may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat.§ 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
In Re the Marriage of:
Janice M. Mikolai,
n/k/a Janice M. Mahaffey, petitioner,
Thomas J. Mikolai,
Filed May 13, 1997
Affirmed in part, Reversed in Part, and Remanded
Dakota County District Court
File No. 539676
Perry M. Smith, Sisam & Associates, P.A., 6600 France Avenue South, Suite 360, Minneapolis, MN 55435-1804 (for Respondent)
Considered and decided by Kalitowski, Presiding Judge, Davies, Judge, and Mulally, Judge.[*]
Appellant Janice M. Mikolai challenges the district court's decisions denying her requests for: (1) retroactive child support cost of living adjustments; (2) spousal maintenance arrearages; (3) strict compliance with the life insurance provision of the decree; (4) compensation for medical expenses and medical insurance premiums; and (5) automatic income withholding. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand.
The district court denied appellant's motion for retroactive cost of living adjustments to the child support because it determined that appellant failed to comply with the procedures in Minn. Stat. § 518.641 (1996). Appellant argues that she should not be required to follow the procedures set forth in Minn. Stat. § 518.641. We agree. The cost of living clause appellant is seeking to enforce is not based on the statute; rather the clause was part of the dissolution decree entered into two years before the enactment of Minn. Stat. § 518.641, which provides for automatic annual cost of living adjustments based on the consumer price index.
The district court also denied appellant's request for retroactive cost of living adjustments because it determined appellant was barred by laches and the statute of limitations. Initially, we note that the equitable doctrine of laches is not applicable to child support. See Ryan v. Ryan, 300 Minn. 244, 251 n.2, 219 N.W.2d 912, 916 n.2 (1974) (equitable defenses are not available in an action for support arrearages); Vitalis v. Vitalis, 363 N.W.2d 57, 59-60 (Minn. App. 1985) (collection of child support cannot be precluded by the doctrine of laches). With regard to the district court's ruling that appellant's action for retroactive child support is barred by the statute of limitations, we note that neither the district court nor the parties addressed the application of Minn. Stat. § 548.091 (1996), regarding the automatic creation of a judgment for child support arrearages, the docketing of a judgment for child support arrearages, and the survival of such a judgment. See 1988 Minn. Laws ch. 593, § 11 (enacting provisions regarding support arrearages); 1990 Minn. Laws ch. 568, art. 2, § 89 (regarding retroactive application of Minn. Stat. § 548.091, subd. 1a). We therefore remand this issue to the district court for such proceedings as the district court deems appropriate and necessary to address this statute's effect on appellant's request for child support arrearages.
A district court's ruling on spousal maintenance will not be reversed absent a clear abuse of discretion. O'Brien v. O'Brien, 343 N.W.2d 850, 852 (Minn. 1984). The underlying findings of fact must be affirmed if not clearly erroneous. Minn. R. Civ. P. 52.01.
The district court found respondent paid off his maintenance arrearages when he quitclaimed the parties' homestead to appellant, and, in addition, any action to collect the alleged maintenance arrearages is time-barred. Under case law,
divorce decrees calling for support payments in the future are entitled to enforcement by the party to whom the support was awarded, provided that each installment of support payments shall be treated independently and separately and recovery allowed only for those payments which accrue within 10 years from the date of the commencement of the action.
Dent v. Casaga, 296 Minn. 292, 297, 208 N.W.2d 734, 737 (Minn. 1973). Here, appellant did not seek a judgment for maintenance arrearages until almost 14 years after the last payment was due. Therefore, under Dent, appellant's attempt to recover the allegedly unpaid maintenance is barred, and we need not address appellant's argument that the district court erred in finding respondent paid the arrearages. In affirming the district court's determination that appellant's request for maintenance arrearages is time-barred, while remanding appellant's request for child support arrearages, we recognize that maintenance payments are treated differently than child support payments under Minn. Stat. § 548.091.
Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.
[ ]* Retired judge of the district court, serving as judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.