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Minnesota Session Laws - 1996, Regular Session

Key: (1) language to be deleted (2) new language

  
    
KEY: stricken = old language to be removed
     underscored = new language to be added
    
                            CHAPTER 391-S.F.No. 1996 
                  An act relating to family law; requiring specificity 
                  in visitation orders; providing for enforcement of 
                  visitation orders; modifying provisions for visitation 
                  expeditors; providing for suspension of interest on 
                  child support arrearages in certain cases; imposing 
                  penalties; amending Minnesota Statutes 1994, sections 
                  518.175, subdivisions 1 and 6; 518.1751; 518.68, 
                  subdivisions 2 and 3; and 548.091, subdivision 1a; 
                  Minnesota Statutes 1995 Supplement, section 518.5512, 
                  by adding a subdivision; repealing Minnesota Statutes 
                  1994, section 518.175, subdivision 4. 
        BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA: 
                                   ARTICLE 1 
                                   VISITATION 
           Section 1.  Minnesota Statutes 1994, section 518.175, 
        subdivision 1, is amended to read: 
           Subdivision 1.  [GENERAL.] (a) In all proceedings for 
        dissolution or legal separation, subsequent to the commencement 
        of the proceeding and continuing thereafter during the minority 
        of the child, the court shall, upon the request of either 
        parent, grant such rights of visitation on behalf of the child 
        and noncustodial parent as will enable the child and the 
        noncustodial parent to maintain a child to parent relationship 
        that will be in the best interests of the child.  If the court 
        finds, after a hearing, that visitation is likely to endanger 
        the child's physical or emotional health or impair the child's 
        emotional development, the court shall restrict visitation by 
        the noncustodial parent as to time, place, duration, or 
        supervision and may deny visitation entirely, as the 
        circumstances warrant.  The court shall consider the age of the 
        child and the child's relationship with the noncustodial parent 
        prior to the commencement of the proceeding.  A parent's failure 
        to pay support because of the parent's inability to do so shall 
        not be sufficient cause for denial of visitation. 
           (b) The court may provide that a law enforcement officer or 
        other appropriate person will accompany a party seeking to 
        enforce or comply with visitation. 
           (c) Upon request of either party, to the extent practicable 
        a visitation order must include a specific schedule for 
        visitation, including the frequency and duration of visitation 
        and visitation during holidays and vacations, unless visitation 
        is restricted, denied, or reserved. 
           (d) The court administrator shall provide a form for a pro 
        se motion regarding visitation disputes, which includes 
        provisions for indicating the relief requested, an affidavit in 
        which the party may state the facts of the dispute, and a brief 
        description of the visitation expeditor process under section 
        518.1751.  The form may not include a request for a change of 
        custody.  The court shall provide instructions on serving and 
        filing the motion. 
           Sec. 2.  Minnesota Statutes 1994, section 518.175, 
        subdivision 6, is amended to read: 
           Subd. 6.  [COMPENSATORY VISITATION REMEDIES.] (a) The court 
        may provide for one or more of the following remedies for denial 
        of or interference with visitation as provided under this 
        subdivision.  All visitation orders must include notice of the 
        provisions of this subdivision. 
           (b) If the court finds that a person has been wrongfully 
        deprived of the duly established right to visitation, the court 
        shall order the custodial parent to permit additional visits to 
        compensate for the visitation of which the person was deprived.  
        Additional visits must be: 
           (1) of the same type and duration as the wrongfully denied 
        visit; 
           (2) taken within one year after the wrongfully denied 
        visit; and 
           (3) at a time acceptable to the person deprived of 
        visitation. 
           (c) If the court finds that a party has wrongfully failed 
        to comply with a visitation order or a binding agreement or 
        decision under section 518.1751, the court may: 
           (1) impose a civil penalty of up to $500 on the party; or 
           (2) require the party to post a bond with the court for a 
        specified period of time to secure the party's compliance. 
           A civil penalty imposed under this paragraph must be 
        deposited in the county general fund and must be used to fund 
        the costs of a visitation expeditor program in a county with 
        this program.  In other counties, the civil penalty must be 
        deposited in the state general fund. 
           (d) If the court finds that a party has been denied 
        visitation and has incurred expenses in connection with the 
        denied visitation, the court may require the party who denied 
        visitation to post a bond in favor of the other party in the 
        amount of prepaid expenses associated with an upcoming planned 
        visitation. 
           (e) Proof of an unwarranted denial of or interference with 
        duly established visitation may constitute contempt of court and 
        may be sufficient cause for reversal of custody. 
           Sec. 3.  Minnesota Statutes 1994, section 518.1751, is 
        amended to read: 
           518.1751 [VISITATION DISPUTE RESOLUTION.] 
           Subdivision 1.  [VISITATION EXPEDITOR.] (a) Upon agreement 
        request of all parties either party or upon the court's own 
        motion, the court may appoint a visitation expeditor to resolve 
        visitation disputes that occur under a visitation order while a 
        matter is pending under this chapter, chapter 257 or 518A, or 
        after a decree is entered.  Prior to appointing the visitation 
        expeditor, the court shall give the parties notice that the 
        costs of the visitation expeditor will be apportioned among the 
        parties and that if the parties do not reach an agreement, the 
        visitation expeditor will make a nonbinding decision resolving 
        the dispute. 
           (b) For purposes of this section, "visitation dispute" 
        means a disagreement among parties about visitation with a 
        child, including a dispute about an anticipated denial of a 
        future scheduled visit.  "Visitation dispute" includes a claim 
        by a custodial parent that a noncustodial parent is not visiting 
        a child as well as a claim by a noncustodial parent that a 
        custodial parent is denying or interfering with visitation. 
           Subd. 2.  [APPOINTMENT; COSTS.] The court shall appoint the 
        visitation expeditor and indicate the term of the appointment.  
        If the parties cannot agree on a visitation expeditor, the court 
        shall present a list of candidates with one more candidate than 
        there are parties to the dispute.  In developing the list of 
        candidates, the court must give preference to persons who agree 
        to volunteer their services or who will charge a variable fee 
        for services based on the ability of the parties to pay for 
        them.  Each party shall strike one name and the court shall 
        appoint the remaining individual as the visitation expeditor.  
        In its order appointing the visitation expeditor, the court 
        shall apportion the costs of the visitation expeditor among the 
        parties, with each party bearing the portion of costs that the 
        court determines is just and equitable under the circumstances.  
        If a party files a pro se motion regarding a visitation dispute 
        and there is not a court order that provides for apportionment 
        of the costs of an expeditor, the court administrator may 
        require the party requesting the appointment of an expeditor to 
        pay the costs of the expeditor in advance.  Neither party may be 
        required to submit a dispute to a visitation expeditor if the 
        party cannot afford to pay for the costs of an expeditor and an 
        affordable expeditor is not available, unless the other party 
        agrees to pay the costs.  After costs are incurred, a party may 
        by motion request that the costs be reapportioned on equitable 
        grounds.  The court may consider the resources of the parties, 
        the nature of the dispute, and whether a party acted in bad 
        faith.  The court may consider information from the expeditor in 
        determining bad faith. 
           Subd. 3.  [AGREEMENT OR DECISION.] (a) If a visitation 
        dispute arises, the visitation expeditor shall meet with the 
        parties together or separately within five days and make a 
        diligent effort to facilitate an agreement to resolve the 
        visitation dispute.  If a visitation dispute requires immediate 
        resolution, the visitation expeditor may confer with the parties 
        through a telephone conference or similar means.  An expeditor 
        may make a decision without conferring with a party if the 
        expeditor made a good faith effort to confer with the party, but 
        the party chose not to participate in resolution of the dispute. 
           (b) If the parties do not reach an agreement, the expeditor 
        shall make a decision resolving the dispute as soon as 
        possible but not later than five days after the final meeting or 
        conference with the parties.  Resolution of a dispute may 
        include compensatory visitation under section 518.175, 
        subdivision 6.  The visitation expeditor may not make a decision 
        that modifies visitation rights ordered by the court.  The 
        expeditor shall put an agreement or decision in writing, provide 
        a copy to the parties, and file a copy with the court.  If a 
        party does not comply with an agreement of the parties or a 
        decision of the expeditor, any party may bring a motion with the 
        court to resolve the dispute.  The court may consider the 
        agreement of the parties or the decision of the expeditor, but 
        neither is binding on the court. 
           Subd. 4.  [OTHER AGREEMENTS.] This section does not 
        preclude the parties from voluntarily agreeing to submit their 
        visitation dispute to a neutral third party or from otherwise 
        resolving visitation disputes on a voluntary basis. 
           Subd. 5.  [IMMUNITY.] A visitation expeditor is immune from 
        civil liability for actions taken or not taken when acting under 
        this section. 
           Subd. 6.  [MANDATORY VISITATION DISPUTE RESOLUTION.] (a) 
        Subject to subdivision 7, a judicial district may establish a 
        mandatory visitation dispute resolution program as provided in 
        this subdivision.  In a district where a program has been 
        established, parties may be required to submit visitation 
        disputes to a visitation expeditor as a prerequisite to a motion 
        on the dispute being heard by the court, or either party may 
        submit the dispute to a visitation expeditor.  A party may file 
        a motion with the court for purposes of obtaining a court date, 
        if necessary, but a hearing may not be held until resolution of 
        the dispute with the visitation expeditor.  
           (b) If a visitation expeditor has not been previously 
        appointed for the parties under subdivision 1 and the parties 
        cannot agree on a visitation expeditor, the court or court 
        administrator shall appoint a visitation expeditor from a list 
        of candidates established by the judicial district, giving 
        preference to candidates who agree to volunteer their services 
        or charge a variable fee based on the ability of the parties to 
        pay. 
           (c) Notwithstanding subdivision 1, an agreement of the 
        parties or decision of the visitation expeditor under this 
        subdivision is binding on the parties unless vacated or modified 
        by the court.  The expeditor shall put the agreement or decision 
        in writing, provide a copy to the parties, and file a copy with 
        the court.  The court may consider the agreement of the parties 
        or the decision of the expeditor, but neither is binding on the 
        court.  
           Subd. 7.  [EXCEPTIONS.] A party may not be required to 
        refer a visitation dispute to a visitation expeditor under this 
        section if: 
           (1) the party has obtained an order for protection under 
        chapter 518B against the other party; or 
           (2) the party is unable to pay the costs of the expeditor, 
        as provided under subdivision 2. 
           Sec. 4.  Minnesota Statutes 1994, section 518.68, 
        subdivision 2, is amended to read: 
           Subd. 2.  [CONTENTS.] The required notices must be 
        substantially as follows: 
                                IMPORTANT NOTICE 
        1.  PAYMENTS TO PUBLIC AGENCY 
           Pursuant to Minnesota Statutes, section 518.551, 
           subdivision 1, payments ordered for maintenance and support 
           must be paid to the public agency responsible for child 
           support enforcement as long as the person entitled to 
           receive the payments is receiving or has applied for public 
           assistance or has applied for support and maintenance 
           collection services.  MAIL PAYMENTS TO: 
        2.  DEPRIVING ANOTHER OF CUSTODIAL OR PARENTAL RIGHTS -- A 
        FELONY 
           A person may be charged with a felony who conceals a minor 
           child or takes, obtains, retains, or fails to return a 
           minor child from or to the child's parent (or person with 
           custodial or visitation rights), pursuant to Minnesota 
           Statutes, section 609.26.  A copy of that section is 
           available from any district court clerk. 
        3.  RULES OF SUPPORT, MAINTENANCE, VISITATION 
           (a) Payment of support or spousal maintenance is to be as 
           ordered, and the giving of gifts or making purchases of 
           food, clothing, and the like will not fulfill the 
           obligation. 
           (b) Payment of support must be made as it becomes due, and 
           failure to secure or denial of rights of visitation is NOT 
           an excuse for nonpayment, but the aggrieved party must seek 
           relief through a proper motion filed with the court. 
           (c) Nonpayment of support is not grounds to deny 
           visitation.  The party entitled to receive support may 
           apply for support and collection services, file a contempt 
           motion, or obtain a judgment as provided in Minnesota 
           Statutes, section 548.091.  
           (d) The payment of support or spousal maintenance takes 
           priority over payment of debts and other obligations. 
           (e) A party who accepts additional obligations of support 
           does so with the full knowledge of the party's prior 
           obligation under this proceeding. 
           (f) Child support or maintenance is based on annual income, 
           and it is the responsibility of a person with seasonal 
           employment to budget income so that payments are made 
           throughout the year as ordered. 
           (g) If there is a layoff or a pay reduction, support may be 
           reduced as of the time of the layoff or pay reduction if a 
           motion to reduce the support is served and filed with the 
           court at that time, but any such reduction must be ordered 
           by the court.  The court is not permitted to reduce support 
           retroactively, except as provided in Minnesota Statutes, 
           section 518.64, subdivision 2, paragraph (c).  
        4.  PARENTAL RIGHTS FROM MINNESOTA STATUTES, SECTION 518.17, 
        SUBDIVISION 3 
           Unless otherwise provided by the Court: 
           (a) Each party has the right of access to, and to receive 
           copies of, school, medical, dental, religious training, and 
           other important records and information about the minor 
           children.  Each party has the right of access to 
           information regarding health or dental insurance available 
           to the minor children.  Presentation of a copy of this 
           order to the custodian of a record or other information 
           about the minor children constitutes sufficient 
           authorization for the release of the record or information 
           to the requesting party. 
           (b) Each party shall keep the other informed as to the name 
           and address of the school of attendance of the minor 
           children.  Each party has the right to be informed by 
           school officials about the children's welfare, educational 
           progress and status, and to attend school and parent 
           teacher conferences.  The school is not required to hold a 
           separate conference for each party. 
           (c) In case of an accident or serious illness of a minor 
           child, each party shall notify the other party of the 
           accident or illness, and the name of the health care 
           provider and the place of treatment. 
           (d) Each party has the right of reasonable access and 
           telephone contact with the minor children. 
        5.  WAGE AND INCOME DEDUCTION OF SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE 
           Child support and/or spousal maintenance may be withheld 
           from income, with or without notice to the person obligated 
           to pay, when the conditions of Minnesota Statutes, sections 
           518.611 and 518.613, have been met.  A copy of those 
           sections is available from any district court clerk. 
        6.  CHANGE OF ADDRESS OR RESIDENCE 
           Unless otherwise ordered, the person responsible to make 
           support or maintenance payments shall notify the person 
           entitled to receive the payment and the public authority 
           responsible for collection, if applicable, of a change of 
           address or residence within 60 days of the address or 
           residence change. 
        7.  COST OF LIVING INCREASE OF SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE 
           Child support and/or spousal maintenance may be adjusted 
           every two years based upon a change in the cost of living 
           (using Department of Labor Consumer Price Index .........., 
           unless otherwise specified in this order) when the 
           conditions of Minnesota Statutes, section 518.641, are met. 
           Cost of living increases are compounded.  A copy of 
           Minnesota Statutes, section 518.641, and forms necessary to 
           request or contest a cost of living increase are available 
           from any district court clerk. 
        8.  JUDGMENTS FOR UNPAID SUPPORT 
           If a person fails to make a child support payment, the 
           payment owed becomes a judgment against the person 
           responsible to make the payment by operation of law on or 
           after the date the payment is due, and the person entitled 
           to receive the payment or the public agency may obtain 
           entry and docketing of the judgment WITHOUT NOTICE to the 
           person responsible to make the payment under Minnesota 
           Statutes, section 548.091.  Interest begins to accrue on a 
           payment or installment of child support whenever the unpaid 
           amount due is greater than the current support due, 
           pursuant to Minnesota Statutes, section 548.091, 
           subdivision 1a.  
        9.  JUDGMENTS FOR UNPAID MAINTENANCE 
           A judgment for unpaid spousal maintenance may be entered 
           when the conditions of Minnesota Statutes, section 548.091, 
           are met.  A copy of that section is available from any 
           district court clerk. 
        10.  ATTORNEY FEES AND COLLECTION COSTS FOR ENFORCEMENT OF CHILD 
        SUPPORT 
           A judgment for attorney fees and other collection costs 
           incurred in enforcing a child support order will be entered 
           against the person responsible to pay support when the 
           conditions of section 518.14, subdivision 2, are met.  A 
           copy of section 518.14 and forms necessary to request or 
           contest these attorney fees and collection costs are 
           available from any district court clerk. 
        11.  VISITATION EXPEDITOR PROCESS 
           On request of either party or on its own motion, the court 
           may appoint a visitation expeditor to resolve visitation 
           disputes under Minnesota Statutes, section 518.1751.  A 
           copy of that section and a description of the expeditor 
           process is available from any district court clerk. 
        12.  VISITATION REMEDIES AND PENALTIES 
           Remedies and penalties for the wrongful denial of 
           visitation rights are available under Minnesota Statutes, 
           section 518.175, subdivision 6.  These include compensatory 
           visitation; civil penalties; bond requirements; contempt; 
           and reversal of custody.  A copy of that subdivision and 
           forms for requesting relief are available from any district 
           court clerk. 
           Sec. 5.  Minnesota Statutes 1994, section 518.68, 
        subdivision 3, is amended to read: 
           Subd. 3.  [COPIES OF LAW AND FORMS.] The district court 
        administrator shall make available at no charge copies of the 
        sections 518.14, 518.17, 518.611, 518.613, 518.641, 548.091, and 
        609.26 referred to in subdivision 2, and shall provide forms to 
        request or contest attorney fees and collection costs or a 
        cost-of-living increase under section 518.14, subdivision 2, or 
        518.641.  
           Sec. 6.  [REPEALER.] 
           Minnesota Statutes 1994, section 518.175, subdivision 4, is 
        repealed. 
                                   ARTICLE 2
                             CHILD SUPPORT INTEREST
           Section 1.  Minnesota Statutes 1995 Supplement, section 
        518.5512, is amended by adding a subdivision to read: 
           Subd. 4.  [TERMINATION OF INTEREST.] The public authority 
        or a party bringing a motion under section 548.091, subdivision 
        1a, may proceed immediately to a contested administrative 
        proceeding under section 518.5511, subdivision 4. 
           Sec. 2.  Minnesota Statutes 1994, section 548.091, 
        subdivision 1a, is amended to read: 
           Subd. 1a.  [CHILD SUPPORT JUDGMENT BY OPERATION OF LAW.] 
        (a) Any payment or installment of support required by a judgment 
        or decree of dissolution or legal separation, determination of 
        parentage, an order under chapter 518C, an order under section 
        256.87, or an order under section 260.251, that is not paid or 
        withheld from the obligor's income as required under section 
        518.611 or 518.613, is a judgment by operation of law on and 
        after the date it is due and is entitled to full faith and 
        credit in this state and any other state.  Except as otherwise 
        provided by paragraph (b), interest accrues from the date the 
        unpaid amount due is greater than the current support due at the 
        annual rate provided in section 549.09, subdivision 1, plus two 
        percent, not to exceed an annual rate of 18 percent.  A payment 
        or installment of support that becomes a judgment by operation 
        of law between the date on which a party served notice of a 
        motion for modification under section 518.64, subdivision 2, and 
        the date of the court's order on modification may be modified 
        under that subdivision. 
           (b) Notwithstanding the provisions of section 549.09, upon 
        motion to the court and upon proof by the obligor of 36 
        consecutive months of complete and timely payments of both 
        current support and court-ordered paybacks of a child support 
        debt or arrearage, the court may order interest on the remaining 
        debt or arrearage to stop accruing.  Timely payments are those 
        made in the month in which they are due.  If, after that time, 
        the obligor fails to make complete and timely payments of both 
        current support and court-ordered paybacks of child support debt 
        or arrearage, the public authority or the obligee may move the 
        court for the reinstatement of interest as of the month in which 
        the obligor ceased making complete and timely payments. 
           The court shall provide copies of all orders issued under 
        this section to the public authority.  The commissioner of human 
        services shall prepare and make available to the court and the 
        parties forms to be submitted by the parties in support of a 
        motion under this paragraph. 
           Presented to the governor March 26, 1996 
           Signed by the governor March 28, 1996, 10:20 a.m.

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