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In re Marriage of Tornstrom

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

November 21, 2016

In re the Marriage of: Thomas Erle Tornstrom, petitioner, Respondent,
v.
Jennifer Lynn Tornstrom, n/k/a Jennifer Lynn Klemenhagen, Appellant.

         Houston County District Court File No. 28-FA-14-911.

         Affirmed

          Joan K. Parke, Laura J. Seaton, Bosshard Parke, Ltd., La Crosse, Wisconsin (for respondent)

          Amber Lawrence, Dittrich & Lawrence, P.A., Rochester, Minnesota (for appellant)

          Considered and decided by Kirk, Presiding Judge; Schellhas, Judge; and Bjorkman, Judge.

         SYLLABUS

         1. A husband and wife consent to a mediated settlement agreement under Minn. Stat. § 518.619, subd. 7 (2014), and agree that it will be submitted to and enforced by the district court before it is reduced to a signed marital-termination agreement (MTA) by orally recording the terms of the settlement and acknowledging their intent to form a binding agreement.

          2. The terms of a mediated settlement agreement may be incorporated into a dissolution judgment and decree and enforced by the district court where the parties had a meeting of the minds on its essential terms and the agreement was supported by consideration.

          OPINION

          KIRK, Judge

         Appealing the marital-dissolution judgment, appellant-wife challenges the terms of a mediated settlement agreement incorporated into the judgment and decree and enforced by the district court. Wife argues that the judgment is invalid because: (1) the mediated settlement agreement was not reduced to an MTA that was signed by both parties before it was presented to the district court, and (2) the settlement is not an enforceable agreement. Because the parties orally recorded their agreement to the terms of the settlement, acknowledged their intent to form a binding agreement, and the settlement is supported by consideration, we affirm.

         FACTS

         In October 2014, respondent-husband Thomas Erle Tornstrom petitioned for dissolution of his marriage to appellant-wife Jennifer Lynn Tornstrom. At the time the petition was filed, the parties had two minor children.

         In February 2015, the district court filed temporary orders granting the parties joint legal and joint physical custody and ordering husband to pay wife temporary spousal maintenance and child support. It also ordered the parties to undergo a custody evaluation. Five months later, the custody evaluator submitted his evaluation to the district court. The custody evaluation recommended that husband be awarded sole legal custody and sole physical custody of the children, subject to wife's reasonable parenting time.

         On September 25, 2015, the parties, along with counsel, met with a mediator. After eight hours, the parties reached a global settlement. The parties orally confirmed the terms of their agreement, which the mediator tape recorded. The parties agreed that husband would have sole legal and sole physical custody of the children, and wife would have parenting time two weeknights after school and every other weekend. During the summer, wife would parent the children for alternating three-day weekends, overnight every Wednesday, and for three non-consecutive weeks. The parties agreed that wife would not pay husband child support and that husband would not pay wife spousal maintenance.

         The parties also agreed to a property settlement where wife was awarded sole ownership of her 403(b) plan and a portion of husband's 401K. Husband was awarded the marital homestead and agreed to pay wife an additional property settlement. The parties agreed ...


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