This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2006).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
COURT OF APPEALS
Beth A. Arneson, f/k/a Beth A. Meggitt,
Richard A. Meggitt,
Filed October 30, 2007
Dakota County District Court
File No. F7-92-13231
Kevin J. Kolosky, 5640 41st Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55417 (for respondent)
H. Gilmore, John Gilmore Law Firm,
Considered and decided by Ross, Presiding Judge; Kalitowski, Judge; and Worke, Judge.
Richard Meggitt appeals from the district court’s order modifying child support and spousal maintenance. When Meggitt and Beth Arneson’s marriage dissolved in 1993, they stipulated that Meggitt would pay Arneson child support until June 2006, the time when they expected the younger of their two sons to graduate from high school. They also agreed to an amount of spousal maintenance that Meggitt would pay, which would increase at that same point of graduation. In September 2005 Meggitt moved to modify child support. The child support magistrate ordered Meggitt to pay only part of the monthly support obligation, with the balance accruing as arrears. The district court reviewed the magistrate’s order and extended Meggitt’s duty to pay child support for one year to correspond with the modified graduation date of the younger son. The court also postponed the spousal-maintenance increase until that same date. The parties challenge different aspects of the district court’s decision. Because the district court did not abuse its discretion by extending child support or by leaving the overall support obligation intact, and because Arneson did not file a notice of review, we affirm.
Richard Meggitt and Beth Arneson married in 1980. They have two sons, born in 1981 and 1987. Their marriage dissolved in 1993, and in 1994 the district court ordered Meggitt to pay Arneson monthly child support and spousal maintenance. They stipulated to modified support in 2002. The stipulation, which was adopted by the district court, required Meggitt to pay $1,150 as monthly child support and $240 as spousal maintenance until their younger son’s anticipated June 2006 high-school graduation, when the child-support obligation would end and the spousal maintenance would increase.
In August 2005 Meggitt joined his union on strike. The next month he moved to modify child support. The child support magistrate (CSM) found that Meggitt’s income was reduced but that he failed to provide the CSM with sufficient income data on two businesses that he owned. The CSM therefore ordered Meggitt to pay only $600 of the $1,150 in monthly child support, with the remaining $550 to accrue as arrears.
Arneson sought review by the district court, moving the court to extend child support through June 2007 because the younger child’s anticipated graduation date had been postponed from June 2006 to June 2007. Meggitt opposed the support extension, citing the 2002 stipulation, but he did not challenge the CSM’s decision to continue his child-support obligation at the full amount of $1,150 and merely delaying his duty to pay a portion of it.
The district court extended child support until the earlier of June 2007 or the child’s high-school graduation. With Arneson’s agreement, the court also correspondingly delayed the stipulated June 2006 spousal-maintenance increase until the new anticipated graduation date of June 2007. The district court affirmed the CSM’s unchallenged child-support decision.
Meggitt appeals, arguing that the court improperly extended support beyond the stipulated date and that the district court’s order lacks sufficient findings of fact to affirm the CSM’s order denying Meggitt’s motion to reduce support. Arneson contends that the district court erred by affirming the CSM’s order to delay Meggitt’s payment obligation for part of the child support.
Meggitt challenges the district court’s extension of child support for up to one year. But the facts and law support the district court’s ruling. District courts have broad discretion in determining child support, and we will reverse only when we find an abuse of discretion. Davis v. Davis, 631 N.W.2d 822, 825–26 (Minn. App. 2001). A district court abuses its discretion if it sets support in a manner “against logic and the facts on record.” Rutten v. Rutten, 347 N.W.2d 47, 50 (Minn. 1984). A district court also abuses its discretion if it misapplies the law. Ver Kuilen v. Ver Kuilen, 578 N.W.2d 790, 792 (Minn. App. 1998).
The record supports the district court’s findings. As of the March 2002 stipulation, the parties’ younger child’s anticipated high-school graduation date was June 2006. Unexpected academic and behavioral issues, however, delayed graduation. By 2003 his grades had dropped significantly. By January 2006, the child had attended three different high schools and, although he began to excel academically, his prior difficulties caused his anticipated graduation date to be postponed to June 2007.
The district court accurately applied the proper legal authority. It noted that even when the parties reach a stipulation, the best interests of the child govern support rulings. Tammen v. Tammen, 289 Minn. 28, 30, 182 N.W.2d 840, 842 (1970). Citing Swanson v. Swanson, the district court correctly noted that stipulated child-support judgments are not contracts that bind the court, and the court retained the discretionary power to reset child support because of the important public policy favoring the nonbargainable interests of the children. See 372 N.W.2d 420, 423 (Minn. App. 1985) (holding that district court did not abuse its discretion by refusing to enforce stipulation). In deciding to extend child support until the delayed graduation, the court considered the child’s interests and rejected an inflexible application of the stipulation, noting that refusing to extend support until the graduation would impair the child’s progress.
We find no abuse of discretion in the district court’s extension of child support to one year beyond the stipulation based on the delayed graduation. We turn to Meggitt’s challenge to the amount of child support.
Meggitt contends that the district court acted improperly by affirming the CSM’s denial of Meggitt’s motion to reduce child support, and he questions the sufficiency of the district court’s findings of fact. But Meggitt never asked the district court to review that portion of the CSM’s order. An appellate court generally considers only those issues that the record shows were considered by the district court in deciding the matter before it. Thiele v. Stich, 425 N.W.2d 580, 582 (Minn. 1988) (quotation omitted); Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 103.04. The issue was never before the district court, and therefore it is not properly before us.
Although Meggitt did not give the CSM detailed financial data from his businesses, the CSM was in the best position to make a financial determination, and Meggitt offers little reason to disturb the CSM’s order delaying part of the support obligation while requiring eventual full payment. Critically, Meggitt failed to ask the district court to review any part of the CSM’s ruling. Meggitt was required to raise the issue in his responsive motion filed with the district court. See Minn. R. Gen. Pract. 377.04, subd. 2(b)(2)–(3) (stating that to raise new issues respondent must state them and specify the supporting evidence or law). Meggitt’s response to Arneson’s motion for review opposed only her request to extend the time of child support. Meggitt did attempt to challenge the CSM’s ruling in other regards during his testimony before the district court. The judge correctly highlighted Meggitt’s failure to preserve the issue, stating, “We’re here today to address whether your child support obligation for [your son] should continue until he graduates.” Meggitt presented neither this issue nor supporting law or facts to the district court, and the district court rejected considering it. Because Meggitt did not raise this issue before appeal, we will not review it or the district court’s alleged failure to enter sufficient findings of fact concerning it. See Thiele, 425 N.W.2d at 582. Arneson faces a similar procedural bar to her contention regarding the partial-arrearage decision.
For the first time on appeal, Arneson challenges the district court’s affirmance of the CSM’s decision to bifurcate Meggitt’s child-support obligation into part payment and part arrearage. She not only failed to raise this issue in the district court, she also failed to raise it in a notice for review filed with this court. The rules of appellate procedure require a respondent to file a notice of review to secure appellate review. Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 106. A respondent’s failure to file a notice of review of issues is fatal to appellate review of those issues. See City of Ramsey v. Holmberg, 548 N.W.2d 302, 305 (Minn. App. 1996) (“Even if the judgment below is ultimately in its favor, a party must file a notice of review to challenge the district court’s ruling on a particular issue.”), review denied (Minn. Aug. 6, 1996), cert. denied, 519 U.S. 1091 (1997). Because Arneson filed no notice of review, she has waived the issue on appeal.
Even if Arneson had filed a notice of review, it is unlikely we would have considered the issue on the merits. She also did not appeal this issue to the district court after the CSM ordered the bifurcation. The district court did not discuss the issue at the hearing. Not surprisingly, the district court did not treat the matter as disputed, making no specific legal conclusions resolving it. This issue falls outside the scope of our review. See Thiele, 425 N.W.2d at 82.