Sherburne County District Court File No. 71FA12176
James W. Hess, Katie M. Jendro, Hess Law Office, P.A., Elk River, Minnesota (for respondent)
Timothy A. O'Brien, O'Brien Law Firm, P.C., Minneapolis, Minnesota (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Hudson, Presiding Judge; Ross, Judge; and Stauber, Judge.
Appellant-mother Danielle Christine Orlich appeals the district court's denial of her motion to dismiss respondent-father Justin Thomas Skyberg's paternity and custody suit, arguing that the district court lacked jurisdiction. Because the child was conceived in Minnesota, and because the Iowa court having jurisdiction over the custody claim declined to exercise it, we affirm.
Mother, who is originally from Des Moines, Iowa, moved into father's Elk River home at the beginning of May 2011, lived with him for five months, and was employed in the area. The child was conceived during their cohabitation, and mother does not dispute father's paternity. In September 2011, mother returned to Des Moines. The child was born there in May 2012. Mother and child now reside in Des Moines. Father continues to reside in Elk River.
In March 2012, before the child was born, father initiated a paternity and custody suit in Sherburne County, serving a summons and complaint on mother at her Des Moines residence. Mother then filed a similar suit in Polk County, Iowa, but did not disclose to the Iowa court that she had already been served in the Minnesota action. Father moved to dismiss the Iowa action, and mother responded with a motion to dismiss the Minnesota action. The Iowa court conferred with the Minnesota court and, citing provisions of Iowa's version of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), declined to exercise jurisdiction and granted father's motion to dismiss. The Minnesota court, applying Minnesota's version of the UCCJEA while noting that the Iowa court had declined to exercise jurisdiction, determined that it had jurisdiction over mother and denied her motion to dismiss. Mother appeals.
"Whether personal jurisdiction exists is a question of law, which we review de novo." Wick v. Wick, 670 N.W.2d 599, 603 (Minn.App. 2003). "Application of the [UCCJEA] involves questions of subject matter jurisdiction." Schroeder v. Schroeder, 658 N.W.2d 909, 911 (Minn.App. 2003). This court reviews questions of subject-matter jurisdiction de novo. Johnson v. Murray, 648 N.W.2d 664, 670 (Minn. 2002); Burkstrand v. Burkstrand, 632 N.W.2d 206, 209 (Minn. 2001).
With regard to the parentage claim, mother does not dispute father's paternity, but she argues that the district court lacked personal jurisdiction over her because she did not have the necessary minimum contacts with Minnesota to make the exercise of jurisdiction by the Minnesota courts consistent with "traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice." See Juelich v. Yamazaki Mazak Optonics Corp., 682 N.W.2d 565, 570 (Minn. 2004).
Personal jurisdiction over a parentage-suit defendant may be established by operation of the long-arm statute or by "any [other] method provided by rule or statute." Minn. Stat. § 257.59, subd. 2 (2012). Minn. Stat. § 518C.201 (2012) provides for "extended personal jurisdiction" in parentage cases, stating that "[i]n a proceeding to . . . determine parentage, a tribunal of this state may exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident individual . . . if . . . the individual engaged in sexual intercourse in this state and the child may have been conceived by that act of intercourse." We find section 518C.201 dispositive. The district court had ...