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In re Marriage of Crowley

Supreme Court of Minnesota

June 28, 2017

In re the Marriage of: Robert Peter Crowley, Respondent,
v.
Bridget Marie Meyer, Appellant.

         Court of Appeals Office of Appellate Courts

          Steven M. Dittrich, Dittrich & Lawrence, P.A., Rochester, for respondent.

          Kay Nord Hunt, Lommen Abdo, P.A., Susan M. Gallagher, Gallagher Law Office, L.L.C., and Scott Wilson, for appellant.

         SYLLABUS

         1. The district court's order modifying the child custody provision contained in the judgment and decree of dissolution was appealable.

         2. The district court modified the child custody provision contained in the judgment and decree of dissolution without complying with the requirements of Minn. Stat. § 518.18 (2016).

         Reversed and remanded.

          OPINION

          LILLEHAUG, Justice.

         After dissolving their marriage, appellant Bridget Meyer and respondent Robert Crowley agreed to share joint legal and physical custody of their children. Their agreement was reflected in a 2012 judgment and decree. In 2013, the district court issued a series of orders granting Crowley "temporary" sole physical custody of the children. More than a year later, Meyer moved to "reinstate" joint custody, but the district court denied her motion in a March 2015 order.

         Meyer appealed the March 2015 order. The court of appeals determined that it had appellate jurisdiction and affirmed the order. Crowley v. Meyer, A15-1471, 2016 WL 5888693 (Minn.App. Oct. 11, 2016).

         We conclude that the March 2015 order, though appealable, erroneously modified custody without complying with the requirements of Minn. Stat. § 518.18 (2016). Thus, we reverse the decision of the court of appeals and remand to the district court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

         FACTS

         Bridget Meyer and Robert Crowley married in 1992 and had two children, now ages 17 and 11. Crowley petitioned to dissolve the marriage in 2009. Before dissolving the marriage, the parties stipulated to the appointment of a parenting time expeditor.[1] In 2011, the district court dissolved the marriage. In 2012, the court issued a Bifurcated Judgment and Decree as to Custody and Parenting Time, adopting the parties' agreement that they would share joint legal custody of the children and joint physical custody by alternating weeks.

         The joint physical custody arrangement did not survive for long. On February 27, 2013, Crowley moved for an emergency order granting him immediate temporary sole physical custody of the children. Two weeks later, the district court granted Crowley's motion, ...


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