665 N.W.2d 12 (N.D. 2003), 20020323, Smith v. Baumgartner

Docket Nº:20020323.
Citation:665 N.W.2d 12, 2003 ND 120
Opinion Judge:Maring, Justice.
Party Name:Carol Hope SMITH, n/k/a Carol Graves, Plaintiff and Appellee v. Leo John BAUMGARTNER, Defendant and Appellant.
Attorney:Donavin L. Grenz, Linton, for defendant and appellant. , Sheila K. Keller, Child Support Enforcement, Bismarck, for plaintiff and appellee. [7] Donavin L. Grenz, 101 N. Broadway, P.O. Box 637, Linton, N.D. 58552-0637, for defendant and appellant. [8] Sheila K. Keller, Child Support Enforcement, ...
Judge Panel:VANDE WALLE, Chief Justice, dissenting.
Case Date:July 16, 2003
Court:Supreme Court of North Dakota

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665 N.W.2d 12 (N.D. 2003)

2003 ND 120

Carol Hope SMITH, n/k/a Carol Graves, Plaintiff and Appellee


Leo John BAUMGARTNER, Defendant and Appellant.

No. 20020323.

Supreme Court of North Dakota

July 16, 2003.

Rehearing Denied Aug. 20, 2003.

Donavin L. Grenz, Linton, for defendant and appellant.

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Sheila K. Keller, Child Support Enforcement, Bismarck, for plaintiff and appellee.

MARING, Justice.

[¶ 1] Leo Baumgartner appeals from the October 30, 2002, Memorandum Opinion and Order concluding the arrearage of $23,667.86 is a valid obligation of Baumgartner. We affirm.


[¶ 2] The marriage of Baumgartner and Carol Smith, now known as Carol Graves, was dissolved by a Colorado district court decree dated July 25, 1975. The decree awarded custody of the couple's two minor children to Smith and ordered Baumgartner to pay $200 per month in child support. When Baumgartner failed to pay support according to the Colorado decree, Smith brought a motion for a judgment for the unpaid support arrearages. On June 11, 1984, the Colorado court entered a $21,000 money judgment against Baumgartner for the child support arrearages which had accrued between August 1, 1975, and May 9, 1984.

[¶ 3] After the money judgment was entered, Baumgartner continued to default on his child support payments. On May 24, 1985, a hearing was held to show cause because Baumgartner failed to pay the court-ordered child support. As a result of this hearing, Baumgartner and Smith entered into a stipulation, whereby Baumgartner acknowledged the Colorado court's $21,000 money judgment against him for child support arrearages and agreed to pay monthly toward the judgment until the full principal balance was satisfied. Baumgartner also agreed to pay $1,300 for the child support that had accrued between June 1, 1984, and June 1, 1985. Finally, he agreed to pay $100 per month for the current support of the one remaining daughter who had not yet reached the age of majority. Baumgartner paid the $1,300 and began making the $100 payments each month toward his child support. With the exception of one payment in August of 1987, Baumgartner stopped making the $100 payments after June of 1986. Baumgartner never made any payment toward the $21,000 money judgment.

[¶ 4] On April 17, 2002, the Bismarck Regional Child Support Enforcement Unit filed a Notice of Registration of Foreign Support Order in North Dakota, following the filing of a petition by the state of Colorado, seeking to enforce payment of Baumgartner's arrearages under the current enforcement statutes known as the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act ("UIFSA"). See N.D.C.C. ch. 14-12.2. Baumgartner resisted the enforcement of the foreign support order, claiming the Revised Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act ("RURESA"), rather than UIFSA, should be applied because RURESA was the enforcement statute in effect when his support obligations terminated in 1985 and 1987. See N.D.C.C. ch. 14-12.1 (repealed 1995). After a hearing, the trial court issued its Memorandum Opinion and Order on October 30, 2002, in which it applied UIFSA, found Baumgartner was obligated to pay the child support arrearages of $23,667.86, and ordered payment of $200 per month toward the obligation. The court based its decision on the fact that UIFSA was enacted before the ten-year statute of limitations mandated by RURESA had run. Therefore, it reasoned UIFSA could be applied retroactively.

[¶ 5] Baumgartner appeals from the Memorandum Opinion and Order. Baumgartner claims under RURESA, the enforcement of all his child support obligations would be barred by North Dakota's ten-year statute of limitations on judgments. He further argues the trial court erred in calculating his child

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support arrearages. He asserts that under UIFSA, all but $6,667.86 of his child support obligations would be barred by Colorado's twenty-year statute of limitations. We conclude that UIFSA applies to the enforcement of Baumgartner's child support arrearages and that none of Baumgartner's child support arrearages are barred by the statute of limitations.


[¶ 6] The issue in this case is whether RURESA or UIFSA should be applied to Smith's child support enforcement proceedings. The North Dakota Legislature repealed RURESA effective August 1, 1995. In its place, the legislature adopted UIFSA in chapter 14-12.2, N.D.C.C. RURESA and UIFSA have different choice of law provisions, the application of which result in the use of different statutes of limitation.

[¶ 7] RURESA contained a choice of law provision stating:

Duties of support applicable under this chapter are those imposed under the laws of any state where the obligor was present for the period during which support is sought. The obligor is presumed to have been present in the responding state during the period for which support is sought until otherwise shown.

N.D.C.C. § 14-12.1-07 (repealed 1995). As applied...

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