This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Andrew Mark Erickson, petitioner,
Ann Camille Seebach Erickson,
Filed December 21, 1999
Olmsted County District Court
File No. F4972087
Steven C. Youngquist, Youngquist Law Office, 421 First Avenue S.W., Suite 301W, Rochester, MN 55902 (for appellant)
Suzanne M. Remington, Robert N. Schlesinger, P.A., 700 St. Paul Building, Six West Fifth Street, St. Paul, MN 55102 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Toussaint, Chief Judge, Shumaker, Judge, and Foley, Judge.[*]
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Appellant-father Andrew Mark Erickson contends that the district court erred by permitting respondent-mother Ann Camille Seebach Erickson to change the minor children's school district. We affirm.
In 1997, father and mother stipulated to the dissolution of their marriage and to an award of joint legal and joint physical custody of their two minor daughters. They constructed, and later modified, a schedule of time each would spend with the children. Under the current schedule, the children reside with father every Thursday and Friday and alternating Saturdays. Father picks up the children after he finishes work on Thursday, takes them to school on Friday, and picks them up after school on Friday.
Father and mother also stipulated that:
The parties shall continue to reside in the Stewartville school district for the present time. Neither party shall unilaterally change the children's school district. Should either party move from the school district, they will meet to determine the appropriate school district for the children's attendance and to resolve any scheduling problems which might arise from such a move.
In 1999, mother planned to remarry and to move to Eyota, 20 miles from Stewartville. She brought a motion for an order permitting her to change the children's school district from Stewartville to Dover-Eyota. Father opposed the motion.
The district court granted the motion, finding that the quality of education available in both districts is essentially equal; if the change were not allowed, school travel time would increase by at least one hour each day the children resided with mother; and the children would not be endangered by a change of school districts.
Contending that the district court's order is not supported by the facts, father appealed.
D E C I S I O N
This court will not reverse a custody determination unless the trial court abused its discretion by making findings unsupported by the evidence or by improperly applying the law. Pikula v Pikula, 374 N.W.2d 705, 710 (Minn. 1985). (See Minn. Stat. § 518.003 (1998), subds. (a) and (b) defining "legal custody" and "joint legal custody" as including decisions regarding a child’s education).
[W]here joint legal custodians disagree on the choice of schooling for their child, the trial court must resolve the dispute consistent with the child's best interests.
Novak v. Novak, 446 N.W.2d 422, 423 (Minn. App. 1989), review denied (Minn. Dec. 1, 1989).
Father relies on Lutzi v. Lutzi, 485 N.W.2d 311 (Minn. App. 1992), in urging that the district court erred in granting mother's motion. That case is inapposite.
In Lutzi, the mother had sole physical custody of the children but the dissolution decree provided that each party would spend alternating weeks and alternating holidays with the children. The mother decided to move her residence and to change the children's school district. She sought an order modifying the shared custody arrangement so as to give her custody during the entire school year. The court of appeals viewed such a modification as substantial, to which the endangerment standard would apply. Id. at 315.
Here, mother does not seek a modification of physical, and none will occur if the children change school districts. The record shows that mother lives three blocks from the elementary school the children would attend. Four days each week, the children would travel this distance to attend school. If they remained in the Stewartville district, for three days each week they would spend up to an hour travel time and up to half an hour on the fourth day. The children's wake-up schedules would have to be altered; they would face the inevitable delays and obstructions of the Minnesota winter; and they would be exposed to more frequent risks of motor vehicle accidents. We cannot say that the district court clearly erred in finding that the school district change to Dover-Eyota would obviate these concerns, and would serve the children's best interests. See Minn. R. Civ. P. 52.01 (findings of fact not to be set aside unless clearly erroneous).
Affirmed.[*] Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.