may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Kimberly Bunda, for herself
and on behalf of J.K., S.B., and A.B. petitioner,
James T. Bunda,
Filed January 6, 1998
Hennepin County District Court
File No. DA227847
Mary Madden, Christine N. Howard, M. Sue Wilson Law Offices, P.A., 1140 Metropolitan Centre, 330 South Seventh Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for appellant)
Deno W. Berndt, John A. Warchol, Warchol, Berndt & Hajek, P.A. 3433 Broadway Street, N.E., Suite 110, Minneapolis, MN 55413-1783 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Kalitowski, Presiding Judge, Short, Judge, and Holtan, Judge.
On appeal from the issuance of an order for protection, Kimberly Bunda argues the trial court erred by failing to hold an evidentiary hearing or to make findings of domestic abuse when respondent stipulated to the entry of the protection order. We affirm.
A reviewing court need not give deference to a trial court's legal decisions. Frost-Benco Elec. Ass'n v. Minnesota Pub. Utils. Comm'n, 358 N.W.2d 639, 642 (Minn. 1984). The construction of a statute is a question of law, which we review de novo. Hibbing Educ. Ass'n v. Public Employment Relations Bd., 369 N.W.2d 527, 529 (Minn. 1985).
In 1979, the Domestic Abuse Act, Minn. Stat. § 518B.01, was enacted to protect victims of domestic assault. Baker v. Baker, 494 N.W.2d 282, 285 (Minn. 1992). The statute was carefully drafted to provide limited types of relief to persons at risk of further abuse by family or household members. Id. The Domestic Abuse Act is a
"band-aid," designed to curtail the harm one household member may be doing to the other in the short term, until a more permanent dispute resolution can be put in place.
Bunda argues the trial court erred in failing to hold an evidentiary hearing and in failing to make findings of domestic abuse. See El Nashaar v. El Nashaar, 529 N.W.2d 13, 14 (Minn. App. 1995) ("full hearing" on domestic abuse allegations includes right to present and cross examine witnesses, to produce documents, and to have case decided on merits); Mechtel v. Mechtel, 528 N.W.2d 916, 921 (Minn. App. 1995) (district court erred in failing to hold "full hearing" and failing to make findings of domestic abuse). We disagree. The record demonstrates: (1) the trial court issued an order for protection in the form requested by Bunda, (2) that order excluded respondent from Bunda's residence and awarded Bunda temporary custody of the parties' children, and (3) Bunda made a statement on the record concerning the domestic abuse allegations contained in her petition. Because Bunda was the moving party, unlike El Nashaar, and obtained all the relief she sought, unlike Mechtel, the trial court did not err in denying Bunda a "full evidentiary" hearing.
Bunda also argues a dissolution court will have to relitigate the issue of domestic abuse because the trial court failed to make findings on that issue. However, Minn. Stat. § 518.17, subd. 1(12) (1996), requires the dissolution court to consider the effect on the child of a parent's acts of abuse toward the other spouse. That custody determination does not require a finding of domestic abuse, as defined by Minn. Stat. § 518B.01 (1996). Rather, the abusive conduct is relevant only to determine its effect on the children's well being. Contrary to Bunda's suggestion, the purpose of a domestic abuse hearing is not to settle complex custody issues that must be litigated during a subsequent dissolution proceeding. See Baker, 494 N.W.2d at 285 (Domestic Abuse Act designed to provide relief to persons at risk of further abuse by other family or household members). Minn. Stat. § 518.17, subd. 1(12), (13) (1996), merely provide notice to the dissolution court that there may be intrafamilial facts that are relevant to child custody and visitation issues. The issuance of an order for protection, with or without a full hearing, satisfies this notice provision.
Bunda further argues the trial court's failure to make a finding of abuse will cause the dissolution court to ignore or minimize her allegations of domestic abuse. We disagree. The implicit findings of domestic abuse that accompany the issuance of an ex parte order for protection, along with respondent's stipulation and Bunda's recitation on the record, supply a dissolution court with adequate notice of facts relevant to child custody and visitation issues. See Vogt v. Vogt, 455 N.W.2d 471, 474 (Minn. 1990) (by issuance of order for protection, trial court implicitly found probable cause of physical abuse). Under these circumstances, the trial court properly granted the protective order that Bunda requested.