This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

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







In re the Support of:

Cherrin B. Burgland

n/k/a Cherrin B. Godak, petitioner,





Duane A. Erwin,




Filed October 16, 2007


Hudson, Judge


Stearns County District Court

File No. 73-F3-05-000439


Janelle P. Kendall, Stearns County Attorney, Richard J. May, Assistant County Attorney, Administration Center, Room 448, 705 Courthouse Square, St. Cloud, Minnesota 56303 (for Stearns County Human Services)


Cherrin B. Godak, 224 South Main, Fourth Floor, Sheridan, Wyoming 82801 (pro se respondent)


Duane A. Erwin, 1258 Ninth Avenue North, St. Cloud, Minnesota 56303 (pro se appellant)


            Considered and decided by Minge, Presiding Judge; Willis, Judge; and Hudson, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


In this child-support dispute, pro-se appellant-father argues that (1) the foreign decree setting his support obligation was improperly registered in Minnesota and the registration deprived him of due process of law; (2) he had a valid defense to the registration of the foreign decree in Minnesota; (3) the Minnesota district court should have allowed him to challenge the jurisdiction of the foreign court to issue the decree in question; (4) the district court misapplied the doctrines of collateral estoppel and res judicata; and (5) the district court should have granted him a “new trial.”  Because the district court did not abuse its discretion, we affirm.


            Appellant Duane Erwin and respondent Cherrin Burgland were married in Wyoming in 1989 and had two children.  Respondent initiated divorce proceedings in 1993.  The dissolution decree, issued by a district court in Yellowstone County, Montana, in March 1994, ordered appellant to pay respondent $216 per month in child support.  On February 10, 2005, respondent filed a notice of registration of foreign order of support in Stearns County, Minnesota.  The notice indicated that “[t]he amount of arrearages is $27,051.69 as of 11/1/98 as alleged in the accompanying documents.”   

On February 25, 2005, appellant requested a hearing to contest the validity and enforcement of the foreign order for support.  A hearing was held on May 9, 2005, in the Stearns County District Court.  At that hearing, Stearns County Human Services, apparently pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 518C.307(a) (2006), appeared to defend the registration of the foreign support order.[1] The district court denied appellant’s motion to contest the validity of the order and stated: “[T]here is very little that I can do here in Minnesota to invalidate a 1994 Judgment and Decree out of the State of Montana.”  The district court also said:

[T]he claimed defects in the judgment that you just described would have to be addressed by the Montana court if you are talking about the final decree.  If you are objecting to information that was under [the] jurisdiction of a different court, you would have to proceed under jurisdiction in that court. 


During the hearing, appellant attempted to submit certain evidence to the district court, including (1) an e-mail from the county recorder of Yellowstone County in Montana; (2) an affidavit from appellant’s son; and (3) a portion of the foreign order for support.  Since he had not provided the documents to opposing counsel, the district court did not allow him to submit them as evidence.  In response to appellant’s request for a continuance to consult counsel, the court stated: “If you seek the advice of counsel and an attorney assists you in establishing a defense, you may refile this motion.”

            In April 2006, appellant requested another hearing to contest the validity and enforcement of the foreign support order.  The district court denied his request for a new hearing on July 19, 2006, and stated:

            A party seeking to contest the validity or enforcement of a registered order in Minnesota shall request a hearing within 20 days after notice of registration. . . .  Now before this Court is [appellant’s] second request for a hearing, which he filed outside of the 20 day time period.  The Court has already dealt with this issue and issued an order.  Consequently, [appellant] is not entitled to a hearing.


Appellant moved for a “new trial” on August 18, 2006, arguing that the district court’s decision was “not justified by the evidence.”[2]  On September 18, 2006, the district court denied appellant’s motion for a “new trial.”  The district court stated in a memorandum that “[appellant] has not since utilized an attorney, nor has he raised a valid defense.”  This appeal follows. 

On February 15, 2007, appellant moved this court for an order directing that certain documents be inserted into the district court file.  The documents include an affidavit from appellant’s son, e-mails from the Yellowstone County, Montana, court administrator, public-record documents from Private Eye, and public-record documents from InfoSpace.  On February 21, 2007, this court issued an order denying appellant’s motion.


            Appellant challenges the district court’s denial of his request for a hearing to challenge the registration of a foreign order of support under Minn. Stat. § 518C.606 (2006).  Appellant argues that (1) the district court violated the rules of evidence and deprived him of procedural due process of law by denying appellant the opportunity to present evidence; (2) he has a valid defense to the registration of the foreign order of support; (3) he has the right to contest the validity of the foreign order of support; and (4) the district court improperly denied appellant the opportunity to refile his motion contesting registration of the foreign order and he has the right to refile and proceed pro se in this matter.  Appellant’s arguments are without merit.  

            This court reviews a district court’s decision to deny a request for an evidentiary hearing for an abuse of discretion.  Axford v. Axford, 402 N.W.2d 143, 144–45 (Minn. App. 1987).  The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act governs the registration and enforcement of foreign child-support orders in Minnesota.  “A support order or an income-withholding order issued by a tribunal of another state may be registered in this state for enforcement.”  Minn. Stat. § 518C.601 (2006); see Minn. Stat. § 518C.603(a) (2006)(“A support order . . . issued in another state is registered when the order is filed in the registering tribunal of this state.”).  To challenge a foreign child-support order “[a] nonregistering party seeking to contest the validity or enforcement of a registered order in this state shall request a hearing within 20 days after notice of the registration.”  Minn. Stat. § 518C.606(a) (2006).  The party contesting the validity or enforcement of a registered order or seeking to vacate a registration has the burden of proving at least one of the following defenses:

(1) the issuing tribunal lacked personal jurisdiction over the contesting party;

(2) the order was obtained by fraud;

(3) the order has been vacated, suspended, or modified by a later order;

(4) the issuing tribunal has stayed the order pending appeal;

(5) there is a defense under the law of this state to the remedy sought;

(6) full or partial payment has been made; or

(7) the statute of limitation under section 518C.604 precludes enforcement of some or all of the arrearages.


Minn. Stat. § 518C.607(a) (2006).

            First, Minn. Stat. § 518C.606(a) clearly requires that a motion must be filed within 20 days of the notice of registration.  Appellant’s second request for a hearing to contest the validity of the foreign support order was filed more than a year after notice of the registered support order.

Second, “[c]onfirmation of a registered order, whether by operation of law or after notice and hearing, precludes further contest of the order with respect to any matter that could have been asserted at the time of registration.”  Minn. Stat. § 518C.608 (2006).  The record shows that in his August 2006 motion for a “new trial,” appellant did not assert any defenses or allege any facts that he could not have asserted at the June 2005 hearing. 

Third, appellant notes that at the June 2005 hearing, the district court stated that appellant would be permitted to refile his motion.[3]  But appellant neglects to mention that he specifically asked the court for a continuance “so that I may consult counsel.”  Only after this request by appellant did the court grant him leave to do exactly that.  Additionally, the district court conditioned a refiling of appellant’s motion on two events: (1) consultation with an attorney, and (2) the establishment of a defense.  Although it appears that appellant did consult an attorney before filing his motion in 2006, and appellant’s brief suggests that he may have a valid defense under Minn. Stat. § 518C.607(a), he failed to present the district court with any evidence that would support any such defense. 

            Appellant’s argument that the district court acted improperly and violated his constitutional rights by refusing his attempt to submit certain documents to the court is also without merit.  Appellant failed to submit the documents to either the district court or opposing counsel, and the Minnesota Rules of Practice governing the procedure in family court state that a party filing a motion must present “[a]ny relevant affidavits and exhibits” to the court and opposing counsel “at least 14 days prior to the hearing.”  Minn. R. Gen. Pract. 303.03(a)(1). 

Appellant’s remaining arguments, that (1) the county attorney acted as respondent’s counsel, and (2) respondent did not have notice regarding the registration of the foreign order, were not raised before and considered by the district court and are not a refinement of arguments made to the district court.  Therefore, this court need not consider them.  Thiele v. Stich, 425 N.W.2d 580, 582 (Minn. 1988); see Jacobson v. $55,900 in U.S. Currency, 728 N.W.2d 510, 522–23 (Minn. 2007).  Additionally, the fact that respondent was the person who actually registered the foreign support order directly contradicts appellant’s statement that respondent did not have notice regarding the registration of the order.

We note also the importance of finality in dissolution matters.  See Shirk v. Shirk, 561 N.W.2d 519, 522 (Minn. 1997) (recognizing “the extremely undesirable consequences triggered by reopening dissolution proceedings in the absence of fraud or bad faith”).  Here, appellant attempts to challenge the validity of a foreign dissolution decree issued in 1994.  As noted by the district court, appellant’s contention that the Montana court that issued the dissolution/support order lacked personal jurisdiction to do so, in addition to any other issues related to that order, would usually be pursued in Montana.  For a Minnesota court to evaluate and determine the validity of a support order entered in another state, there must be sufficient records and legal information furnished to satisfy the burden of proving a defense under Minn. Stat. § 518C.606(a).  Appellant’s bald assertions of impropriety afford no basis for this court to make such an evaluation.

We conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying appellant a hearing on his motion contesting the validity of the registration of the foreign order of support.  We also deny appellant’s motions for “collateral impeachment of all hearings in this matter,” instruction to the district court ab initio, and restitutio in integrum.



[1] Stearns County Human Services is appearing in this appeal for similar reasons.  We note that this appearance “does not create or negate a relationship of attorney and client or other fiduciary relationship” between Stearns County Human Services and respondent.  Minn. Stat. § 518C.307(c) (2006).


[2]We note that a motion for a ‘new’ trial is an anomaly where there has been no trial.”  Erickson v. Erickson, 430 N.W.2d 499, 500 n.1 (Minn. App. 1988).

[3] When a party “requests a hearing to contest the validity or enforcement” of a registered support order, “the registering tribunal shall schedule the matter for hearing.”  Minn. Stat. § 518C.606(c) (2006).  In accordance with this requirement, the district court held a hearing in June 2005.  Despite the fact that the statute does not require a second hearing, the district court extended its discretion to grant appellant the opportunity for a second hearing upon satisfaction of certain circumstances.