may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
County of Olmsted, petitioner,
Ronald Gary Stevens,
Filed February 3, 1998
File No. FX885990
Raymond F. Schmitz, Olmsted County Attorney, Thomas P. Kelly, Assistant County Attorney, Julie S. Voigt, Assistant County Attorney, Government Center, 151 SE 4th Street, Rochester, MN 55904 (for appellant)
Kristine L. Dicke, Ryan & Grinde, Ltd., 407 14th Street NW, P.O. Box 6667, Rochester, MN 55903 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Lansing, Presiding Judge, Willis, Judge, and Foley, Judge.[*]
Olmsted County appeals from a district court order reducing child support based on an agreement between the parents. Respondent Ronald Gary Stevens appeals from that portion of the district court's order that requires him to pay medical support and from the district court's denial of attorney fees, and he requests attorney fees on appeal. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand.
In the autumn of 1992, the county and Glynn jointly moved to increase child support, to order reimbursement of certain medical expenses for A.G. through June 1992, and to incorporate various statutory provisions into any resulting order. In May 1993, the district court granted the motion to increase child support, adjusting Stevens's obligation to $374 per month. The court did not modify the 1990 medical support order but directed the parties to stipulate to the amount Stevens owed Glynn for certain medical expenses. The court also incorporated into the order the requested statutory provisions.
In May 1994, a scheduled cost-of-living adjustment took effect, increasing child support to $392 per month. Sometime in 1995, Glynn and Stevens agreed to reduce child support. On July 3, 1996, Glynn memorialized this agreement in a letter that states:
To Whom It May Concern:
Ron Stevens and myself (Margaret Glynn) agreed to drop child support to $292 August of 95 due to Ron Stevens' disability. In May of 96 we agreed to change the child support for [A.G.] to $300 a month - this will change with his (Ron's) increase of income.
[signed] Margaret Glynn
Stevens did not pay court-ordered child support of $392 per month; rather, pursuant to the parties' agreement, he paid $292 per month from August 1995 through April 1996, and he has paid $300 per month since May 1996. In January 1997, the county moved to have Stevens found in contempt for not paying court-ordered child support. Stevens responded with a motion to enforce the agreement between Glynn and himself and for attorney fees and costs.
After a hearing on the motions, the district court made findings regarding Stevens's income at the time of the hearing, but not Glynn's income. The court found that neither Glynn nor Stevens had private medical insurance but that Glynn would be eligible for medical insurance after working for her new employer for three months. The district court made no findings regarding A.G.'s best interests, except to find that "Glynn does not claim to have extraordinary expenses, medical, child care, or otherwise, for the minor child." In its conclusions of law, the court found that (1) the parties entered into a valid contract to modify child support, (2) Glynn does not challenge the validity of that contract, (3) the parties are bound by the contract, and (4) there had been no substantial change in circumstances since the 1993 order that warranted an increase in child support. The court ordered Stevens to pay $300 per month for child support and to pay $50 per month for A.G.'s medical support until Stevens obtains medical and dental insurance covering A.G. or until Glynn obtains such insurance, at which time Stevens must pay half the cost of her premiums. The district court reduced past child support to the amount actually paid by Stevens pursuant to the parties' agreement and denied Stevens's motion for attorney fees. This appeal followed.
I. Child Support Modification
The modification of child support is within the broad discretion of the district court, and this court will reverse only if it finds a clearly erroneous conclusion against logic and the facts in the record. Moylan v. Moylan, 384 N.W.2d 859, 864 (Minn. 1986). The child support guidelines "are a rebuttable presumption and shall be used in all cases when establishing or modifying child support." Minn. Stat. § 518.551, subd. 5(i) (1996). If the district court deviates from the guidelines, it must make findings to support the deviation regarding the best interests of the child and the needs and resources of each parent. Id.; Swick v. Swick, 467 N.W.2d 328, 332 (Minn. App. 1991), review denied (Minn. May 16, 1991). A county has standing to seek enforcement of court-ordered child support obligations. See Minn. Stat. § 518.64, subd. 1 (1996) (providing public authority may bring contempt motion if obligor in arrears in support payments).
The district court abused its discretion by deviating from the guidelines without making findings regarding Glynn's income at the time of the hearing or regarding how the deviation serves the best interests of A.G., as required by Minn. Stat. § 518.551, subd. 5(i). We remand for the district court to make the required statutory findings and to modify child support, if appropriate, based on those findings. The district court may, in its discretion, reopen the record; and we express no opinion regarding how any issue should be decided on remand.
II. Medical Support
Stevens argues that the district court erred in ordering him to pay medical support, claiming that the 1993 order did not require medical support and the court found there had been no change in circumstances since the 1993 order. But it is within the district court's discretion to modify a support order upon a showing of receipt of medical assistance. Minn. Stat. § 518.64, subd. 2(a)(3) (Supp. 1997). It is undisputed that Glynn was receiving medical assistance from the county for A.G. The district court did not abuse its discretion in ordering Stevens to pay medical support of $50 per month or half the cost of the premiums for any private insurance Glynn obtains or to obtain his own medical and dental insurance for A.G.
III. Attorney Fees
The decision to award attorney fees is within the discretion of the district court. Solon v. Solon, 255 N.W.2d 395, 397 (Minn. 1977).
Stevens asserts the district court erred in denying his request for attorney fees and costs, claiming that he was required to incur unnecessary expense because the county filed a motion after being advised that the parties were proceeding pursuant to a stipulation. On appeal, Stevens cites Minn. Stat. § 549.21 (1996) (providing that district court may award attorney fees for frivolous or harassing action) and Minn. Stat. § 15.472 (1996) (providing that district court may award attorney fees if state takes position not substantially justified). Because the applicability of these statutes was not presented to or decided by the district court, we will not consider the issue on appeal. See Thiele v. Stich, 425 N.W.2d 580, 582 (Minn. 1988) (holding that issues not presented to or decided by district court may not be raised on appeal). In any event, the county proceeded under its statutory authority to recover unpaid court-ordered child support. The district court did not abuse its discretion in denying attorney fees.
Stevens asks for attorney fees and costs on appeal, again claiming he was required to incur unnecessary expense. We deny Stevens's request for attorney fees for this appeal.
IV. Motion to Strike
Stevens moves to strike certain documents from the county's appendix and references to those documents in its brief because they are not part of the district court record.
The papers filed in the trial court, the exhibits, and the transcript of the proceedings, if any, shall constitute the record on appeal in all cases.
Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 110.01.
The documents in question are letters and attachments to them from Stevens's attorney to Glynn and to a child support officer. Included as an attachment to the letter to Glynn is a copy of Glynn's letter agreeing to reduce child support, which is separately part of the district court record. The remaining documents were not filed with the district court.
Except for the copy of Glynn's letter agreeing to reduce child support, we grant Stevens's motion to strike. The remaining documents in the county's appendix, which were not filed with the district court, and all references to these documents are stricken and have not been considered.
Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded; motion granted in part.
[ ]* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.