of Appellate Courts Court of Appeals
B. James, Law Office of Thomas B. James, Cokato, Minnesota,
Suzanne C. Todnem, Saint Paul, Minnesota, pro se.
Field, Field Law, P.A., Ramsey, Minnesota, for amicus curiae
Center for Parental Responsibility.
District courts are not required to make specific, detailed
findings on each of the best-interest factors listed in Minn.
Stat. § 518.17, subd. 1(a) (2016), when considering
requests to modify parenting time under Minn. Stat. §
518.175, subd. 8 (2016).
district court did not abuse its discretion in denying
appellant's request for additional child-care parenting
and decided by the court without oral argument.
Birch Hansen ("Hansen") and respondent Suzanne
Todnem ("Todnem") established a parenting plan for
their son, K.T., on July 24, 2015. On August 3, 2015, Hansen
moved in the Ramsey County District Court for additional
parenting time to provide before- and after-school child care
for K.T. while Todnem was working. The district court denied
Hansen's request on the ground that it was not in
K.T.'s best interests. Hansen appealed, arguing that the
district court failed to make detailed and specific findings
on each of the factors listed in Minn. Stat. § 518.17,
subd. 1(a) (2016) ("the best-interest factors"),
and relied on improper factors to assess K.T.'s best
interests. The court of appeals affirmed, holding that
Hansen's request for child-care parenting time was an
"insubstantial" modification and thus did not
require detailed and specific findings on every best-interest
factor. We affirm the court of appeals, though on different
parties in this case were in a romantic relationship for
roughly 5 years, but never married. On September 1, 2010, the
parties had their son, K.T. Shortly after K.T.'s birth,
Todnem ended the relationship.
mediation with a parenting consultant, the parties
established a parenting time schedule that gave Hansen
parenting time on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Fridays, as well as
three overnights at his home and four co-parenting overnights
at Todnem's home every 2 weeks. On February 2, 2014,
however, Todnem informed Hansen that he was no longer welcome
in her home for co-parenting overnights. Instead, Todnem
offered Hansen a fourth overnight at his home with K.T. every
2 weeks. Hansen petitioned the Ramsey County Family Court for
joint custody and equal parenting time on February 5, 2014.
parties stipulated to joint legal and physical custody with
equal parenting time on March 18, 2015. After 4 months of
negotiation with multiple mediators, the parties submitted a
written parenting plan for the court's approval. The
district court approved the parenting plan on July 24, 2015.
Only 10 days later, Hansen moved for additional parenting
time to provide child care for K.T. before and after school
on Todnem's parenting days. Todnem opposed this motion,
preferring to use K.T.'s school's child-care program,
the Discovery Club, for before- and after-school care.
district court denied Hansen's request. Finding that
Hansen had not explained why he did not seek child-care
parenting time during 4 months of mediation, the district
court expressed concern that Hansen was trying to "end
run" the parenting time agreement. Moreover, the
district court concluded that Hansen's proposal was not
in K.T.'s best interests, finding that the proposed
arrangement would continue ongoing conflict between Hansen
and Todnem, increase the number of transitions for K.T., and
deprive K.T. of a predictable schedule if Hansen was ever
unavailable to provide before- or after-school care.
appeal, Hansen argued that the district court's decision
was based on irrelevant or repealed factors, and that the
district court erred by failing to make detailed findings on
the newly amended best-interest factors listed in Minn. Stat.
§ 518.17, subd. 1(a) (2016). Relying on Funari v.
Funari, 388 N.W.2d 751 (Minn.App. 1986), the court of
appeals held that "[m]ere clarifications" and
"insubstantial modifications" of parenting time
fell entirely within the discretion of the district court and
did not need to be supported by specific findings. Hansen
v. Todnem, 891 N.W.2d 51, 58 (Minn.App. 2017) (citation
omitted) (internal quotation marks omitted). The court of
appeals acknowledged the 2015 amendment to Minn. Stat. §
518.17 (2016), but held that the amendment did not abrogate
the common-law distinction between substantial and
insubstantial parenting-time modifications. Id.