that it had continuing,
exclusive jurisdiction. Mississippi courts retained continuing, exclusive
jurisdiction as long as father, mother, or their children resided in Mississippi, or the parties consented to Mississippi’s exercise
of such jurisdiction. Miss. Code. Ann. § 93-25-17(1) (2004). Here, neither the individual parties nor
their children resided in Mississippi
when father requested modification. And while
the parties, at the time of their dissolution, agreed that Mississippi
law would control the amount of father’s child-support obligation, mother and
father did not consent to Mississippi’s
exercise of continuing, exclusive jurisdiction.
no longer has jurisdiction over its order.
Mississippi’s loss of continuing, exclusive
jurisdiction is not sufficient alone to give such jurisdiction to Minnesota courts. The requirements of Minn. Stat. §§ 518C.611
or 518C.613 must be satisfied before Minnesota
courts can modify the order. “If all of
the parties who are individuals reside in this state and the child does not
reside in the issuing state, a tribunal of this state has jurisdiction to
enforce and to modify the issuing state’s child support order in a proceeding
to register that order.” Minn. Stat. §
518C.613(a). When father requested
modification, he, mother, and the children all resided in Minnesota.
Therefore, Minnesota courts had
jurisdiction to enforce and modify the Mississippi
order establishing father’s child-support obligation.
Minnesota issues a support order consistent
with the UIFSA, it retains continuing, exclusive jurisdiction over that order
“as long as [Minnesota]
remains the residence of the obligor, the individual obligee, or the child for
whose benefit the support order is issued.”
Stat. § 518C.205(a)(1) (2004). Mother (the
individual obligee here) and the youngest child currently reside in Minnesota, and Minnesota
therefore continues to have continuing, exclusive jurisdiction over the support
order it entered.
turn next to father’s argument that the district court erred by applying
Minnesota law to modify his support obligation rather than Mississippi law, as
stipulated to by the parties at the time of their marriage dissolution. When Minnesota
obtains authority to modify a foreign child-support order under section
518C.613, its courts “shall apply the procedural and substantive law of this
state.” Minn. Stat. § 518C.613(b). This is so because the “modification of the
child-support order when all parties reside in the forum is essentially an
intrastate matter.” Unif. Interstate
Family Support Act, § 613 cmt. (amended 2001), 9 U.L.A. 261 (2005). Therefore, despite the parties’ stipulation
at the time of dissolution that “[Mississippi]
law shall continue to control the child support,” Minnesota
law is applied to modification of father’s child-support obligation, and the district
court did not err by calculating father’s obligation under the Minnesota guidelines.
final argument is that the district court erred by not giving him “full,
retroactive” child-support credit for the time that the parties’ older daughter
lived with him from June 1998 until July 2000.
The district court concluded that father was “entitled to a one-third
reduction of his support obligation for the period of February 2000 through
of unpaid, child-support arrears that have accrued before the party has brought
a motion to modify child support is a retroactive modification governed by
Minn. Stat. § 518.64, subd. 2(d).” Long v. Creighton, 670 N.W.2d 621, 627 (Minn. App. 2003). Under section 518.64, the district court has
discretion to set the effective date of a support modification. Finch
v. Marusich, 457 N.W.2d 767, 770 (Minn.
App. 1990). But modification of child
support “may be made retroactive only with respect to any period during which
the petitioning party has pending a motion for modification but only from the date
of service of notice of the motion on the responding party and on the public
authority if public assistance is being furnished.” Minn. Stat. § 518.64, subd. 2(d) (2004). Modification can be made retroactive to a date
earlier than service of a motion for modification only if the district court
makes an express finding that (1) the petitioner could not serve a motion
because of disability, misrepresentation, or fraud; (2) the petitioner was a
recipient of specific benefits or public assistance; (3) the child-support
order was entered by default, the petitioner shows good cause for not appearing, and the
record contains clearly erroneous evidence or no factual evidence of the
petitioner’s ability to pay; or (4) the petitioner was institutionalized
or incarcerated. Id.
served his motion requesting modification on February 19, 2003. Because the district court modified father’s
obligation for a period earlier than the date of the service of father’s
motion, it could do so only if it made a finding required by section 518.64,
subdivision 2(d). But no such finding
was made. Therefore, the district court
abused its discretion, and we reverse its order retroactively modifying
father’s child-support obligation. On
remand, the district court must determine whether any of the requirements of
Minn. Stat. § 518.64, subd. 2(d), apply to father before considering any
modification of father’s child-support obligation to reflect the time that the
older daughter lived with him. The
district court may also determine whether father satisfied all or part of his
support obligation by providing “a home, care, and support” for the parties’
older daughter under Minn. Stat. § 518.57, subd. 3 (2004), and, if so,
adjust the determination of his obligation for past support accordingly. On remand, the district court may, in its
discretion, reopen the record.
we note our concern with the first child-support magistrate’s declaration that
order is “hereby registered.” To modify another state’s
child-support order, the order of the foreign court must first be registered in
Minn. Stat. § 518C.609 (2004) (providing that a “party . . .
seeking to modify, or to modify and enforce, a child support order issued in
another state shall register that order in this state”); cf. Rivera v. Ramsey
County, 615 N.W.2d 854, 858 (Minn. App. 2000) (stating that, under the
federal Full Faith and Credit for Child Support Orders Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1738B,
“a court in another state may modify the obligor’s child-support obligation
only if the party seeking modification has registered the order in the second
first child-support magistrate found that the Mississippi
order had not been registered in Minnesota,
and there is no evidence in the record that the order has ever been registered
in Minnesota. The child-support magistrate directed that
order is “hereby registered for enforcement and modification.” But we find no authority for the proposition
that a foreign child-support order can be registered simply by ordering that it
is “hereby registered,” as the first child-support magistrate purported to do. There is a statutory procedure for
registering another state’s support order in Minnesota for enforcement or modification;
that procedure requires obtaining specified documents from the issuing state
and filing them in the registering state. See Minn. Stat.
§ 518C.602 (2004). Given the
mandatory language of the UIFSA and the federal Full Faith and Credit for Child
Support Orders Act that Minnesota “shall register” another state’s order before
modifying it, the district court should have required the registration of the
Mississippi order under Minn. Stat. § 518C.602 before modifying it. See
28 U.S.C. § 1738B(i) (2000); Minn.
Stat. § 518C.609. We conclude,
however, that father waived any objection to this procedural defect by not
in part, reversed in part, and remanded.