This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2006).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
In re the Marriage of:
Jeffrey J. Pierson,
Janell H. Johnson,
Dakota County, intervenor,
Filed January 23, 2007
Dakota County District Court
File No. F6-93-12064
Gary G. Liebmann, 501 E. Highway 13, Suite 114, Burnsville, MN 55337; and
Kevin J. Kolosky, 5640-41st Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55417 (for appellant)
Wayne A. Jagow,
James C. Backstrom, Dakota County Attorney, Valisa L. McKinney, Assistant County Attorney, 1 Mendota Road West, Suite 220, West St. Paul, MN 55118 (for respondent Dakota County)
Considered and decided by Worke, Presiding Judge, Klaphake, Judge, and Dietzen, Judge.
Appellant Jeffrey Pierson challenges the district court’s adoption of a child support magistrate’s decision that determined respondent Janell Johnson owed child support arrears for the period from December 2002 to the date of the order, but that arrears were not proven for the period prior to December 2002. Because the magistrate failed to make adequate findings to support its ultimate conclusions so as to allow this court to properly review the matter, we reverse and remand.
district court has broad discretion to make determinations regarding child
support. Putz v. Putz, 645 N.W.2d 343, 347 (
challenges the adequacy of the magistrate’s findings, insisting that those
findings fail to support the magistrate’s ultimate conclusion that respondent
owed no support for the period prior to December 2002. Although numerous and detailed, the
magistrate’s “findings” merely recite the parties’ claims and testimony, and
fail to make affirmative statements of fact.
See Dean v. Pelton, 437 N.W.2d
762, 764 (
In so doing, we make several observations. At best, the evidence establishes that during much of the period prior to December 2002, respondent made sporadic payments of $144 per month, not the $105 per week (or $454.97 per month) that was specified in the 1993 dissolution judgment and decree. The evidence further establishes that there were periods of time during which one child was placed in a juvenile facility or resided with respondent. The evidence finally establishes that respondent gave a computer, some furniture, and other items to appellant in lieu of child support.
modifications of child support are generally unenforceable; an obligee should
obtain a judicial modification of a child support obligation and
“extrajudicial” agreements between the parties may not relieve the obligor of
the obligation to pay. But see Tell v. Tell, 383 N.W.2d 678,
682 n.2 (
Nevertheless, exceptions to these general rules exist. For instance, a modification may be made retroactive to a period prior to service of the motion if the court finds that the party seeking modification was under some type of disability, misrepresentation, or fraud, or was a recipient of public assistance, that the child support order was entered by default, or that the party seeking modification was institutionalized or incarcerated. Minn. Stat. § 518.64, subd. 2(d)(1)-(4). And a support obligation may be deemed satisfied if the children actually reside with the obligor and the obligor has provided the children with a home, support, and care during that time period. See Minn. Stat. § 518.57, subd. 3 (2004) (providing that court may conclude that obligor has satisfied child support obligation by providing home, care, and support for child if child was integrated into obligor’s family with obligee’s consent).
exceptions give courts a “practical way to prevent inequity.” Karypis
v. Karypis, 458 N.W.2d 129, 131 (Minn. App. 1990) (noting that court does
not “lose authority to do equity in family law unless there is a pure question
of law”), review denied (Minn. Sept.
14, 1990); superseded by statute,
Minn. Stat. § 518.57, subd. 3, as
recognized in Nelsen v. Thompson, 2004 WL 1327446, at *1 (Minn. App. June
15, 2004); see Gully v. Gully, 599
N.W.2d 814, 821-25 (
therefore reverse and remand this matter for additional findings regarding the
amount of arrears, if any, due prior to December 2002. We caution that because actions to recover
unpaid child support payments are subject to a ten-year statute of limitations,
any judgment for arrears is retroactively valid only ten years from September
20, 2005, which is the date that appellant served his motion. See
Dent v. Casaga, 296
Reversed and remanded.