In the Matter of the Custody of M.J.H.
Danielle Marie Healey, Appellant. Eric John Christensen, Respondent,
of Appellate Courts Court of Appeals
Michael P. Boulette, Barnes & Thornburg LLP, Minneapolis,
Minnesota, for respondent.
Charles H. Thomas, Southern Minnesota Regional Legal
Services, Inc., Saint Paul, Minnesota; and Julia Craig,
Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services, Inc., Mankato,
Minnesota, for appellant.
Henschel, Henschel Moberg Goff, P.A., Minneapolis, Minnesota;
and David L. Olson, Edina, Minnesota, for amicus curiae
Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial
J. Runchey, Runchey, Louwagie & Wellman, Marshall,
Minnesota; Mary Catherine Lauhead, Law Offices of Mary
Catherine Lauhead, Saint Paul, Minnesota; and Michael D.
Dittberner, Linder, Dittberner, Bryant & Winter, Ltd.,
Edina, Minnesota, for amicus curiae Family Law Section of the
Minnesota State Bar Association.
determining whether a motion to modify parenting time is a de
facto motion to modify physical custody for purposes of
deciding whether the endangerment standard in Minn. Stat.
§ 518.18(d)(iv) (2016) applies, a court should consider
the totality of the circumstances to determine whether the
proposed modification is a substantial change that would
modify the parties' custody arrangement.
Respondent's motion is a de facto motion to modify
physical custody; therefore, the endangerment standard in
Minn. Stat. § 518.18(d)(iv) (2016) applies to his
issue before us is whether the best-interests-of-the-child
standard in Minn. Stat. § 518.175, subd. 5(b) (2016), or
the endangerment standard in Minn. Stat. § 518.18(d)(iv)
(2016), applies to the motion of respondent Eric John
Christensen to increase his parenting time to every other
week. Christensen and appellant Danielle Marie Healey are the
parents of a minor child. The parties stipulated to an
initial order that granted Healey sole physical custody,
subject to Christensen's parenting time. Several years
later, the parties agreed to assign the child's primary
residence to Healey and to increase Christensen's
parenting time. During the school year, Christensen had
parenting time every other weekend, and during the summer
months, the parties alternated weeks with the child. In 2016,
Christensen brought a motion to expand the alternating week
schedule to the entire year. The district court determined
that Christensen's motion was a motion to modify physical
custody, and that the modification would change the
child's primary residence. Accordingly, the district
court applied the endangerment standard in Minn. Stat. §
518.18(d)(iv). Because the district court found that
Christensen did not present a prima facie case of
endangerment, the court denied his motion.
court of appeals reversed, holding that Christensen's
motion was not a motion to modify custody and that the
proposed modification would not change the child's
primary residence based merely on the percentage of parenting
time requested. Because we conclude that Christensen's
proposed modification is a de facto motion to modify physical
custody, and therefore the endangerment standard applies, we
and Christensen are the parents of a minor child who was born
in 2010. The parties were never married but Christensen was
adjudicated as the biological father. Healey lives in
Minnesota and Christensen lives approximately an hour away in
Iowa. In 2011, a stipulated order granted joint legal custody
to both parties and sole physical ...