This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2006).






In re the Marriage of:
James Richard Huntsman, petitioner,


Zenith Annette Huntsman,


County of Washington, intervenor,


Filed June 26, 2007


Peterson, Judge


Washington County District Court

File No. F7-98-2231


James R. Huntsman, 2570 Moundsview Drive, Mounds View, MN  55112-4110 (pro se appellant)


Bradley C. Eggen, 1100 U.S. Bank Plaza, 200 South Sixth Street, Minneapolis, MN  55402 (for respondent)


Douglas H. Johnson, Washington County Attorney, Julie A. Mougin, Assistant County Attorney, 14949 62nd Street North, P.O. Box 6, Stillwater, MN  55082 (for respondent intervenor)


            Considered and decided by Chief Judge Toussaint, Presiding; Lansing, Judge; and Peterson, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N



            In this appeal arising out of a marital dissolution, pro se appellant-father James Huntsman challenges various district court rulings made in proceedings to enforce his obligations under the dissolution judgment and subsequent orders.  We affirm.


            The parties’ January 2000 dissolution judgment awarded respondent-mother Zenith Huntsman sole physical custody of their child, and set father’s child-support, spousal-maintenance, and related obligations.  The case has been in constant litigation since that time in both the district and appellate courts, and mother has been awarded attorney fees.  See Huntsman v. Huntsman, No. A05-2168 (Minn. App. Sept. 26, 2006) (detailing history of the case), review denied (Minn. Dec. 20, 2006).  The focus of the current appeal is an October 2005 administrative income-withholding order sent to father’s employer and the district court’s related March 2006 rulings regarding attempts by respondent-intervenor Washington County to collect father’s obligations and arrearages.



            Father argues that the October 2005 income-withholding order is defective because there was no enforceable child-support order until December 2005 when, in connection with a related prior appellate matter, this court directed entry of judgment on the district court’s September 30, 2005 order.  Father is incorrect.  Judgment need not be entered on a support order for the order to be effective.  See Minn. Stat. §§ 518.57, subd. 2 (2004) (requiring dissolution court to make an “order” regarding support); .64, subd. 1 (2004) (allowing modification of support “order”); .24 (2004) (allowing court to require security for obligation in support “order[,]” to sequester obligor’s assets, to appoint a receiver for sequestered assets, and to “cause the personal estate and the rents and profits of the real estate to be applied according to the terms of the order”); Erickson v. Erickson, 385 N.W.2d 301, 304 (Minn. 1986) (affirming determination that district court did not abuse its discretion in using its contempt power “to enforce the child support order”).


            We review de novo father’s argument that, under certain state and federal statutes and federal regulations, he was entitled to notice of withholding before withholding occurred.  See Lewis-Miller v. Ross, 710 N.W.2d 565, 568 (Minn. 2006) (stating “interpretation and construction of statutes are questions of law that [appellate courts] review[] de novo”).  While the federal authorities that father cites require that withholding procedures satisfy the due-process standards of the state, none of the federal authorities state that pre-withholding notice is required.  See 42 U.S.C.A. § 654(1), (20)(A)-(B) (West Supp. 2006); 42 U.S.C.A. § 666(a)(1)(A), (b)(4)(A)(i)-(ii), (b)(4)(B), (c)(1)(F) (West Supp. 2006); 45 C.F.R. 303.100(a)(6) (2006).

            The state authority that father cites to support his argument says that administrative actions listed in Minn. Stat. § 518.5513, subd. 5 (2004), are “subject to due process safeguards, including requirements for notice[.]”  Minn. Stat. § 518.5513, subd. 5(f).  The administrative actions listed in Minn. Stat. § 518.5513, subd. 5, include income withholding under Minn. Stat. § 518.6111 (2004).  Minn. Stat. § 518.5513, subd. 5(a)(5).  But this fact cannot be combined with the “notice” mentioned in Minn. Stat. § 518.5513, subd. 5(f), to entitle father to pre-withholding notice because while income withholding under Minn. Stat. § 518.6111, as well as notice of withholding, is mandatory in every child-support order, even a support order without the statutorily required notice is subject to the statutory withholding provisions.[1]  Minn. Stat. § 518.6111, subd. 3; see Minn. Stat. § 518.68, subd. 2 (2004) (reciting statutorily required notices, including withholding notice).  The statutorily required withholding notice was attached to the dissolution judgment, and it states that when Minn. Stat. § 518.6111 is satisfied, “[c]hild support . . . may be withheld from income, with or without notice to the person obligated to pay.”  Minn. Stat. § 518.68, subd. 2(6); cf. Minn. Stat. § 518.5513, subd. 5(a) (stating income withholding is an administrative action that “[t]he public authority may take . . . without the necessity of obtaining an order from any judicial or administrative tribunal”).  Thus, not only did father receive the statutorily required notice, but lack of the notice would not preclude withholding.[2]


            Father argues that not affording him pre-withholding notice deprives him of due process of law because a post-withholding challenge to administrative withholding improperly moves the burden of proof to him.  Claims of denial of due process are reviewed de novo.  Zellman ex rel. M.Z. v. Indep. Sch. Dist. No. 2758, 594 N.W.2d 216, 220 (Minn. App. 1999), review denied (Minn. July 28, 1999).

            Setting aside the fact that father did receive notice of withholding in the dissolution judgment, we note that income withholding is a mechanism for enforcing judicially determined obligations and “does not involve the determination of legal or factual claims by employing procedures similar to judicial proceedings.”  Gerber v. Gerber, 714 N.W.2d 702, 705 (Minn. 2006).  Also, the “full amount of the support order must be subject to withholding.”  Minn. Stat. § 518.6111, subd. 3.  Thus, not only does the income withholding here involve no disputed question, but the public authority lacks the ability to vary the amount of the withholding.  For these reasons, it is unclear what burden of proof is transferred to father, allegedly improperly, if there is no pre-withholding notice of withholding.

            Regardless of that question, when considering a procedural-due-process challenge, courts evaluate the procedure in question by balancing the private interest at stake, the risk that the procedure used will result in erroneous deprivation of the private interest, the probable value of additional procedural safeguards, and the state’s interest in the procedures provided, including the administrative burden and expense that additional procedures would require.  In re Conservatorship of Foster, 547 N.W.2d 81, 85 (Minn. 1996); see Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319, 335, 96 S. Ct. 893, 903 (1976) (reciting this test).  Father’s attempt to show that, under this test, he was deprived of due process of law omits consideration of mother’s interest in prompt receipt of the amounts father owes her, the state’s interest in assuring that father makes those payments, thereby limiting the likelihood that mother will unnecessarily receive public assistance, the limited risk that a withholding process that enforces only judicially determined obligations will result in father being erroneously deprived of his interests, and in these circumstances, the correspondingly limited value of additional procedural safeguards.  Absent consideration of these factors, father’s proposed application of the balancing test is incomplete and unpersuasive.  Cf. People ex rel. Sheppard v. Money, 529 N.E.2d 542, 544-45 (Ill. 1988) (holding mandatory income-withholding provisions of Illinois Parentage Act satisfies constitutional due process requirements).

            Finally, because the nature and extent of father’s obligations has been the subject of extensive litigation in multiple courts for more than six years, it cannot be said that father was unaware of the existence of his obligations, or that the nature and extent of those obligations has not been the subject of considerable judicial process.

            Because father has not shown that he was erroneously deprived of pre-withholding notice of withholding, we do not address his arguments that he is entitled to a pre-withholding hearing to challenge the withholding, that the county is liable to him for violating his statutory right to pre-withholding notice, and that Minn. Stat. §§ 518.6111, .68, subd. 2(6), are facially unconstitutional and unconstitutional as applied to him because they deprive him of pre-withholding notice and a pre-withholding opportunity to contest the withholding.


            Noting that the withholding order simply states that it is “based on the support or withholding order from Minnesota[,]” father argues that the withholding order is unconstitutionally vague.  But father does not argue that the withholding order misstates the amount to be withheld either for his then-existing support obligation ($0) or that the amount being withheld for support arrears ($312.54) is not being applied to the amounts he owes mother on his various unpaid obligations.  Absent alleged prejudice, and with none obvious, reversal is inappropriate.  Midway Ctr. Assocs. v. Midway Ctr., Inc., 306 Minn. 352, 356, 237 N.W.2d 76, 78 (1975).


            Father argues that the district court should have vacated the withholding order because, after funds he posted as a supersedeas bond in connection with prior appellate proceedings were used to satisfy his support arrears on November 11, 2005, the county lost IV-D authority to impose withholding.  But the “support orders” for which income withholding is allowed include orders for spousal maintenance.  See Minn. Stat. § 518.54, subds. 4a(3), 15 (Supp. 2005) (defining “support order” to include order for spousal maintenance and noting public authority’s “[i]ncome withholding only services” are available for maintenance obligations) (respectively).  Father is still obligated to pay maintenance, and he does not allege that income-withholding services do not apply to maintenance.

            Father also argues that between the county’s seizure of funds posted as a supersedeas bond and the amount the county directed father’s employer to withhold from father’s pay, the county seized $7,526.73 more than the amount he posted as a supersedeas bond, and that these excess funds must be returned to him.  But father does not argue that, after accounting for the dispersal of the funds posted as a supersedeas bond, he does not owe at least this amount to mother.  Nor does he argue that he was not given credit for the $7,526.73 against the amounts that he owes mother.  Thus, even if an error occurred in the mechanics of the county’s enforcement procedures, father has not shown that he was prejudiced by that error, and relief is inappropriate.[3]  Midway Ctr. Assocs., 306 Minn. at 356, 237 N.W.2d at 78.


[1] This fact renders irrelevant father’s challenge to the district court’s finding that the statutory notice was attached to the child-support orders involved in this appeal.

[2] The unpublished opinion father cites for the proposition that he is entitled to pre-withholding notice of the withholding is distinguishable.

[3] The district court found that father did not dispute the fact that he owes mother arrearages for maintenance, health insurance, and attorney fees.  Father alleges that this finding is clearly erroneous, citing a portion of his district court memorandum reciting his monthly obligations, but not mentioning the amount, if any, that he had paid on those obligations.  If father is asserting that a recitation of his monthly obligations constitutes a challenge to the finding that he had arrearages, we reject that assertion.  If father is arguing that he made arrears-related challenges in a prior appeal to this court, we note that those challenges were rejected.  Huntsman v. Huntsman, No. A05-2168 (Minn. App. Sept. 26, 2006), review denied (Minn. Dec. 20, 2006).