Articles Posted in Minnesota Supreme Court

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The deadline for an appeal in a juvenile protection proceeding is based on the district court’s service of notice by mail. In this case, because the appeal was filed by that deadline, the court of appeals erred in dismissing the appeal as untimely. Here, the district court terminated L.A.’s parental rights after allegations were made that L.A. was in need of protection or services. L.A. filed a notice of appeal. The court of appeals dismissed the appeal as untimely. The Supreme Court vacated the opinion of the court of appeals, holding that L.A.'s appeal was timely filed because nothing in the plain language of the rules told him that he could not rely on the service upon him by mail when calculating the deadline for filing his appeal. View "In re Welfare of Child of R.K." on Justia Law

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The district court’s denial of Mother’s motion to “reinstate” joint custody of the parties’ children, though appealable, erroneously modified custody without complying with the requirements of Minn. Stat. 518.18. After dissolving their marriage, Mother and Father agreed to share joint legal and physical custody of their two children. The district court adopted the parties’ agreement. Thereafter, the district court issued a series of orders granting Father temporary sole custody of the children. When the parties did not resume joint physical custody more than one year later, Mother moved to reinstate joint custody. The district court denied the motion. The court of appeals affirmed the district court’s order. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court erred when it modified the custody arrangement established by the judgment and decree. The court remanded the case to reinstate the original custody order or, upon a motion to modify, for an evidentiary hearing. View "Crowley v. Meyer" on Justia Law

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In 2012, Wife filed a petition to dissolve her marriage to Husband. The court approved the parties’ stipulation and entered partial final judgment dissolving the marriage. The stipulation, however, did not address Wife’s request for spousal maintenance. After a trial on the issue, the district court declined to award maintenance to Wife, determining that Wife could reallocate the investment assets equitably distributed to her in the property settlement to produce sufficient income to meet her reasonable monthly expenses. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding (1) the district court did not abuse its discretion in taking into account the income-earning potential of the assets that Wife received in the equitable distribution of marital property; but (2) under the circumstances, the district court’s obligation to consider the tax consequences of the reallocation required remand. View "Curtis v. Curtis" on Justia Law

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After Gordon Brown’s debt to Citizens State Bank Norwood Young America (Bank) became delinquent, Gordon petitioned to dissolve his twenty-three-year marriage to Judy Brown. The Browns executed a marital termination agreement that was incorporated into the marital dissolution decree. Pursuant to the dissolution judgment and decree, Gordon transferred to Judy several assets. When it was unable to collect from Gordon on the original judgment, the Bank brought this action under Minnesota’s Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act (MUFTA) to levy execution on the assets Gordon transferred to Judy, alleging that the transfers were made with the intent to defraud the Bank. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Bank, determining that the transfers were voidable under MUFTA. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s judgment granting the Bank authority to levy execution on assets fraudulently transferred to the extent necessary to satisfy the Bank’s claim, holding that MUFTA applies to transfers made pursuant to an uncontested marital dissolution decree. View "Citizens State Bank Norwood Young Am. v. Brown" on Justia Law

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James Bergstrom and Vanessa Rew dissolved their marriage in 2008. In 2002, 2007, and 2008, Rew obtained a series of one-year orders for protection (OFPs) against Bergstrom. In 2010, before the extended expiration date of the 2008 OFP, Rew filed an application under Minn. Stat. 518B.01(6)(a) to extend the terms of the 2008 OFP. After an evidentiary hearing, the district court extended the OFP for up to fifty years in favor of Rew and the couple’s minor children. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) section 518B.01(6)(a) does not require a finding of domestic abuse before a district court may extend the duration of an OFP; (2) the extension of an OFP under section 518B.01(6)(a) does not facially violate the First Amendment to the United States Constitution or Minn. Const. art. I, 3; (3) the record was insufficient to conclude that the extended OFP was constitutional with respect to Bergstrom’s children; and (4) the extension of an OFP for up to fifty years does not implicate the prohibition against double jeopardy or the Ex Post Facto Clause of either the United States of Minnesota Constitutions. Remanded. View "In re Rew" on Justia Law

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Appellant was convicted of felony-level failure to provide care and support to his children due to his omission and failure to pay court-ordered child support. The court of appeals affirmed the conviction, concluding (1) the phrase “care and support” in Minn. Stat. 609.375(1) refers exclusively to a person’s financial obligations to a spouse or child; and (2) the district court did not err when it excluded Appellant’s evidence that he had provided nonmonetary care to his children. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) to obtain a conviction under section 609.375(1) the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant knowingly omitted and failed to provide both care and support to a spouse or child; and (2) the State did not present any evidence that Appellant knowingly omitted and failed to provide care to his children, and therefore, insufficient evidence supported Appellant’s conviction under the care-and-support statute. View "State v. Nelson" on Justia Law

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The grandparent visitation statute allows a court to award visitation as part of several different kinds of proceedings, including a proceeding for parentage. The district court awarded grandparent visitation to the paternal grandmother (Grandmother) of T.H. after concluding that the recognition of parentage executed by T.H.'s parents pursuant to Minn. Stat. 257.75 was a "proceeding" for parentage under the grandparent visitation statute. The court of appeals affirmed. T.H.'s mother appealed, contending that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to award visitation to Grandmother. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) a recognition of parentage executed and filed with the appropriate state agency under section 257.75 is a "proceeding" for purposes of the grandparent visitation statute; and (2) therefore, a "proceeding" occurred in this case, and the district court had subject matter jurisdiction to award visitation to Grandmother. View "Christianson v. Henke" on Justia Law

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Father and Mother were divorced pursuant to a judgment and decree which provided that Father pay child support to Mother. Father later moved to modify his child-support obligation, arguing that certain distributions paid to Mother as a shareholder of a closely-held subchapter S corporation should be included in her gross income, as defined by Minn. Stat. 518A.29(a) and 518A.30 for the purpose of calculating the child-support amount. The district court granted the motion. The court of appeals reversed, determining that because the distributions either were not available to Mother or were designated to pay her income tax obligation, the distributions did not constitute gross income within the meaning of the statutes. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that gross income from a shareholder's interest in a closely-held subchapter S corporation must be calculated using the statutory formula in section 518A.30 and does not depend on the amount actually distributed or available to the parent shareholder. Remanded. View "Haefele v. Haefele" on Justia Law

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At the time of his divorce from Wife, Husband was a participant in a pension fund (Fund). To enforce the interest awarded to her under the decree, Wife needed to serve a domestic relations order (DRO) on the Fund and its administrators (collectively, the Plan) for qualification. Before Wife served any DRO on the Plan, Husband remarried. At the time of Husband's retirement, he made a survivor annuity payable to his current spouse upon his death. Wife eventually served a DRO on the Plan in 2005, but the Plan refused to qualify the DRO. After Husband died, Wife brought a motion to enforce the 2005 DRO. The district court ruled in favor of Wife, concluding (1) surviving spouse benefits do not vest in a plan participant's current spouse at the time of the plan participant's retirement; and (2) therefore, the 2005 DRO served on the Plan was a qualified domestic relations order. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) under ERISA, surviving spouse benefits vest in a plan participant's current spouse at the time of the plan participant's retirement; and (2) accordingly, the 2005 DRO in this case could not be qualified. View "Langston v. Wilson McShane Corp." on Justia Law

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Two children's foster parents filed a petition to adopt the children, as did the children's grandparents. The district court concluded that it was in the best interests of the children to be adopted by the foster parents and accordingly granted the foster parents' petition. The court then denied the adoption petition of the grandparents. The court of appeals affirmed. The grandparents appealed, contending that the district court erred in not according them preference and ignoring the plain language of Minn. Stat. 259.57(2)(c) by considering the grandparents' and the foster parents' petitions side-by-side. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court properly applied section 259.57(2)(c) and did not abuse its discretion in concluding that adoption by the foster parents was in the children's best interests. View "In re Petition to Adopt P.U.K." on Justia Law