MN Divorce, Custody, Change of Circumstances

Minnesota case law summary by Attorney Richard Clem: MN Divorce, Custody, Change of Circumstances.

In re the Marriage of: Denise Louise Spanier v. Terence Urban Spanier. MN Divorce, Custody, Change of Circumstances

In this appeal from Hennepin County, the Minnesota Court of Appeals held:

On a motion to modify custody under Minn. Stat. 518.18, an order that does not modify physical or legal custody is not a "prior order" for purposes of determining whether a change of circumstances has occurred since the last custody order.

The mother had argued that her deployment to Arlington, Virginia, constituted a change of circumstances. The trial court, and the Court of Appeals, held that parties knew at the time of the divorce that she was on full-time duty with the Naval Reserve, and thus knew that she would be deployed to other locations. Therefore, there had been no change of circumstances.

No. A13-2175 (Minn. Ct. App. Aug. 18, 2014).

Please see the original opinion for the court's exact language.


Richard P. Clem is an attorney and continuing legal education (CLE) provider in Minnesota. He has been in private practice in the Twin Cities for 25 years. He has a J.D., cum laude, from Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul and a B.A. in History from the University of Minnesota. His reported cases include: Asociacion Nacional de Pescadores a Pequena Escala o Artesanales de Colombia v. Dow Quimica de Colombia, 988 F.2d 559, rehearing denied, 5 F.3d 530 (5th Cir. 1993), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 1041 (1994); LaMott v. Apple Valley Health Care Center, 465 N.W.2d 585 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991); Abo el Ela v. State, 468 N.W.2d 580 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991).

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