may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Paula Jones, petitioner,
Alphonso Carlos Jones,
File No. 226112
A. Larry Katz, Elizabeth B. Bowling, Katz & Manka, Ltd., 4150 U.S. Bank Place, 601 Second Avenue, S., Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for appellant)
George C. Riggs, George C. Riggs & Associates, P.A., 888 Highway 10 N.E., Blaine, MN 55434 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Schumacher, Presiding Judge, Short, Judge, and Davies, Judge.
This family court action arises from issues raised in a civil suit filed by Alphonso Carlos Jones against his employer. Jones filed that civil action to enjoin his employer from acting pursuant to a Missouri default dissolution decree. At Jones's request, the court held part of that decree void and unenforceable for lack of jurisdiction. Following this action by Jones, his former spouse filed a separate lawsuit in Minnesota family court to enforce the Missouri decree, or in the alternative, to hold a hearing on financial issues, custody, and visitation. Jones appeals the family court's order setting trial in Minnesota on issues arising from the Missouri default dissolution. On appeal, Jones argues the trial court erred in: (1) permitting a trial on certain issues arising under the decree; and (2) denying his request for sanctions. We affirm.
We review questions of statutory interpretation and jurisdiction de novo. V.H. v. Estate of Birnbaum, 543 N.W.2d 649, 653 (Minn. 1996) (jurisdictional disputes); Hibbing Educ. Ass'n v. Public Employment Relations Bd., 369 N.W.2d 527, 529 (Minn. 1985) (statutory interpretation). We will not reverse a trial court's decision on sanctions absent an abuse of discretion. Uselman v. Uselman, 464 N.W.2d 130, 140-45 (Minn. 1990) (applying abuse of discretion standard to sanctions imposed under Minn. Stat. § 549.21, subd. 2 and Minn. R. Civ. P. 11); see also Minn. Stat. § 549.211 (Minn. Supp. 1997) (enumerating statutory requirements for imposition of sanctions).
Under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA), the petitioner can assert "long-arm" jurisdiction over a nonresident respondent for "purposes of establishing a support order or determining parentage." Interstate Family Support Act (1996) § 201 cmt., 9 U.L.A. 345 (Supp. 1998); see generally Minn. Stat. §§ 518C.101-.902 (1996) (providing UIFSA text adopted by Minnesota legislature). Despite the UIFSA's ability to exert "long-arm" jurisdiction over a respondent, a petitioner may choose to file suit in the respondent's state of residence without implicating the UIFSA. Unif. Interstate Family Support Act (1996) § 201 cmt., 9 U.L.A. 345. The UIFSA awards "continuing, exclusive jurisdiction over a spousal support order throughout the existence of the support obligation" to the state tribunal that issues a support order "consistent with the laws" of that state. Minn. Stat. § 518C.205(f). Remedies under the UIFSA are cumulative and will not affect availability of remedes under other law. Minn. Stat. § 518C.103.
The record demonstrates: (1) Jones and his former spouse married and lived in Missouri for only 2 years, and spent the remaining 15 years of their marriage in Minnesota; (2) Jones, along with the couple's minor child, continues to reside in Minnesota, while his former spouse resides in Missouri; (3) Missouri issued a default dissolution decree, and divided property not located in Missouri; (4) Jones's Minnesota civil suit against his employer successfully voided part of the Missouri default decree; and (5) Jones's former spouse commenced an action in Minnesota family court to resolve previously unresolved financial and custody issues, and other issues arising under the voided part of the decree.
On these facts, Jones argues the trial court erred in exercising jurisdiction over issues arising from the dissolution because such an action violates the "continuing, exclusive jurisdiction" of Missouri courts under the UIFSA. See Minn. Stat. § 518C.205(f) (providing "issuing tribunal" with "continuing, exclusive jurisdiction" over spousal support order). We disagree. Because Jones's former spouse brought the action in Minnesota, Jones's state of residency, the UIFSA is inapplicable to these facts. Given Jones's residency in Minnesota and the location of the disputed property in the state, the trial court did not err in its exercise of jurisdiction. Moreover, even if the UIFSA were applicable, Missouri does not have "continuing, exclusive jurisdiction" over the unresolved issues and the voided part of the decree because its original
order was entered without jurisdiction over Jones. Without proper jurisdiction, the voided part of the default decree was not "consistent" with Missouri law, thus failing to satisfy the statutory requirements for "continuing, exclusive jurisdiction." See id. (enumerating requirements for court to maintain "continuing, exclusive jurisdiction" over support order for existence of obligation); see also Minn. Stat. § 645.08(1) (1996) (stating words and phrases construed according to common and approved usage); cf. Mahoney v. Mahoney, 433 N.W.2d 115, 117-20 (Minn. App. 1988) (affirming trial court where trial court found (1) it had in rem jurisdiction over marital relationship and dissolved that relationship, and it had no personal jurisdiction over husband (2) residing in Alabama and refused to render judgment regarding maintenance, property settlement, or attorney fees), review denied (Minn. Feb. 10, 1989). Furthermore, Jones's interpretation of the UIFSA is without merit because it would forever thwart his former spouse's ability to resolve financial issues arising from the dissolution. See Minn. Stat. § 645.17(1) (1996) (stating courts may presume legislature does not intend absurd result).
Based on our resolution of the jurisdictional issue, we need not address Jones's request for sanctions. Jones's former spouse also requests fees and costs to defend against this appeal. Because there has been no showing of bad faith or inability to pay, we decline to award any fees or costs on appeal. See Emerick ex rel. Howley v. Sanchez, 547 N.W.2d 109, 113 (Minn. App. 1996) (concluding award of attorney fees proper where party acted solely for purpose of harassment or attorney fees necessary to enable party to carry on or contest proceeding).