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Marriage of Gerber v. Gerber

April 12, 2005

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF: DARLENE GERBER, PETITIONER, RESPONDENT,
v.
JOHN TRUMAN GERBER, APPELLANT, AND COUNTY OF ANOKA, INTERVENOR, RESPONDENT.



Anoka County District Court File No. F48112951.

Considered and decided by Willis, Presiding Judge; Stoneburner, Judge; and Poritsky, Judge.*fn1

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

Wage withholding to collect child-support arrearages is a judicial remedy subject to the ten-year statute of limitations under Minn. Stat. § 541.04 (2004).

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Stoneburner, Judge

Reversed

OPINION

Appellant John Truman Gerber challenges the child-support magistrate's decision that Anoka County may continue to use wage withholding to collect child-support arrearages under an expired judgment. Because wage withholding is a remedy dependent on a valid judgment of the court, we conclude that it is a judicial remedy, and Minn. Stat. § 541.04 (2004), bars application of wage withholding to an expired judgment.

FACTS

A dissolution judgment entered February 12, 1982, dissolved the marriage of appellant and respondent Darlene Gerber. The judgment required appellant to pay child support in the amount of $900 per month for support of the parties' five children and further required appellant's employer to withhold child support from appellant's wages and forward the amount directly to respondent Anoka County Social Services, which in turn, was required to forward the child support to respondent Darlene Gerber.

The parties' youngest child was emancipated in 1993. By judgment entered September 13, 1993, Darlene Gerber was awarded $94,850 for unpaid child support. This judgment was never renewed. In May 2004, appellant moved to terminate wage withholding and for reimbursement for amounts collected after September 13, 2003, on the ground that the September 13, 1993 judgment expired and was unenforceable after September 13, 2003.*fn2 Respondent Anoka County intervened and opposed the motion to terminate wage withholding. A child-support magistrate heard the motion and found that appellant's ongoing child-support obligation terminated when the youngest child was emancipated on June 20, 1993. The CSM also found that respondent obtained a judgment for child-support arrearages on September 13, 1993, which expired on September 13, 2003, and was not renewed. But the CSM concluded that wage withholding "is an administrative remedy, not a judicial remedy, that remains in place regardless of the date of the entry of the Judgment and Decree." This appeal followed.

ISSUE

Does the remedy of wage withholding to collect child support or child-support arrearages survive the expiration of the judgment establishing the support obligation or arrearages?

ANALYSIS

I. Standard of ...


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