Crow Wing County District Court File No. F5-00-0001
Considered and decided by Harten, Presiding Judge; Peterson, Judge; and
In a IV-D case where there has not been an assignment of support, and the public authority has not made a motion to intervene as required by Minn. Stat. § 518.551, subd.á9á(b) (2002), and Minn. R. Civ. P. 24.01, the public authority does not have standing to bring a motion to modify child support, and a child-support magistrate does not have jurisdiction to hear the motion.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hudson, Judge
Reversed in part and vacated in part
This is an appeal from an order modifying child support. At the request of respondent Susan Kilpatrick, Crow Wing County moved to increase the child-support obligation of appellant Michael Kilpatrick, and the child-support magistrate granted that motion. On appeal from the district court's order affirming the child-support magistrate's order, appellant, Michael Kilpatrick, argues to this court that the child-support magistrate erred in increasing his support obligation. Because Crow Wing County did not have standing to move to modify child support, the child-support magistrate did not have jurisdiction to hear the motion. Accordingly, we reverse the district court's order affirming the child-support magistrate's ruling and vacate the child-support magistrate's award.
On May 30, 1981, appellant-father, Michael Kilpatrick, and respondent-mother, Susan Kilpatrick, married. The parties have two children, ages 18 and 14. The parties divorced on February 22, 2001. A Marital Termination Agreement was incorporated into the Judgment and Decree, and provided that father pay a specific dollar amount—$1,012.89—each month for child support. The parties, however, recognized that father derives some of his income from bonuses based on sales performance and included a provision that father would pay mother 30% of his net quarterly bonuses as additional child support. The parties agree that father has fully complied with the stipulated judgment and has made all the requisite child-support payments.
On November 18, 2002, and at mother's request, Crow Wing County, without making a motion to intervene or otherwise being joined as a party to the dissolution, brought a motion to modify the child-support order. Crow Wing County requested the child-support obligation be modified because part of the obligation was expressed as a percentage; it contended that the percentage formula did not work well with the county's computerized child-support payment recordation system. Crow Wing County argued the quarterly bonus payment should be averaged into the flat monthly child-support obligation.
The county's motion was heard before a child-support magistrate (CSM). Both parties were present at the hearing, and neither was represented by counsel. An assistant county attorney appeared on behalf of the county. The CSM averaged father's annual income, including his quarterly bonuses, for the previous four years. The CSM noted that the quarterly-bonuses portion of the original child-support order "is difficult to enforce," and modified father's child-support obligation and set it at $2,025 per month.
Father moved for review by the district court. The district court addressed the merits of the CSM's ruling and affirmed that ruling. Father filed a notice of appeal on May 19, 2003. This appeal follows.*fn1
Did Crow Wing County have standing to move to modify ...